DOG DREAMS: Shauna and Ken Kelly think of their dogs as part of the family.
DOG DREAMS: Shauna and Ken Kelly think of their dogs as part of the family.

How unwanted clothes are funding two farmers’ feed bills

TO SHAUNA and Ken Kelly, dogs are family.

When it came time for the pair to think outside the square and start a business, it was Mrs Kelly’s love of dogs that influenced her.

“We love dogs and they are my life … We haven’t had children over the years so the dogs have been my family,” Mrs Kelly said.

The beef cattle producers gave up milking dairy cattle in the face of the drought.

They kept just a small flock of 27 head of simmental cattle – and their two pet dogs – on their Blanchview property, where rain hasn’t fallen properly in months.

“We are spending a hell of a lot of money at the moment on feed,” she said.

Thinking outside the square, Mrs Kelly conceived a way to make money to fund feeding her animals – to make pet collars and harnesses from preloved clothing.

“It has helped us considerably with the sales we’ve had – we were able to go an buy a tonne of pellets, whereas before we would possibly not have the pellets for the cows,” she said.

The pair travelled to China to look at products they could source in their store.

“We saw the amount of stuff out there being sent around the world and the amount of plastic and waste,” Mrs Kelly said.

“That was probably the catalyst which got me thinking of how many dog collars there were coming out of China.”

Mrs Kelly has always been a Clean Up Australia advocate and drew on her desire to reduce, reuse and recycle when she launched her “rescued collars” range.

“I thought, why can’t I make my own out of jeans and shirts – then I went to the op shop,” she said.

“They gladly gave me clothes that weren’t going to make the shelves.”

Using the preloved clothing, Shauna sews collars for dogs – of which, no two are the same.

“We’re trying to keep that uniqueness about it – they’re a rescued collar like a rescued mutt,” she said.

“It has been crazy and I’ve been sewing every spare hour.”

They have two dogs, Harry and Teddy. Harry is a Rhodesian ridgeback and Teddy, a rescue from RSPCA, is a wolfhound-cross-rottweiler.