Ottawa Dog Blog had the chance to interview local collar designer and artist, Lindsay Campbell who runs Underdog Designs.
Name: Underdog Designs | Lindsay Campbell
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
What kind of Dog Business do you do?
We are in the business of fashion and compassion! We create unique and durable dog collars for the everyday dog. Plus, we work very closely with Ador-A-Bull Dog Rescue (www.ador-a-bull.com) and donate 10% of all sales to them. Ador-A-Bull’s current focus is bull and terrier breeds being discriminated against by the Ontario Government. No other breed is more misrepresented or mistreated in our society. The shelters are overflowing and they desperately need our help. The donations raised from our collars will help save and re-home dogs facing euthanasia.
How did you get into doing dog-related business?
I have been surrounded by dogs my whole life. It started with my Mom’s dog sitting business during my childhood and then my very first job at Berry’s Pet Food. This is where I really experienced how the pet industry works. I had also graduated an arts high school around that time and was starting my own artistic career. Naturally my art was full of animals-especially dogs. I started to do a few commissions of people’s pets and loved it! Anytime I get to share in the relationship between a dog and it’s owner is a joy for me. I also got a chance to work at a Doggie Daycare before I started this business. I just gravitated towards my first love: dogs!
When did you first realize you are a craftwoman?
Ever since I picked up that first crayon! I love to create with my hands. Using any part of oneself to create beauty in this world is an amazing feeling. I get to experience this with my art, but now with my sewing as well. When I finish up a collar I can’t wait to see that dogs face shine with pride when they try it on. It always makes me laugh.
Could you tell us some more about your work?
I wanted to make a collar that any dog could wear and enjoy. Any breed, any personality. This meant I had to create different sizes, styles, and find high quality materials to make them with. The end result was a huge selection of ribbon style collars using materials from around the world. We have ribbons from Germany, Japan, the U. S, and of course Canada. Heavy polypropylene webbing is sewn underneath all the ribbon for durability and style. Quadruple stitching is used on pressure points for strength. Our collars are beautiful, unique, and most importantly: washable! We now offer matching leashes and cat collars!
What is it that inspires you to create your pieces?
The collars were inspired by my love and respect for dogs. I wanted to create something for them and collars seemed like a great idea. But every dog has such a unique personality and I want to offer collars to match that! The local pet store offered the standard red, blue, black, and green. But what about the sport fans? The princesses? The clowns? The food obsessed? They needed something more and that inspired me to find a wide range of designs.
What famous artists/fashion designers have influenced you, and how?
Oh wow, there are so many! Anyone with a creative voice inspires me! Because this blog promotes local business I’ll share one of my favorite Ottawa talents. My dear friend Stefan Thompson (www.stefanthompson.com) has been a constant inspiration and teacher. He has a indescribable connection with nature and animals. You can see that respect and love in all of his work.
What do you do for fun (besides sewing)?
Art is my other passion. I have a small art blog here (http://lcillustration.blogspot.com/) if you’d like to check it out. I’m slowly trying to build my career as an artist, but still have so much to learn. I have an upcoming charity art show at Wurm Gallery in Ottawa and will be donating 40% of all sales to Ador-A-Bull Dog Rescue. It should be a great event! I also love to bake vegan dishes, watch movies, walk the dog, and hang out with my family and friends!
What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
The little things in life have been my biggest inspirations. Sunny days, a wiggly dog bum, a hot cup of tea in the morning. All of these tiny joys keep me going and remind me how precious life is. When things get really tough I just keep telling myself how lucky I am to get paid to do something I adore! And of course I think of the dogs in need and how every collar I make is helping.
How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
I consider myself blessed that I get to do something I love but the business side of it can be hard at times. I have been relying on word of mouth to bring people to my business but I know that can only go so far. So my next challenge will be to advertise and bring more traffic to my website. This is the part I don’t enjoy. I don’t like to bother people and sell myself to the public. You feel sort of like a car sales man! But this comes with owning any business and something I will get better at with time.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Go for it! Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way or bring you down. Always be true to yourself and do what you love. Listen to every ones input, but trust your instincts. If you don’t want to get up in the morning, you are taking the wrong career path! (I had to learn that lesson a few times).
Do you have a dog(s)? if yes, what kind, please brag about your pooch(es) here
I don’t have a permanent dog, but I always have a foster dog. I’ve fostered three tiny puppies, an 85 pound mastiff, and everything in between! They come from all walks of life, but their stories are all the same: they need our help. That’s where a foster parent will step up and take on a dog until they can find their forever home. It’s a difficult, but amazing experience! It is hard to say goodbye, but even harder to know that another dog might be put down if I didn’t open up my heart and home.