We were excited to sit down with Christine Chau, Co-Founder of luxury dog bed company, Charley Chau, to find out more about the inspirations and passions that led to her saying goodbye to a successful career in The City to focus on designing luxe dog bedding for the comfort of our four-legged friends.
It was a sunny spring day in London when Jenny, Christine’s sister and fellow pooch lover, as well as now fellow founder of Charley Chau, visited Christine for the weekend. Jenny walked into a house that had new four-legged company: Anna! Anna is Christine’s second Italian greyhound, joining Charley, her first. Christine soon filled in Jenny on the problem she was encountering. The new dog bed she’d ordered for Anna had arrived and just wasn’t suitable. While attractive, the bed wasn’t comfortable for the dogs. What was a sleepy pooch to do?
In an inspired lightbulb moment, sparked by Anna’s arrival, the sisters decided to make new beds for both Anna and Charley. After all, it wouldn’t be fair if Charley missed out!
“What is now the Charley Chau Snuggle Bed – complete with its signature pocket – was designed and handstitched there and then,” Christine laughs, remembering, “but we did a really good job and without realising it had a proof of concept for what was to become a new venture for us. Because first and foremost, we’d made a dog bed that was super comfy for our pups – and would stay comfortable over time.”
Pleased with their invention, the sisters uploaded snaps of Charley and Anna enjoying the new, super comfortable bed onto social media and were quickly inundated with interested comments from other dog owners.
“Even in that initial phase it was evident that our bed struck a chord with fellow dog lovers and owners because we had created a dog bed that was comfy, stylish and practical – something we’d certainly never encountered before!
The sisters started thinking more and more about the lack of good dog beds available and founded Charley Chau to focus on designing beds that stood the test of time, were stylish and most importantly as comfortable as caninely possible! Having just completed an interior design course at Chelsea Design School, Christine also understood, both as a dog owner and someone passionate about beautiful interiors, that a dog bed is very much part of the home.
Seven years later, Charley Chau has customers in 35 countries and has created different styles of dog bed that are designed to cater for different dogs and their different homes. The pup gang has also grown with Jenny and Christine now the owners of five Italian greyhounds, which they cite as the main inspiration behind everything Charley Chau.
“Living with dogs and understanding their needs is absolutely crucial in helping us design dog beds and blankets that our own dogs and other dogs love to sleep in,” says Christine earnestly, “dogs will tell you if they like a dog bed – they’ll either sleep in it or head to the sofa and stay there.”
Christine and Jenny’s tastes have also been a driving force behind their product design and what they believe and love about interiors. But more importantly, the beds reflect how intently they listen to their dog’s needs and those of other owners. Christine describes the time she and Jenny noticed how uncomfortable dog crate bedding was, so decided to make their own much more comfortable crate bedding. “It made the world of difference to our dogs,” Christine says, “as you’ve made what can be a stressful car journey more relaxing and more comfortable for them.”
Owning Italian greyhounds, and understanding their physical attributes, certainly contributed to the Charley Chau story in a big way too. They stand at just an average of 14 inches tall – so a lot smaller than whippets and greyhounds – and are bony, have bounds of energy and can be quite high maintenance, but worth it of course!
“Italian greyhounds have quite small frames and they get cold easily,” explains Christine, “so before we made our own beds we had a hard time finding raised beds that kept our dogs off the floor and away from potential drafts.
All five Italian greyhounds are expert bed testers! “Our pups give us the most valuable feedback,” Christine chuckles, “but so do our other canine customers and their owners. We love receiving photos from delighted customers of their happy dogs sitting in our beds!”
Christine and Jenny’s pups are Charley (nicknamed fat Charley because he’s so greedy), Anna (nicknamed Queen Anna because she rules the house), Tino (nicknamed Little Ninja because he’s so quick he can almost fly), Theo (nicknamed Little Stinky for reasons we won’t embarrass Theo with), and the newest addition to the pack, Mable (nicknamed Manic Mable because she’s got so much energy.) The dogs provide plenty of humour and their energy and agility has no end! Check out Manic Mable jumping to almost 6 foot!
Creating your pup’s pawfect bed
For All Four Paws, it’s lovely to encounter people so enthusiastic about dog-friendliness, so we were keen to find out Christine’s top tips for designing your dog’s ideal slumber spot.
- Observe how your dog likes to sleep – stretched out, curled up, under blankets, with their back snuggled into something soft. Bear in mind that other factors can influence their sleeping preferences. For instance, a dog will curl up into a tiny ball if they are cold or if it’s busy or noisy around them, not necessarily because they want to curl up in a small ball all the time.
- Choose the right shape – if your dog likes to nestle their back into something soft then look for a bed with deep, cosy sides; if they like to sprawl then a big flat mattress is more likely to be the right shape; if their bed is in a draughty spot look for a raised bed; if they love sleeping under blankets then look at adding some lush blankets for them to burrow into or a specialist design like a snuggle bed.
- Size matters – give your dog enough space to curl up or stretch out as the mood takes them. Just like we appreciate a little more space, so do our dogs! I’ve seen contortionist Labradors squeeze themselves into beds designed for Jack Russell Terriers but it won’t do their bones and joints any good if they have no choice but to sleep like that every day and every night.
- Think about how to dress the bed for your dog – blankets add a little extra comfort and are a very good way of helping to maintain a cleaner dog bed for longer – I think it’s fair to say that most dog owners will wash blankets form their dog’s bed much more frequently than the bed itself. If your dog gets hot, look for temperature regulating fabrics such as Merino Wool (warm in winter and cool in the summer) and if your dog feels the cold go for something like a gorgeously soft and warm faux-fur blanket.
- Practical considerations and the hygiene factor – make sure your dog’s bed is fully machine washable and if you don’t want to be throwing out lumpy dog beds every few months and spending money on replacing them, make sure that they are designed to survive the washing machine!
Our very own Rigby is the proud owner of a Charley Chau Ducky Donut bed and he can vouch for it being gloriously comfortable. In fact, he hardly ever leaves it, except for hugs. That’s our Rigby!
If you’re keen to find out more about Christine and Jenny’s paw story, or fancy meeting the five Italian greyhounds, visit Charley Chau.