Pooches & Prams meet…

We’d heard about Naked Hare through a friend who lived in SW London, we’d also heard that the lady who ran it was a mum with dogs…holy moly we thought, that’s a lot going on! There was no question, we just had to meet her.

We met Frankie on a sunny Friday back in May, we set up camp at the café a couple of doors from her salon in Brixton, ordered some coffee and cake and away we went. Frankie is one of those women who you feel like you’ve known forever, her warmth and openness leaves no question as to how and why she’s ended up doing what she does.

After spending many years working for Treatwell “I got to see first hand how hundreds of salons operated across the country, it gave me such an insight into what makes a beauty salon successful” she decided to take the plunge and open one of her own, “I had the right support around me to do it, the property that came up was across the road from where I live, it all just felt like too good an opportunity to turn down”. Her mother, an interior designer, designed the salon, and her sister, runs the salon with her, a family business through and through.

Naked Hare opened in 2017 and shortly after Frankie was pregnant with Siena, her second child “it wasn’t the most ideal timing wise!”. Frankie now juggles running her business with being mum to Harrison, 8, Siena 7 months and her two French bulldogs, Henry and Opie. “Henry was my dog, he’s now 3, and Opie was my partner James’ dog, we were set up on a blind date because we both had frenchies. On the first date, normally people would carry on to a bar after the date, we jumped in a cab and picked up the dogs to introduce them!” The rest they say is history.

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It’s interesting hearing Frankie chat about how she juggles everything “I’m lucky in that I have help from my mother in law and my mum, and I live across from the salon, so I can sometimes work from home, but that’s tricky with a 7 month old. As much as I want my business to succeed and i’m so proud of where we are at, I also have to make sure I make time for my children, when I’m not distracted by work, which is so hard when everything is on your phone and so easily accessible”. We’ve chatted about this concept before in previous posts that it’s impossible to be the mother you want to be and have the career you want to have if you don’t ask for help, there isn’t the time in the day otherwise so there has to be a balance. Frankie showed us that actually it’s ok to ask for help, but also that it’s ok to be a new mum and still have dreams of achieving something big outside of motherhood. Our chat got us thinking about what it is to be a mum nowadays, how important the network of people you form around you when you have children is so important “my group of mums that I meet up with on a weekly basis are literally my sanity, it’s invaluable to have people around you who are going through the same thing as you with your baby. Some days I feel like I have no idea whether I’m coming or going, I’m here there and everywhere and feel like I’m not doing any of it particularly well, that’s why I sometimes have to take time out, just to talk to other mums and to know I’m not the only one feeling like this”.

We chat extensively about the relationship between the kids and the dogs and how that has a massive impact on her daily life. “Henry is a complex character, he’s rescued and has traits that I’ve spent years trying to figure out, I’ve worked with numerous behaviourists, vets and trainers and he is somewhat of a mystery, don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful dog but he does require some extra attention. Opie’s the opposite, he loves kids and would happily play with anyone and everyone, he’s so gentle and just wants fuss whereas Henry isn’t keen, he likes to do his own thing, so I have to be extra vigilant when it comes to this. For example, I wouldn’t ever walk Henry to go and pick Harrison up from school as he would just find the noise, amount of people and the fuss too overwhelming, so I take Opie with me, and then Henry goes out a different time”.

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When it comes to having a household that includes kids and animals it can be full on and there does have to be boundaries put in place to keep everyone safe and happy “the best thing we did was get a stair gate for the kitchen, so I know when Harrison or Siena’s friends come over, I can put the dogs behind the gate so the children can be free and I know everything is under control, I think it’s different when the kids are older, but when they are this little and I’ve got one dog who’s not comfortable in certain scenarios this is what’s working for us at the moment. Our house isn’t massive, so when the dogs are in the kitchen they can still see everyone so they don’t feel excluded, in fact, they’re not bothered, it gives them a bit of space as well which is a good thing”.  

“I worked at Battersea dog’s home for years and saw on multiple occasions dogs having to be rehomed due to a change in family circumstances such as children coming along. I’m so passionate about making sure that kids (and parents) are educated on how to interact with dogs, I try and explain to children about Henry, I tell them he’s a little grumpy and doesn’t like to play and although mostly they understand there are still some that forget and just run up to him to give him a cuddle, which just frightens the life out on him”.

Frankie talks a lot about how she believes that bringing up children with animals is a wonderful thing, seeing how her eldest shows empathy and gentleness around her dogs reinforces this, “but of course they are another 2 living things that you’re responsible for, which I wouldn’t change for the world, but honestly sometimes I think the dogs are harder than the kids! I worry a lot about them and put a lot of energy into making sure they are ok because they are part of the family. We’ve spent a fortune on one to one dog walkers for Henry to give him that extra care he needs to be content, I’ve put hours into researching how to work with his behavioural concerns, it certainly hasn’t been straight forward but I of course want to give him the best life I can, for him and my kids”. And that’s the thing isn’t it, having a household with dogs and kids can be full on, it’s physically tiring, it’s mentally tiring and it can be financially tiring. Throw all this on top of running a business, and trying to carve your own path for your future, really makes us so proud to meet mamas like Frankie, we can’t have our s**t together all the time, but you know what that’s ok.

Our chat really echoes what we’ve talked about a lot before at Pooches & Prams and that’s that raising a family with dogs and children does take work if you want to get it right. Dogs don’t just automatically adjust to this massive change in their life, they need help, and it’s a constant process in order to successfully achieve this. BUT it is possible, Frankie proves this, put the effort in, care enough, be responsible, thoughtful and considerate to all people and animals involved and you can make it work. It’s so wonderful to meet other mums in the same boat as you, to hear their struggles but also their triumphs, it reminds us that anything really is possible if you put your mind to it.

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