Founders of Hiro + Wolf, Amy and Bee, met in the park while walking their dogs and bonded over their passion for animals and design. Combining their talent for craft and love of Africa, Hiro + Wolf was launched in February 2013 with the aim of creating beautiful and unique pet accessories.
What is your background and how did Hiro + Wolf come about?
Bee is originally from Johannesburg and worked in craft development in Africa and as head of events at The Design Museum before opening up her shop Marcos & Trump on Columbia Road. I studied my degree in Accessories at London College of Fashion and set up another accessories company before partnering with Bee on Hiro + Wolf. We met walking our dogs Hiro and Wolf in our local park and bonded over our love of animals, design and travel. I moved my studio into a space above Bee’s shop and so when we naturally came to the idea of starting our own pet accessories range we already had everything in place!
What inspires your work?
Besides the pet range we also design our own jewellery, handbags and homeware under the Hiro + Wolf label. Unlike the pet accessories which are made by us in London, our ‘people’ accessories are handmade in Kenya by women’s groups and Fair Trade enterprises. We travel to Kenya once or twice a year to source fabrics, train the artisans and check on production. These trips are highly inspirational. We both love the bright geometric prints found in African cloths and our current Winter pet range is made from Masai ‘Shuka’, the tartan blankets the Masai tribe wear as part of their traditional dress. We buy bundles of fabric from the bustling Mombasa markets and stitch them up back in London with the best leather and hardware.
Any designers or artists that you look to for inspiration?
We love the simplicity and bright colours Marimekko use across their range of jewellery and homeware. It is also interesting to look at how traditional African culture is influencing mainstream fashion. Bee has some beautiful magazines from South Africa that offer endless inspiration and I’m always interested to see the pieces from Vivienne Westwood and Sass & Bide’s Nairobi collections.
What is your favourite pet piece that you have created and why?
I absolutely couldn’t live without our Hands-Free Lead anymore. It’s just so versatile. Hiro comes everywhere with me and the Hands-Free Lead allows me to carry my enormous handbag and have phone conversations or coffee on the go without having to worry about holding onto my dog. Wolf often comes down to the studio without a lead – he is definitely the best behaved of the pair – so it’s very handy to be able to quickly convert the Hands-Free Lead into a Double Dog Lead for walking the two of them across busy roads, simply by pushing the strap through the D-Ring to create a central handle.
What has been the highlight of your career?
We both absolutely love the every day running of Hiro + Wolf. Getting to meet your business partner in the morning for coffee before strolling down pretty Broadway Market and through Haggerston Park with the dogs to work is just such a pleasure. We only launched last year so every time we get a returning customer or a retailer contacts us about stocking the range it makes us so proud. Working out in Kenya and seeing how much of a positive impact our business can have on the lives of the people we work with gives us the drive to keep growing.
Favourite animal and why?
Well it’s got to be a dog. They love you as much as you love them. Woman’s best friend!