How It All Began

How It All Began

OtiBoaty Doggy Dreamland first began with a business I put a lot of time, love and effort into creating. Below is the original story of how it all first began, the roots of our whole business that I am so very proud of. While OtiBoaty Boutique is no more, I'd change absolutely nothing about how I started my business journey. This is straight from our first website, our 'About Us' page. 
So you'd like to know about us, huh?

First up, who is 'Us'?

I'm Kirstie, a 26-year-old gal living in the beautiful country that is New Zealand. I've been working office jobs since high-school, attempting to find my passion.

Kirstie from OtiBoaty with dog Otis in New Zealand handmade dog clothing and pet apparel
OtiBoaty Boutique Photoshoot Cuddles 

Isn't this picture gorgeous, by the way? This was taken by my very talented friend Salomé who runs Yellow Lab Pet Photography. HIGHLY recommend - Visit Yellow Lab if you're looking to book a photoshoot, but I digress.

Back in 2017, my partner and I travelled to a place I had always dreamed of visiting - Japan. I totally fell in love with the country and we've even been back since that trip, but I digress.

While exploring in Tokyo, my partner and I stumbled upon a place I didn't know was a thing before encountering it - a dog friendly mall for dogs. That's right, a HUGE mall entirely dedicated to dogs. They had EVERYTHING from absolutely stunning dog apparel shops, a lot of great dog accessories, a play centre for dogs, cafes for dogs to dine, pet stores with all dog breeds, grooming centres, and shops for dog prams (which were everywhere, you're allowed to bring your dogs into the mall and most were in prams - talk about extra!).

Here's an awesome article which goes into full detail about the dog mall in Japan for those of you who are excited about it as I was.

I've never felt this excited about anything. My heart was so full, I had learnt how to ask 'can I pat your dog' in Japanese so I could meet all the dogs. We stayed in this mall for hours as I took everything in squealing like a child in absolute glee that a place like this even existed. WHY don't we have this in NZ?!
Dog clothes showing dog jackets and dog jumpers
Some of the Dogs I Met In the Palette Town Dog Mall

Upon discovering this, I was on the hunt to find more of this amazing, bougie dog apparel world which was what I was most excited about. We went to see Ginza (which is known for very expensive, luxury shopping) and discovered a small store which absolutely stole my heart. Something lit up in me even more than the dog mall.

This shop looked like Louis Vuitton for dogs. STUNNING decor and the most well crafted dog clothes I'd ever laid eyes on. On the verge of tears, I knew I had to purchase something from this store which had sparked such a MASSIVE passion in me! I wish I could share pictures of it but alas, no cameras were allowed in this high end apparel store.

I ended up buying two coats from this dog shop for Gucci, my partner's late shih-tzu (which were a whopping $80.00 NZD each I might add!). I'll put some shots of Gucci in the dog coats below, as well as some more recent pics of Otis in them (If you have a problem with boy dogs wearing pink, trigger warning lol).

Dogs posing in dog coats and dog jackets nz

I'd found my passion, I was SO excited to get home and start planning my business, so very inspired by the shops in Japan.

I got to creating a brand, I designed and trade-marked a logo, looked into how to really run a pet apparel business and - panicked. HOW did I think I could run a business making luxury animal apparel? Who was I to think I had the skills or talent, I didn't even have my own dog. Defeated and overwhelmed with anxiety, I shelved the idea and quietly made lists of ideas and made poorly sewn clothes for Gucci.

My first pet store dog clothes in New Zealand
The Brand I Originally Designed

Fast forward to 2019, we went back to Japan and back to the dog outfit stores which first inspired me. Still just as obsessed, I felt almost angry at myself for giving up on this dream and this feeling it created in me. We returned home from our trip in January 2020 (right in time for Covid-19 to hit!) and I felt so much more determination to follow my dreams.

I've gone down countless creative roads, trying as many different things as I could to see if I could make it my full time gig. Nothing felt like when I walked into that custom dog clothes mall.

Everything I tried I either gave up out of lack of passion or it fizzled out due to lack of time (A little life tip, there is always time, you just have to want to make it). This passion felt different. I just knew I could turn what I was loving into a full-time business, I was just so overwhelmed and anxious. I did however have an endless list of ideas and a constant creative buzz. I was up at night sketching designs for the dog attire. Typing bullet points of things I needed to do. Cutting up all my clothes and experimenting with designs.

