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Nine to Fido: Gina Jones of Tilly’s Studio

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Does the thought of returning to work bring on the Sunday night dread? Monday mornings give you the back-to-work blues? Does a working day spent with dogs sound like heaven, or close to? You’re not alone.

There are lots of people in the UK who have ditched the regular nine to five in favour of the Nine to Fido, forging a successful career around dogs. Gina Jones, founder of pet photography service Tilly’s Studio, is one of them and today she gives Barkarama an insight into her working day ...

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First things first, we're guessing that the ‘Tilly’ part of your company name has something to do with the dog in your life?
Yes that’s right. Tilly is my Yorkshire Terrier and is very much the inspiration for starting the studio. As a young lady living in London juggling work, my hobbies and a social life, spending time with Tilly wasn’t easy. I absolutely LOVE dogs and I’d dreamt of creating a lifestyle where I could enjoy them every week whilst making a living. The thinking caps went on and after months of research, saving up by working all the hours possible doing every job you can imagine, I decided to take a risk to open Tilly’s Studio. We got the keys for our studio in Turnham Green, West London in January 2013 and it’s been non-stop since.

A photo-studio dedicated exclusively to dogs is not your average pet business. What made you choose this particular route?
I know people love their dogs like part of the family so I wanted to provide a service where they could all spend quality time together and have photos to cherish for life. Plus I wanted an excuse to play with dogs every week.

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Your job sounds very fun and a glamorous. Tell us about a typical working day at Tilly's Studios.
A typical day includes phone calls, emails, research and meetings – the standard office stuff – but I get to sneak in cheeky playtime with Tilly, which you wouldn’t be able to do in most office environment. There’s obviously also the main part of my business – the photo-shoots! We do up to three shoots per day, printing and processing photos and making sure everyone that experiences Tilly's Studio is absolutely over the moon. I love staying in touch with our clients and hearing what their pooches have been up to.

They say never work with children or animals. You must have some good stories to tell about happenings at the studio. What has been the most memorable?
In our first week of opening we had a phone call to photograph five Bichon Frise puppies. I got spoilt with kisses and cuddles from all of them, which was divine.

A little bird told us you act. Is that something that you still do alongside your doggie business?
Acting is a big part of my life and it’s partly why I set up Tilly's Studio.  I'm often darting across London for auditions so having a business that could be flexible was appealing to me. I've done a few bits and bobs so far but as soon as I'm in Hollywood you'll know!

The world of doggy business is booming. What other dog businesses and brands do you like and admire?
Lily's Kitchen has done incredibly well in a short space of time, and the other day Tilly tried Woof & Brew Tea. She was suitably impressed.

If someone was keen to follow in your footsteps what advice would you give?
Just make sure you enjoy yourself. It shouldn't feel like work, it should feel like a challenge. Regularly say to yourself how can I make this the best possible experience - one little improvement will go a long way.

You are still relatively new company on the doggy block. What can we expect from Tilly's Studio in the future?
We're really passionate about dogs that need re-homing. There are so many lovely families out there that could provide much needed homes. We're working on a few joint ventures to raise funds to make sure this can happen so watch this space.

For more information on Tilly’s Studios and to view their work visit Tillysstudio.com. Our chief reviewer and repawter Basil is one of the lucky pups to have been fortunate enough to enjoy the Tilly’s Studio experience. View his dog photo-shoot HERE.

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