Nathalie Knauf has a story to tell. It starts with a childhood incident that ignited her fondness for dogs and led her to become an enthusiastic champion of canine welfare. Find out more here.
It sure is a good time to be the dog of a rich owner, as the consumption of luxury and designer pet products has seen a significant boom in recent years.
Nowadays it is incredibly rare to come across an international designer brand which isn't selling a line of pet related products - from Gucci's €1,750 pet bowls to Louis Vuitton's €2,816 dog carriers, pet parents are certainly looking to keep their pooches pampered.
So, if you yourself happen to be in the market for a luxury diamond collar for your furry friend, then Nathalie Knauf, the founder of Knauf Jewellery and Soho Poms, a luxury dog shampoo and accessory brand, is your woman.
She has recently been showing off her latest lavish commission - a flawless diamond doggy necklace featuring a paraíba tourmaline pear-shaped pendant, valued at a staggering €755,000!
Aside from her business life, Knauf supports the work of several dogs' charities and she recently became a proud ambassador for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
Euronews Culture caught up with the London-based canine entrepreneur to discuss the role dogs have played throughout her life and the ins and outs of her work.
Dogs have always played an important part throughout your life. In fact, your fondness for them all started from a dramatic incident in your childhood?
Yes, I was raised with Italian Mastiffs and when I was three years old myself, my father and my grandmother went on a walk. I was running a bit in the fields and picking flowers. As we were walking a bicycle came by, grabbed me and left.
My father realising what had happened didn't know what to do, so told the dog to catch the bicycle. Luckily the dog understood what was going on and began running after the bicycle. You can imagine these dogs are pretty heavy so when it jumped on the bicycle everything went flying. I was flying, the cyclist was flying and the bicycle was broken.
By the time my father arrived the cyclist said 'I thought the child was lost and ran away'. So it was definitely a kidnapping attempt so I'm very lucky to still be here. My father only told my mother about the incident three years later because he was so shocked himself.
How many dogs do you currently own?
I have 11 dogs at the moment. 11 Pomeranians, which I call the Soho Poms.
Soho Poms is also the name of your bespoke small dog apparel and accessories company. How did this idea for this brand come about?
The idea really started organically when I started to buy a lot of products for my dogs. Leashes, harnesses, winter coats and beds etc... However a lot of the products broke pretty much after I bought them which upset me because if you do this investment for 11 dogs there is a lot of money involved.
So then I said well maybe I can do this better. So I started to create. I also came up with a shampoo which is amazing for dogs' fur and undercoat.
At the moment we're concentrating more on small to mid sized dogs, but next year we're going to put more emphasis on the needs of bigger dogs.
Qualifying as an economic analyst, you later quit the world of finance and went on to launch Knauf Jewels with your husband in 2011. How did you first get into the jewellery business?
Originally I was working in finance so I had nothing to do with jewellery. But I always loved the jewellery collection of my grandmother and I was fascinated by it.
Later I got married and my husband started creating jewellery himself, which he would send to family and friends. It started as a hobby for him but he started to realise he was selling quite a few, so he asked me if I wanted to join him on that project.
So I then said ok but I will need to learn it and understand what it is. I left my job and I went back to study gemmology for three years, while also building up the company. Now I create 60% of everything we do so I am completely involved.
You were recently commissioned by a client to make a diamond dog necklace worth €650,000?
Yes, I was asked to already do a project before from a client in London who wanted something to match their own necklaces and earrings. So I brought the idea forward and created this piece myself.
Of course it's a luxury but luxury for some people has no limits. It is definitely the most expensive dog item I have ever made. Even I don't own jewellery that expensive myself.
Where do you find the most fulfilment in your work?
Whether it's jewellery or dog accessories, or now diamond for dogs - I think what is most satisfying is if I see people wearing and using my creations, and getting good feedback.
'Oh I used your shampoo it was amazing, we loved it. I also used it on my hair. Can I buy another bottle?'.
I think that's the most satisfying. I think it's the worst if you buy something and it just gets neglected in a corner somewhere. I think that's sad.
You're now an ambassador for the Kennel Club Charitable Trust and have committed to gifting and raising £100,000 to help fund its welfare initiatives - what work do they do?
They do charity to try and help different projects. Some of them will be for dogs living on the street, others for puppy farming or to help dogs that are used in laboratories. So I am happy and honoured to support this good cause.
Percentages of all of my sales are going towards the charity. It's a collaboration we are continuing.
I can't be more proud to support this because humans can speak up for themselves when something is wrong but animals can't. And I think this is why they need all our help.
What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I really want to push forward my Soho Poms company and just to have it grow and grow. We want it to be the one stop shop to go for everything concerning dogs and also humans, such as lovely leggings you need in the morning to walk your dogs. We want to become the Amazon of the dog world.