This is where our CEO, Otis came in.
Kirstie with baby Otis the inspiration for starting the dog clothing business in New Zealand
Otis is a wee puggy, born November 19th 2019. We adopted our baby the day before we went into lockdown for COVID19. I'd been asking for a pug for quite literally years. Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love pugs. I receive pug related everything for any present I'm given and I love it. I am that crazy pug person. One of the very first questions I asked my partner when we started dating was 'do you want a dog?' because it was never going to work if the answer to that was no!

My partner, Shaarn, emailed the Pug Club NZ president and discovered she said she knew someone who had a pug they were thinking about selling. A quick phone-call, a text convo and an hour-long drive to meet our new possible baby.

The messages where Kirstie found out that she will be getting a puppy! Now what is he going wear!
One of the Best Texts I've Ever Received

There was no way I was leaving without Otis (or 'Cruize', as he was originally named). He was just too gorgeous, he slotted straight into our lives like he just knew he was home. He slept lovingly in my lap the whole way home while I sat and stared at him, my beautiful little baby.


From the moment we got home, I decided he needed to be dressed up. I'd spent months practicing making and designing pup clothes. I also straight away ordered way more dog clothing than necessary from overseas, something for every occasion. Due to the pandemic, a lot of these parcels took a long time to show up and when they did, Otis had already grown so much that he barely fit them! Luckily, I was able to craft my own canine clothes for him.

I started to get people telling me I needed to sell these dog outfits I was making. Comments on Instagram asking where I bought them. People stopping me on walkies with Otis, asking where they could find one.
What? People want to buy this here? Who even makes clothes for dogs in NZ though?

Turns out, a lot of people! After finding and researching countless dog apparel businesses, making so many incredible friends in the dog community and in real life, I had to ask myself - why aren't I making and selling these outfits I was having so much fun creating? Why was I letting my anxiety get the best of me?

Dogs wearing NZ handmade dog clothes of dog bow tie and dog collars nzJust a Small Hand-Full of Some of the Beautiful Pup Friends We Made!

I researched the absolute heck out of starting, running and owning a business, for real this time. I got serious and believed in myself. I followed every step, read every article, listened to every podcast and audiobook I could, bought every ring-binder and took more notes than probably necessary. I was so sure I could do it and I put everything I could into my new journey.

Kirstie working on patterns of her New Zealand handmade dog clothes and dog bandanas
One of the Many Late Nights Working on OtiBoaty Boutique

I'll be honest, it was difficult. With a full time job, Otis' Instagram account to run, a puppy to care for, a Fashion and Design course to study for, a global pandemic with New Zealand in lockdown and a life with normal responsibilities to keep up with, there were times I wanted to cry. Times I did cry. It was difficult, extremely time consuming, intensely frustrating at times and yet so very rewarding. More exciting than I can even begin to explain. This is my passion.

Truly, dog clothing, as oddly specific as it sounds, is my passion. There isn't anything else I'd rather spend my time doing. That reason alone is how this page exists, OtiBoaty Boutique is running and how I can say I own my own business, despite everything.

Otis in his dog coats and dog jacket with matching dog leash
Otis In The First Well-Fitting Dog Coat I Was So Proud Of

I shared pictures of Otis in the clothes I was making and people were loving them! Friends and family all made the same comments, telling me I needed to sell these. So, that's exactly what I decided to do! This motivation from everyone around me, as well as the excitement I felt and fun I had designing and making these pieces for Otis was enough for me to really give it my all, regardless of how scared I was.

One Of The First Things I Handmade & Shared
I ditched Pupperazzi Pet Clothes and decided our brand needed to be something more about Otis, considering it would never have come about without him. This is why we're 'OtiBoaty' Boutique - this was his main nickname.

Otis is the main reason this entire dog apparel business exists and so naturally he would be the CEO with me - our main model and my main inspiration. I love Otis with all my heart, he's an absolute bundle of crazy, loving, joy. Otis is so much more than just our dog. He is my inspiration, my motivation, a BIG reason I am now so on top of my anxiety, he's the entire reason OtiBoaty Boutique exists.

I've since quit my reception job and trained to become a photographer and dog handler at a doggy daycare after discovering just how happy dogs make me. OtiBoaty Boutique and Pets and Pats Doggy Daycare is now what I do full-time and I've NEVER been happier.

That's pretty much it about us! TL;DR we're a puggy and mumma who have a passion for puppy fashion!
With Love,

Business Manager & CEO of OtiBoaty Boutique,

Kirstie Wilson & Oti-Boaty xo
Kirstie with Otis showing matching clothes with dog and trendy dog walking clothes
Back to blog