Connect
To Top

Hidden Gems: Meet Penelope Di Palma of Zelda & Harley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Penelope Di Palma.

Hi Penelope, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I first started learning how to sew during the pandemic. I had never used a sewing machine before. When we were early into the pandemic and were working from home, I was looking for a hobby during the evening, especially since in Ireland, at the start of lockdown, there was a 2km radius that we could not go beyond.

You may be asking why am I talking about Ireland? That’s where it all started before we launched our business here in Austin, Texas!

From making face masks, I started making dog bandanas, all from my kitchen table. I quickly realized my two little dogs could only wear so many bandanas, and we could only have so many face masks… so I decided to start selling them.

To add to my list of pandemic hobbies and thinking of what else I could sell, I bought some resin (and the protective equipment) and started making pet tags in our spare room. Soon after, I launched my online shop in July 2021, selling handmade bandanas and pet tags. Soon after, I ordered my first batch of harness, leashes, etc., which were launched in Ireland in August 2021.

The drawings on our harnesses and most products are made by me. Since I was a child, I loved drawing and arts, and feel like I finally found my passion and something I enjoy working with.

At the end of 2021, my partner received a job offer, which meant we had to relocate to the United States. We decided to take the opportunity and also launch the business here, based from Austin, Texas. That meant our family is now looking after the business in Ireland while we are expanding in the USA.

Just as I started in Ireland, I launched in the USA by selling handmade bandanas and resin pet tags. We have our harnesses collections arriving in a few weeks, which includes some new designs. By the time this article gets published, we should be up and running with our amazing harnesses collections!

We sold to so many countries so far and are extremely excited for what’s to come and grateful to all our amazing customers! Looking forward to what lies ahead!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Setting up a business and making products while also holding a full-time job was stressful at times. Between designing new products, making bandanas and tags, developing and updating the website, keeping Instagram active and creating content, organizing product manufacture and shipping, and many other business related tasks, as well as finding time to walk and look after our two dogs, and work on our day time job, we had very little free time available. However, this all started during the pandemic, so we didn’t have much else to do anyway…

For us, the most stressful part is actually when the products are going live on their launch day because we don’t know if it’s going to be well-received or if our customers are going to like it. We got many great feedback about our products and have many repeat customers, which means people do actually like them, which is amazing.

We get photos from friends and family at times showing unknown dogs out and about wearing the products we designed. This is incredible and makes it all worthwhile!

As you know, we’re big fans of Zelda & Harley. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Dogs bring so much fun and joy to our lives, which is why we name our business after our two little cavachons, Zelda and Harley. They inspired us to start this business, as we love spoiling them.

During the pandemic and lockdown, we were all feeling bit low and needed some motivation on our day to day, as well as distraction from all that was going on in the world (and still is), even if only for a few minutes. We wanted to create something good, fun and positive not only for ourselves but for our family, friends, and now our customers and their pets. This is what lead us to start this business, and it’s also what keeps us going.

Pets are amazing for our mental health, and we wanted to spoil them a little (OK, a LOT!). Receiving feedback, messages and photos from our customers makes our day! We love seeing all the dogs wearing our products on social media as well as out and about.

We specialize in pet harnesses, leashes, collars, and accessories, with many more ideas and products to come in the near future. The designs on our products are unique and designed in house by us, which sets us apart from others. We love personalization and have personalized bandanas and pet tags available on our website. It makes the product a little bit more special when you know it’s custom made for you.

We are amazed by how well the business have been received and so grateful to our customers. We have so many repeat customers, it’s incredible. It makes us really proud to see that a business that started on my kitchen table in Ireland is now in two countries and has shipped globally to so many places, including Japan, Singapore, UK, Brazil, and Germany.

Our goal is for everyone to find something they like on our website. We love hearing people’s feedback and hearing design ideas, so we know what our customers want. We are also offering a special 10% off for those reading this on the magazine. To avail of this, they can add VOYAGEAUSTIN during checkout!

In the near future, we also want to expand our product range to include sizes and cool designs for larger dogs. So watch this space!

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
This can sound like a cliche, but the main advice I can give is to do something you love and are passionate about, so it won’t feel like work. There will be something in it you are not a huge fan of doing, such as bookkeeping, but if you love what you do, this will be easier, as long as your business motivates you and you are proud of it.

S go for it and don’t give up! I certainly learnt a lot since I started, and it has been really great and inspirational.

Pricing:

  • Adjustable Harness: $28.99
  • Resin pet tags: $16.50
  • Leashes: $18
  • Collars: $16.50
  • FREE shipping on all US orders

Contact Info:


Image Credits
@itsminimilo @dolly.doodle2020 @midas_thecockapoo @princess_sally_therescue @cockapoo.cavapoo.bailey.teddy @lenny.bordercollie

Suggest a Story: VoyageAustin is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Local Stories