16 February 2022

Wagga canine coats fit for the Queen's corgis

| Chriss Buchan
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Jan Grant with dog swag

Jan Grant with one of her products. Photo: Chriss Buchan.

When Jan Grant first decided to jump from the corporate ladder of banking and finance into the unknown world of retirement, she had no idea she would end up making coats for the Queen’s corgis.

Always a keen sewer, Jan began marketing her own travel beds for dogs for a bit of extra cash after she made the move from the Hunter to “retirement” in Wagga Wagga.

A friend recommended she contact a colleague who trained assistance dogs and Jan found herself designing coats for canines.

Her first customer in 2017, from Victoria, ordered just one coat, but Jan set about pursuing her passion for dogs and her desire to help people, so Stylish Dogs was born in the garage of her suburban home. It now provides therapy/assistance dogs with colourful coats and emblems, all made to measure for the wide variety of breeds and organisations.

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Jan’s first larger customer came from Integra Service Dogs, ACT, for veterans. Integra Service Dogs provide wellness/assistance dogs to defence veterans which give them the freedom and confidence to mix in the community knowing they can rely on and trust their canine companion. Some veterans who couldn’t go outside their own home, have had their lives changed and confidence restored through the organisation.

With each of Jan’s dog coats made to perfection and treated individually, word-of-mouth ensured her small business expanded from those humble beginnings to become a major supplier Australia-wide to assistance dog organisations.

Clients include the vision-impaired, organisations helping people with autism and seizures, and more recently, Young Diggers Victoria.

Five years on, Jan now sits in the workshop, with her faithful corgi Sasha beside her, for up to 60 hours per week with the help of a multi-tasking friend.

Rusty, her reluctant model, prefers to watch from afar.

Jan Grant sewing

Jan Grant at her sewing machine. Photo: Facebook.

“I feel like I have been truly blessed with my business. It is going from strength to strength and I absolutely love what I do,” Jan said.

Jan has expanded her product range to now include dog swags, carry beds, long coats, short coats, coloured coats, winter weight corduroy coats and has in progress coats that are bandana style which arthritis sufferers can use easily.

Some coats have ‘L’ plates on them and others a QR code that explains the rules and regulations regarding wellness dogs and their companions. Starter packs are also being considered for puppies, and dogs in training.

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On a typical day, Jan briefly visits her cottage garden before heading into the workshop to check stock, take and confirm orders, draft patterns from calico squares and arrange for dogs to model them. Most coats have an emblem on them representing a particular assistance dog organisation/activity.

A corgi in a coat.

Rusty might be modelling for royalty but he still seems rather unimpressed. Photo: Facebook.

Jan is now taking orders from the ACT, NSW, Victoria and South Australia, as well as locations as far away as New York and England.

One unusual request was for a number of coats for corgis, dachshunds and dorgis (a mix between the two). Not giving it too much thought, she made the coats in a deep blue material, finishing them off with a gold-braided trim.

When Jan arrived at the official handover function in Canberra last March, she was asked whether she knew who they were destined for. Oblivious, Jan hadn’t thought about it.

“It just didn’t dawn on me,” Jan said.

Later she learned they were heading for Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s dogs.

It seems the “dorgis” came about through a liaison between one of Queen Elizabeth’s corgis and her sister Margaret’s dachshund at the palace. Amazed and delighted with her new client, Jan was “speechless” with such an honour.

Jan feels her quality, dedication and personal touch are behind the success of her business – after all, if the Queen placed an order, the quality must be there.

“My grandmother would be so proud,” she beams. “I am truly blessed – I absolutely love what I do.”

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