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The Coronavirus pandemic has certainly made things trickier for small businesses – and even put some out of business for good. So it’d be crazy to build and launch a start-up in this climate, right? Nope.

READ MORE: Your Ultimate Guide To Marketing A Niche Business Or Product

Hayley Doron-Weil did just that. The co-founder, creative director and CEO of (which she launched before COVID hit) started her second business,, slap in the middle of the pandemic.

If you’re one of the many people itching to ditch that full-time job and try your hand at self-employment, then you’ll do well to listen to exactly how she did it.


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Wishing all the fur kids out there and their hoomans all the unconditional love in the world ❤️ #urbanhoundsocial #valentines #puppylove? #instadogs #dogsofinstagram #love

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The two businesses… explained – an exciting, proudly South African fashion and lifestyle brand – was born out of Hayley’s love for pups. Everything the business makes is deeply rooted in the African continent and is ethically handmade with love, in South Africa, by local artisans.

From 100% cotton, SA Shweshwe heritage fabrics to vibrant prints from across East and West Africa, and the muted tones of local cotton twill, each Urban Hound Social piece is a carefully considered gift for pups (and pup parents, of course).

“I wanted to make their lives as beautiful as they make mine,” says Hayley of the business. And because pups will always be pups, they also make sure every item is stitched with the highest quality thread and made with breathable, lightweight fabrics – strong enough for any naughty pawskie. – an online retail platform that specialises in the creation of digital ads and creative ideas – was born out of Hayley’s love for social media advertising. “I have 15 years’ experience in the industry and I wanted to democratise digital advertising with rates and timelines that fit into the new world we live in. I believe that every brand deserves good quality work with transparent fees and at a speed that achieves goals in a realistic time frame,” she says. takes the services of a modern digitally-focused advertising agency and places them in an e-commerce framework. Basically, it’s online shopping for digital advertising.

“[It] works exactly like any other e-commerce platform. Think Amazon, Superbalist, Zando,” says Hayley. On, you shop for your digital advertising products, which are then delivered – in this case, to your inbox, not your mailbox. “You also get to co-create and collaborate with us on the unique products you’ve ordered. Everything is custom made.”

Starting a second business during lockdown – lessons learnt

“[Lockdown] took its toll on We weren’t able to manufacture or ship our products and in-person sales totally fell away. We’re still recovering from the severe ramifications of COVID-19,” says Hayley.

With this in mind, and with her advertising knowledge and experience, she decided to launch a business that would help others access high-quality social media advertising in a time when it was needed the most. “I wanted others to be able to advertise their business with ease… I was poised to be the help that was needed,” she says.

How to sustain a business after lockdown…

The only way to sustain a business is with hard work, says Hayley. “I’ve learnt that the hard way. With we were lucky enough to have purchase a large number of goods during the lockdown and they’ve been selling them on their platform for the past few months,” she says. (They made an exclusive range of colourful beds with matching fitted sheets that they only sell on

“We’ve also been part of an amazing pet pop-up called Oobu Life, which is set at the lovely 44 Stanley in Johannesburg,” she adds.

“As for, I’ve been lucky enough to be super busy during this time with amazing brands from global to local. It’s been one of my biggest joys and I’m looking forward to working on many more exciting projects going forward,” she says.

The challenges that come with starting a new biz – and how to overcome them

Starting a business, creating a brand and finding the right clients isn’t easy. “It’s not glamorous. You take on many roles and I’ve often found myself buried in far more work than I can handle,” says Hayley. “I’ve also found that I needed to hire certain specialised people, especially when it comes to finances and bookkeeping.”

Marketing tips to boost your business

Hayley used Facebook and Instagram as the primary tools to market and she used LinkedIn to market
“Social media was how I got the word out there for the most part,” she says.

“Luck has allowed me to be featured by a few journalists and I’ve had a few pieces written about both and…

“Luck and a ton of hard work, that is. One always needs both,” she adds.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hello Team,

    I just launched my online business during lock down. It is an online chanell called “Business Simply Done’ and focuses on Coaching, Lifestyle, Business, Campaigns and Reviews. ON the 30th of October I’am activating an article write up focusing on 5 phenomenal woman who have along side myself started businesses during the pandemic. I would like to participate as a contributor writer and share the articles with your organisation as I find this appealing to the brand. Looking forward to your response.

  2. Hello Team

    Being in the tourism industry for 12 years and then loosing my job to this pandemic has forced me to tap with and realise my potential. I have opened my own travel agency called Travel Galore which caters for corporate and leisure travel.
    I would like to share my experience of how the pandemic affected agents in the tourism sector as we are still trying to find our way to recovery.

    Would this brand be relevant to the tourism market.
    Most definitely.

    I look forward to hearing from you

    Best regards

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