Yes I am an Australian Business. Doing the best I can in the strange world we now live in. Read more about how I started and how I operate in my ‘About Us’ page!
Since 2010 I have been creating quality products for dogs that love the beach. Starting with a yellow toweling drying coat for my beach loving dog.
I am as horrified as you at the lack of Australian made products. How did we get ourselves into this mess? When I started Surfdog I had visions of making everything in Australia. I beavered away on my sewing machine until I couldn’t keep up and then discovered Australia manufacturing no longer existed…and the majority of our much loved Australian brands had been forced overseas.
So I had a few options..1. Give up 2. Continue to sell 10 a week in 2 sizes and 1 colour. 3. Try to start a manufacturing business in Australia, (I applied for a small business grant - what a waste of time that was.) I found I would have to at least triple my price to cover the costs (Tell me? would you buy a Drying Coat made in Australia if it cost over $200??) …. or 4. look overseas.
I love and believe in my products and get real joy from happy customers, so I had to select the last option. The reality is that small creative businesses eventually have to manufacture overseas as their products become successful and need larger scale manufacturing. Unless of course we can start to attract customers prepared to pay at least 4 times our current prices. And there lies the absolute truth.
What you need to know
I have spent 10 years researching and testing my products on just about every breed and shape of dog to get them to fit. I have sourced the best fabrics and I mean the best! I use ethical manufacturers who work to my instructions and designs. My designs are copyrighted and Surfdog is my registered trademark. Colours are dyed to my specifications. I do all the artwork and design and cut patterns. My kitchen and dining room are my studio, workshop and office. I stock all my products on the shelf so I can despatch immediately service. This is the key difference with Surfdog Australia. A difference that is rare these days. It takes time, investment, skill and a lot of hard work and stress. It needs to be appreciated and understood by consumers, especially those waving the flag for Australian Products. The flag wavers need to understand that manufacturing simply no longer exists in Australia. But more importantly understand that It is not businesses like mine that are the problem. The pet market is totally awash with 100% Chinese products making huge amounts of money for China, and nothing for Australia. The internet has enabled retailers to present products as their own, and gain sales with discounts and glossy videos (they have no financial investment so it doesn’t matter if they only make a small margin). Most of these products are bad quality and some even potentials dangerous to dogs. These products come direct from Chinese factories with sellers having nothing to do with their creation, or any consideration to quality, fit or safety they just want to make money. They usually know very little about dogs and are just selling to a lucrative market. An enormous amount 'drop ship’ from China (fluffy dog beds, harnesses, teeth cleaning dog chews, more harnesses…etc). Taking orders from customers in the guise of an Australian business and passing them to Chinese factories that ship direct to buyers. They offer no customer service or returns. They employ no staff. You are usually unable to contact them direct. They often have not even seen the products they sell and the worse thing is this makes a huge profit for China. How it is even legally possible in consumer law to do this is beyond me. They import and sell them without paying any GST on sales or import duties, so contribute nothing to our Australian economy. They fill the world with bad products that end up in landfill. These retailers also like to mark their stores "100% Australian" or "Wholly Australian owned". Please be careful and read the small print. If in doubt just check for yourself on Ali Express or Ebay and you will find the same products at a fraction of the price.
Small creative businesses like Surfdog are stuck between these unethical retailers and the big brands who manufacture in huge quantities in Vietnam and China enabling them to make good products at cheap prices. Not to mention the likes of Amazon.
My Surfdog branded products are made in the best factories I can find all over the world including Australia, the USA , India and yes China. I prefer to use manufacturers that make human products, as I have found the quality of the materials and work is much better. But the key difference is they are my designs. My patterns cut around Australian dogs. My specification of fabric and colours. Months of sampling to approve the quality, finishes and practicality of goods. This is where the difference lies. I did not go to China and and select off the shelf products and simply put my name on them. They are 100% my products. And I would not ever consider drop shipping as it is unethical in every way.
Everything I sell on my website (both my own Surfdog Brand and the few products I sell from other manufacturers) is in stock as I have actually Invested my money in them so I can provide them to my customers without any delay with third-party distribution. This is why I am able to offer customer service with no quibble returns and exchanges. In particular those that drop ship are unable to do this - you will always find these products on sale and if you read the small print it will say they don’t do returns on sale items.
I am proud of the products I have created. I lay awake at night and worry about the design, worry about the colours as I want to create beautiful products and each product is totally down to my decisions. I am one of a handful in Australia still creating products and selling direct. I can only do what I do by working 7 days a week and investing all my earnings back into my business to obtain new stock. My greatest reward is happy customers. I work on my own and employ 2 local Ladies that help me. I bring in export revenue to Australia by shipping my products internationally. My profit stays in Australia. I pay enormous amounts of GST on my imports and on my sales. I am supporting the Australian economy in the only way that is possible at this time.
I am an Australian business. I contribute to the Australian economy. My products are purchased by Australian customers and the revenue stays here. I employ Australian staff. I am contributing to the economy with my exports bringing revenue into Australia as I ship worldwide.
I am Australian and very proud of it.