Laura Tenison MBE, Founder & MD of JoJo Maman Bébé the UK’s leading independent Mother and Baby brand, has stores across the country as well as a great website offering everything you need from Pregnancy to Pre-School. Here she tells us how her rescue dog, Ruby Tuesday makes the perfect office dog and how she loves to holiday with Laura and her family in France.
What are you working on at the moment?
The JoJo Road Show logistics – we start our tour next week at Whychwood Festival and will be touring the country over the summer in our gorgeous Citroen HY van called Eloise.
We are also full steam ahead with our USA expansion; we have been brand building via trade sales for a couple of years and are launching our retail side next year.
And finally we have about five new JoJo stores all due to open over the Summer in Hitchin, Truro, Belfast, Wimbledon, Stoke Newington and possibly Cork. Life is very exciting and busy.
What breed is your dog and why did you choose her?
Sitting at my feet under my desk is Ruby Tuesday. She is a lovely little Staffie and I chose her because of the horrible statistic that 70% of abandoned and unwanted dogs in London are Staffies and Pitbulls. These lovely dogs can be a bit tricky but in view of the fact so many of them need a good home, how could I not offer one?
How do your friends get on with Ruby Tuesday?
The truth is that some of my friends were terrified when Ruby came into our lives. People are so prejudiced about dog breeds, but she is the sweetest thing – with people anyway. She can get a bit growly with other dogs, but as soon as I tell her off she smiles at me, wags her tail and begs for forgiveness.
How long have you had her?
She was a Christmas baby last year, so she is about 18 months old.
Does she come with you to work?
Yes, she comes everywhere with me. I find it really tough when I have to go on business trips overseas and she can’t come along. Apparently she sits under my desk and cries; I wish people did not tell me this. But she generally adopts someone else in the office and stays glued to them until I get home when she gets so excited – it’s very endearing.
What difference does she make to your life?
We already have a Labrador, who is the original JoJo office dog – walking around, talking to everyone and sitting in reception welcoming visitors. Truffle is really relaxed and whilst I am definitely ‘Mum’ she is not as clingy as Ruby. I love the way Ruby sticks to me, but it is a bit stressful when I know I have a trip coming up. I had no idea it would be so hard to leave a dog behind. This is (nearly) as bad as going on business trips when my sons were little.
Do you take her on holiday with you and if so where?
Yes, both my dogs have passports. We love to go to Brittany in France where I have very dog-friendly cottage. The beaches are wild and allow dogs most of the year, so we have long doggy walks. They start smiling as soon as they see the ferry.
Do they have any funny ways or have there been any funny incidents involving either dog?
Well having dogs is always a bit of fun and having a dog-friendly office can have its moments. We currently have three dogs in our London office, but there is a puppy on its way which I’m a bit nervous about. Could be chaotic. In Newport we have two office dogs – a Bichon Frise and a Newfoundland. They are little and large but quite fancy each other – the mind boggles.
Anything you feel strongly about regarding pet welfare?
I really hate people buying dogs when they know they will not be able to look after them. I have always loved dogs but I did not bring them back into my life when my children were little since I felt I could not give them the time, love and attention they need. Leaving a dog alone at home all day while you are at work is just unforgiveable.
Do you take them with you to restaurants/ pubs/ cafes? Any favourites?
Yes, I like the fact that the French have no objection to dogs in restaurants. We have a little French bistro in Clapham which lets me bring them in. I don’t think a pub is a real pub unless it allows dogs in and I tend to avoid places that ban them. I would love to allow dogs in our stores, but some of our customers used to complain so now we have a dog hook on the outside of the doors and our teams are encouraged to offer a bowl of water if the hound looks thirsty. Our stores are totally child friendly with nappy changing and breastfeeding facilities, but we don’t want to forget our furry friends too.
Where do they exercise and where are their favourite parks?
When I am not at our head office in South Wales (which is amazing for dogs, being close to the Black Mountains), I live in South London. I like to vary my parks, but Clapham Common is pretty good is Dulwich woods and I can often be seen running around Brockwell Park early in the morning.
But best of all is a long windy walk along the beach and with new stores just opened in Whistable, Kent and Westbourne, Bournemouth they have been getting a far few of these. Lucky girls!
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