After adopting a nine-month-old pup from Battersea, East End Best Friend founder Jessica Tabbah found herself in search of well-crafted products for her new buddy. With a dearth of quality items on offer, Tabbah set up EEBF as an online purveyor of the finest hand-made canine accessories. Designing and making each item herself, Tabbah borrows inspiration from a diverse range of sources including dog behaviour, sensory toys, and even old days quilting.
Do you think there’s an element of craft missing from the world of dog accessories?
I think there’s a temptation to think that all of the attention to detail, hard work and skill that goes into craft is wasted on something made for a dog—but I couldn’t disagree more. A dog makes a home, they are every bit a part of the family, why should the things we chose to have for them be made with any less care or attention that the things we would chose for ourselves?
How are EEBF’s products different from other ‘standard’ items available?
I started East End Best Friend having come home from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home with Roxy, a then nine month old Rottweiler, English Bull Terrier mix. I struggled to find anything durable enough to withstand the enthusiasm of a dog like Roxy that I didn’t immediately want to kick behind the sofa in shame the minute a friend came over to our house. Everything I could find for her was either durable but ugly or lovely to look at but more suitable for a baby to play with than a dog. So I began to try and bridge the gap, to create a collection of toys, blankets and beds that not only could put up with a bit of rough and tumble, but that I would actually want in my home.
How do you approach designing new products?
From the get go I’ve aimed to design my products to tap into existing dog behaviours, be that the need to sit on something comforting and familiar when out and about travelling or a terrier’s desire to shake. I worked with Louise Glazebrook a dog behaviouralist from The Darling Dog Company, looking at dog behaviour and the ways that dogs play and learn. From there we came up with some concepts to trial and test—Roxy road tests everything and I tweak and adjust as I watch how she plays with things. Since having my daughter I’ve also been getting lots of inspiration from baby and children’s sensory toys. Aesthetics wise, I look a lot at homeware trends as well as reinventing historic quilting designs in new ways.
How do you produce the collection?
Everything from East End Best Friend is made by me, it’s handcrafted and hand made but most importantly its tough and tested.
Since taking time off to have my daughter, I’ve been playing catch up. I’m now back and focussing on the business although it is a bit of a juggling act! I’m currently working on a few potential new play products and toy designs—they’re where my passion lies. There’s nothing better than seeing the joy a dog gets from putting a toy you made through its paces. Of course Roxy will also need to be 100% satisfied they are tough enough before launch!
All images courtesy of East End Best Fiend
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