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Funky dog accessories with personality – the Sixfeet story

Photo : Balkányi László - We Love Budapest
Funky dog accessories with personality - the Sixfeet story

With a communication degree and many years of experience behind her, Sarolta Arany walked away from her previous career turning her love of dogs into her own brand of dog accessories called Sixfeet. She has been making products for our four-legged friends for four years now, and together with her sister, she makes cool custom leashes, collars and harnesses in their workshop in Buda. One of her greatest dreams is for Budapest to become a city of stylish dogs. We talked about this, the mysteries of dogs’ souls and, of course, about her doggy designs.

Did you always have a dog?

I only wanted dogs for a long time, and only when I moved out from home did I get my own dogs, who also live with me now. I have two dogs, both adopted – Bibi has been with me for 11 years, and Szami joined the family four years ago. I naturally treat them as family members. For them we are the pack, which has its own rules and where they have their own place. This takes tremendous effort and responsibility to work well, but by now we know each other so well that I even know where each dog will stop, what they will pay attention to when we are out on a walk. Dogs have personalities that are as complex as humans. For example, my dogs are very sensitive, and as they get older they become more set in their ways. With Bibi, we are so used to each other that she detects the smallest changes in my mood.

Photo: BIBI / László Balkányi / WLB
Where did the idea of starting a dog brand come from?  

It is not a very romantic story. I spent eight years in the advertising industry, and in 2010 I lost my job. Back then I had three dogs in the family, and I was extremely lucky to have been working in a dog-friendly place. I was struggling to find work, and even when I eventually got a new position I did not find my place – even though I was in a good team and was given super tasks. I quit after three months because I felt that I must go in a different direction. I did not exactly know what to do, but I was sure that I wanted to work with dogs.

Photo: SZAMI / László Balkányi / WLB
Where did the idea for the collars and leashes come from? 

We realised that we could not really find collars and leashes that were to our liking. Quality stuff was boring, and we simply could not find fun pieces on the domestic market. We took a deep breath and started to search for materials and supplies. We sewed prototypes and tested the finished models on my dogs. It took us a while to figure out where it is worth buying stuff from, and how we can produce high quality products. But we were sure that there is a serious gap in this area of the market.

Photo: László Balkányi / WLB
The development of Sixfeet is similar to the building of a fashion brand in many ways. Is this the result of a conscious or an instinctive decision?  

Absolutely conscious. The whole brand is about the dog and the owner, which is where the name Sixfeet came from. I believe that choosing a dog should be a conscious decision. It someone chooses well, that will show physically, too – it is easy to see that they go together. For example, if the owner runs everyday, they can choose a breed that needs regular exercise, like a vizsla or a greyhound. If they are less active, it is better to choose a so-called “social” dog to be their companion. If you have a harmony of character between the four-legged and the two-legged, their personalities will naturally adjust to each other, and why couldn’t that be the case in looks, as well?

I think that is is cool and stylish for my dog’s collar to fit with my new shoes. Today – similarly to fashion brands – we think in seasonal collections, as well. In the winter, we had a polka dotted collection, and we prepare for the summer with striped models. Moreover, we are working on some special, secret plans, as well. Currently, we put together each piece, although we are on our way towards small series production. We still make a lot of collars to order. In these cases, the customer and their dog come to the workshop; together, we choose the type of ribbon for the dog’s size and habits, just like at a tailor. I especially like these occasions.

Photo: László Balkányi / WLB
How have people found out about you?  

When we started to think about distribution, we set off on a design sensitive line. We consciously did not contact dog shops, even though we knew that it will be harder to reach owners this way. We were sure that our brand and message would have a very different impression in such a medium.
 
Soon we will launch our first clothing collection, a rather functional series, which will include “leisure” hoodies for owners and matching pieces for the dogs. I know that many people think dogs do not feel cold, but this is absolutely not true. A short-haired, thin dog can be very grateful for a sweater. This is not about pampering or a fashion fad, especially if you think about how we bring dogs to the street from the 24-degree warm apartment.

We pay a lot of attention to details, and personally, design is very important to me. Recently, for example, we upgraded to a new logo, which was designed by Zsófi Szabó, also responsible for the graphic work of the Little Hungaropedia series.

Photo: László Balkányi / WLB
For the past three years, you have also been organising dog-related events where charity plays an important role. Where did the idea for “Kutyás vásár” (“dog market”) come from?  

In Hungary, I had not encountered a trade fair that was not only about the dogs, but also about the owners. We organise events where dogs and dog-lovers can both have fun. The location is a fantastic green space, where the animals can run freely while the owners can buy dog-related jewellery, dog lollipops, Hungarian-made dog clothes and a thousand other things. Visitors can also support an animal rights foundation – we usually offer the revenue from a food stand but last time we offered money from an auction.

Photo: László Balkányi / WLB
You spend your every day in the company of dogs. How do you see Budapest from a dog owner’s viewpoint?  

I love this city, but I feel that there are too many rules that have not been thought through. For example, it is quite difficult to use public transport with a dog, but it is also problematic to go on a walk without a leash. Officially, we cannot let our dogs run free in public spaces. On the streets, this is understandable and acceptable, but it is incomprehensible in parks and forests. The dog runs are very small and there is very few of them. Fortunately, there are more and more stores and restaurants where dogs are welcome, but there is room for improvement in this area, as well. Obviously, it is up to dog owners to take the first step, they are the only ones who can initiate the formation of more tolerant rules.

Photo: László Balkányi / WLB
Which hospitality spots do you recommend for dog owners?

In Pest, it is easy to find dog-friendly places. My favorite café is Farger. One time, I was there with four of my friends and a total of eight dogs. Ruin pubs are usually very friendly, too, like Szimpla, Most or Anker’t, but Konyha, Hivatal and Telep are super, as well. In Buda, the situation is a bit more difficult, but Nemdebár, Finomító Kantin and MOKA Café are sure choices, as well as Szatyor Bar or Semiramis Café in Budagyöngye.

Prices: 6000 – 8000 HUF
Available at: wonderLAB or contact Sixfeet directly for more information.