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How pet businesses are adapting to COVID with Rivka from Puppy Post

Nov 5, 2020 | In The Spotlight, Podcasts

When Rivka Abecasis found a helpless puppy in an abandoned car it changed her life forever.

Tiny JoeJoe was only weeks old and had been left in the vehicle that had been involved in an accident.

At the time, Rivka was working in a corporate job for an insurance firm, but being an accidental puppy parent meant she wanted to be around JoeJoe.

Fast forward four years and she’s now the founder of Puppy Post, an online magazine for dog owners and pet entrepreneurs.

Launched just before lockdown, it’s evolved into a community, supporting petpreneurs through the challenges of the last seven months.

Rivka has also created an online marketplace for businesses to share their products for Christmas.

In this episode shares her remarkable journey from life in the City to running her dream business.

You can listen in on the player link or continue reading as a blog post below.

How Rivka became a puppy mum after finding adorable JoeJoe

Adorable puppy JoeJoe was found in a car lockup below where Rivka was working in her insurance job four years ago.

She said: “The car had been abandoned and was brought to the pound and inside was a tiny puppy in a box.

“The boys who were working downstairs brought the box up to my  office and when I opened it he was so tiny I thought he was a hamster!

“The next day I took him to the vet and discovered JoeJoe was only three to four weeks old and they explained he needed syringe feeding.

“If he was to be taken to the dog rescue he may not have survived so I said I’d adopt him and asked them to show me how to feed him.

“I fell totally in love with him and took time off work to care for him.”

Tiny Puppy

JoeJoe as a tiny puppy shortly after he was found

How Puppy Post started

After becoming a puppy mum herself, Rivka often chatted to other pet parents in the park and became familiar with lots of pet brands.

She found herself chatting to people about pet products and came up with the idea to launch her own magazine celebrating small businesses last November.

The magazine has stories about inspiring animals, spotlight features on pet business owners and their products plus business tips.

Even though she had no background or experience in publishing, in just a month, determined Rivka learned everything she needed to get the magazine off the ground.

She explained: “I had been away working so I was stuck in a hotel in the evenings with nothing to do.

“It gave me time to put the magazine together and chat to people who were interested in being in it about their stories.

“So many people who have pet businesses have remarkable stories, and speaking to them meant I was less lonely working on my own.

“I didn’t know what I was doing at first but saw it as a challenge. Everything I learned I either researched on Google or found people I knew to help me.

“It started with crafting the magazine, and then it evolved into the marketplace.”

When Coronavirus hit Rivka was approached by petpreneurs for help

Following the lockdown announcement in March, Rivka’s inbox was full of pet businesses asking if they could feature in the magazine.

She said: “People were asking for my help and I would have up to 50 e mails a day.

“I felt that the 45 page magazine wasn’t enough, and the pages and number of stories grew.

“In March, it became 100 pages which was as much as my software would allow me to create.”

Rivka Puppy Post

Rivka and JoeJoe at Puppy Post HQ

Next, she created Puppy Post Marketplace as a solution for pet businesses

Rivka’s responded to the flurry of messages by bringing anxious pet businesses together to support one another with regular networking on Zoom calls.

She said: “This led to a lot of collaboration between the businesses and people appreciated the community and the support.

“And because all the in person events were cancelled, many people were suffering as they weren’t able to have stalls.

“So I had the idea of the online marketplace and I’m trying to do my best to emulate something as close to a real life Christmas Market or Fair online.”

Celebrating the resilience of pet businesses

Rivka said she’s been really inspired by how the Puppy Post community has battled on during tough times.

She explained: “I’ve spoken to businesses who were on the verge of shutting down but then found support through the community and kept going.

“In the meetings, businesses have been coming together to help each other which has been so inspiring.

“This has happened in so many ways, from things like helping with SEO or social media to changing their marketing plan which has made such a difference.”

Healthy and happy, JoeJoe now

What Rivka looks for when it comes to stories for Puppy Post

Rivka says the main thing she’s looking for is an emotional response when it comes to pitching stories to her magazine.

She said: “I ask people to share their personal stories and thier photos with our readers and I want people who are passionate about their business.

“I love speaking to brands who understand their products, know everything about thier ingredients and are happy to talk about the reasons why their product came together!

“So I don’t want to just know about the product, I want to know about families coming together to create brilliant products.”

Then there’s the stories about the dogs.

Rivka says: “We have these amazing stories from puppy parents who have pups that do amazing things.

“They volunteer and make people’s lives better. Cate Archer for example with Doug the Pug Therapy Dog does amazing work with people in hospitals, care homes and schools.”

What makes a good pitch for Puppy Post

Rivka is striving for the magazine to have a real community feel to it and loves it when people get in touch.

She said: “When pitching just be yourself and be honest!

I want the passion to come across. By sharing a story this can help friendships develop too.”

What to expect from the Puppy Post Christmas Market

The Christmas market is just like a real life market stall, only online, and was launched in July.

People can visit the site, browse around the different sections and find gifts and products to buy.

She said: “Think of it like you would do a local fete. Everyone has a table and people can come and chat to you and ask you about what you do.

“Each person has a market stall which is an empty profile to put your own spin on. You create your bio and include your logo and tell people who you are.

“You have that space on your virtual product to fill with your product and there is no limit to how many items you can have there.

“You get to have that conversation with the customer by telling them about the product, the price and any other details.

“Puppy Post provides the hall but the sellers take their own money. Other than the fee to join, there are no other costs.”

How to get involved with Puppy Post and the Puppy Post Marketplace

To join in with the marketplace there is an application fee of £100 and you can find out more here www.puppypost.co.uk

If you’d like to check out the Puppy Post magazine, you can sign up via the website here www.puppypost.co.uk

And if you’d like to follow Rivka and Puppy Post on Instagram, go to www.instagram.com/puppy.post.co.uk

Or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/puppy.post.co.uk

If you’ve enjoyed Rivka’s story, you might like to read How to use Facebook groups to get publicity or From Fashion PR to dog trainer with Karen Maher

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