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Young woman grows ‘dog undie’ business to $1 million from nothing

Entrepreneur Emily Martin and pet
Emily Martin is one of many young entrepreneurs opting to start their own businesses rather than working for employers. (Source: Supplied)

At just 23, Queenslander Emily Martin has built a $1 million business from nothing - selling dog nappies.

The reusable nappies are not for lazy dog owners who don’t want to pick up after their pets, Martin told Yahoo Finance, but for dogs suffering health issues that make them incontinent.

They are also useful for female dogs in heat, she said.

Martin is one of many young people opting out of the traditional workforce to start their own business.

A GoDaddy survey of more than 1,000 Australians aged 18-24 found one in four would rather own and run their own business than work for someone else, even if it meant taking a pay cut.

How it all started

The idea for Dundies - dog undies - started in 2019 when Martin was still at university.

She was looking for a product for her bulldog puppy, who was inconinent due to a condition called spina bifida.

Martin scoured the internet for a solution, but none of the products she ordered worked. So, with the help of her vet, she developed her own reusable nappy.

After several pet owners contacted her on social media, asking about the product they could see her dog wearing in photos, she decided to turn it into a business.

She had very little upfront capital to work with, but managed to scrounge some money together from selling all her stock from her existing pet product side hustle.

She’s since left her midwifery degree to focus on her fast-growing business, which has turned over almost $1 million in three years.

Sewing from home

Martin wanted to keep the manufacture of her product onshore, but she found this particularly difficult because most manufacturers were booked out years in advance.

She came up with a creative solution to this problem by employing people to make the nappies in their homes.

This turned out to be an attractive job for mothers who could look after their children during the day and spend a few hours sewing in the evenings.

“They've got really flexible hours,” Martin said.

“It gives a really great work-life balance, and helps people bring income into their families.”

She now has a team of 13 working for her.

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