The owner of a luxury dog bedding company says she still finds it incredible that her ‘quirky little hobby’ has become a thriving small business with customers in over 60 countries around the world.

Christine Chau runs Trafford-based Charley Chau, an award-winning luxury dog bedding company that designs and sells high-end dog beds and blankets to customers ranging from ordinary dog lovers, to baronesses and billionaires.

The business was co-founded by Christine and her sister Jenny in 2010. After being unable to find a stylish, comfortable and well-made bed for her Italian Greyhounds, Christine decided to make one herself. She posted a photo of her creation on Facebook and was inundated with requests from pet owners who wanted the bed for their own dogs, and Charley Chau was born, named after her first Italian Greyhound.

Charley Chau started as a hobby that Christine juggled around her full-time job at the Mayor of London’s office but after two years, the business was really taking off.

Christine said: “Our quirky little hobby became too busy to manage in the evenings and weekends, and it clearly had potential. We either had to take the business seriously or close it down as it wouldn’t fit around my full-time job any more. I took a huge leap of faith – I left my job in London and started running Charley Chau full-time from my mother’s dining room in Brooklands. Nine years on and I still can’t believe that we’re still going strong.”

Within a year of focusing on Charley Chau, the business moved into premises on Talbot Road in Trafford, and then into a larger space in Trafford Park, and is currently in the process of moving again within Trafford to accommodate its continuing growth.

Christine joined the NatWest Accelerator. Fully funded by NatWest, the six-month programme is open to entrepreneurs of any age and at any stage of their business, including larger companies with higher turnovers. The Accelerator provides successful applicants with coaching and support and office facilities at its base Hardman Boulevard, Manchester.

Christine said: “Our early growth was very organic – we didn’t set out to be the next Pets at Home. We have established a luxury brand in the pet sector and we’re now focused on growing and scaling our business much more pro-actively. My previous career was in large corporates. I had no experience of running a business so the core educational side of the programme, with workshops covering critical aspects of business management, has been hugely informative.

"The programme has helped us develop a more strategic outlook, and helped us shape our scale-up plans. We have a great product and exceptionally high levels of customer satisfaction, and now we have solid plans for building on our existing success.”

Applications are now open for October’s intake at the NatWest Accelerator in Manchester.

Gemma Fattahi, Entrepreneur Development Manager in Manchester said: “Charley Chau is a fantastic business, and Christine and Jenny have proved they have the right mindset to support their business and help it flourish.

“The accelerator has helped hundreds of businesses achieve national and international success and we’re keen on helping more businesses achieve their goals. Crucially, the businesses we support succeed with over 80 per cent still operating after two-years. Our only goal is to help entrepreneurs wherever they are in the North West to succeed.”

Entrepreneurs can progress through the Accelerator programme up to a maximum of three times, making 18 months in total. The closing date for applicants is August 26. See