After five hours here, I’m trying to talk myself out the door.
One-of-a-Kind Show and Sale is my favourite holiday tradition (next to Boxing Day). From November 23 to December 3, 2017, the halls are decked at Toronto, Ontario’s Exhibition Place trade show floor with hundreds of Canada’s best artists, crafters, independent clothing designers and artisan food producers.
And handcrafted pet gear, of course.
Each year seems to add another pet exclusive vendor to the long list of everything and anything uniquely handmade – soap, linens, leathers and slippers. Pottery, purses, peanut butter and pillows. You get the idea.
Among it all, a few artists who create pet products as their exclusive focus. Really cute pet products.
“I kept losing leashes,” Sharyn Cathcart of RUCKUSdog tells me, “or my dog would pick up a leash and run off with it” So she designed a custom leash hanger just for the dog.
Yes, it’s a wooden reclaimed board with one peg, but with a country rustic graphic celebrating specific breeds … and a few generic ‘spoiled dog’ versions too. Based in Toronto, Ontario, Cathcart is also an illustrator. But for the last eight years, she’s run RUCKUSdogs, transferring dog graphic to reclaimed barn board, tins, magnets, pillows and even belt buckles.
Rover Pet Boutique
Annemarie Minardi started Rover Pet Boutique in a similar way: build it and they will come. Well, in this case, sew it and they will ask for it.
“I got a pug named Ella about ten years ago,” she says. “I couldn’t find cute things for her that represented my personal style, so I started sewing bows and a classic navy peacoat. Then neighbours and friends starting asking for some similar.”
Rover Pet Boutique was born and is now in its seventh year at One-of-a -Kind selling cat and dog collars with bows and flowers, bandanas in trendy preppy prints, coats with corduroy elbow patches, and pleated dresses that would make L.L. Bean proud.
Party Animal Pets
In case you don’t have enough dapper dog duds yet, Party Animal Pets – pet gear with panache – was at the show with its designs: tweed dog coat harnesses (complete with pocket scarf), collared ties for office bound hounds (and cats) and of course bows.
“I love animals,” says Joanna Holmes who started Party Animal Pets ten years ago in Victoria, British Columbia, “and I wanted to create something wearable for animals that are comfortable, not costumes.”
Protection from the elements is a big concern for Holmes, especially along the West Coast. “Our pets are acclimatized to indoor life with us, so they require protection from the rain and cold,” she says. Part Animal coats and harness vests are designed to keep out moisture, keep body heat in and add visibility with reflective tape. For smaller dogs, Holmes can add d-hooks for leashes to the back of the jackets – clever.
But the surprise of the show today: shiny baubles.
Yes, jewellery. Bright sparkly objects are my squirrels.
Glamjulz invites us to ‘show our sparkle.’ Burlington, Ontario-based designer Monica Graves strings glittery beads in versatile lengths and layers. Any for dogs?
Well, not exactly.
What caught my eye? The ‘Love and Loyalty’ bracelet with clear sparkling beads and a small silver paw print charm. Not only because the proceeds from the sale of this piece are donated to Ladybird Animal Sanctuary – but also because Ladybird is the organization that rescued my cat Daisy.
The ‘Love and Loyalty’ bracelet is my Christmas gift to me (and others like Daisy).
Turns out, I did end up with something for me too. Any doubts?