The dog&boy design process

I’ve returned recently from a whirlwind week at the Life Instyle tradeshow, where I spent three fabulous days surrounded by fashion, homewares and beautiful things. I love these events, as I get to talk to like-minded people and learn how they bring their artistic visions to life.

During the show, I spent a lot of time speaking about the dog&boy design process. So many people were curious about how a scarf design evolves from the initial concept to the final creation – and it is a fun and fascinating process. In this post, I’ll share the dog&boy design procedure and how a moment in time becomes a forever fashion accessory.

It all starts with a simple moment

Every dog&boy scarf is unique, but they all share a common thread. Their designs are born from a simple moment or a single element that inspires the process of storytelling.

Sometimes it’s a drawing or painting – like the early designs inspired by my Mum’s botanical sketches, or my recent collaboration with abstract artist Chalie MacRae. However, most times, it’s a real-life moment. Something I’ve seen, felt, heard or experienced – even for the shortest time. I never know when inspiration will strike, but I’ve been lucky to capture some magical moments on camera.

My own personal photographs form the basis for many dog&boy designs and, from there, the creative process starts. We use different elements, like vector graphics, patterns or textured images to build the story. We then choose colours to complement the mood and purpose of each piece. If it’s an uplifting summer design that lends itself to beach days, we might use a bold base with pops of colour. For a broody winter piece, darker tones and muted shades often work best.

In addition to the visual elements, we also use words to give each scarf a story. Every scarf comes with its own design story postcard, including a few sentences about design inspiration, plus a quote that captures the essence of the piece. Here are the stories behind two of my favourite designs from the latest dog&boy collection.

On His Way

The On His Way scarf is close to my heart, and I know it resonates with so many women. This design is based on a photo of my son, Nicky, when he was about three years old. The photo was taken at a farm we regularly visit in the Yarra Valley near Melbourne, and I have a series of the same image taken every year from the age of two to six.

To me, this scarf represents that bittersweet sensation I have as a mother, watching my son make his way into the world. It’s that desperate feeling of wanting to hold him forever while knowing I need to let him go and discover all of the wonders that life has to offer and pave his own way into the world.

Design-wise, this scarf focuses on Nicky as the core subject and combines a line-based drawing inspired by a lithograph. The cool blue colours capture the feeling of winter on the farm – of Nicky being rugged up against the chilly wind in his waterproof boots and warm jacket.

The design's quote is by Vincent Van Goh, who said ‘Normality is a paved road. It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it’. My main wish for Nicky is that he always walks among the flowers.

dogandboy design inspoblue grey wool scarf


Road Less Travelled

The Road Less Travelled design is inspired by my own personal journey, from corporate world to scarf designer. I’ve always loved a challenge and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve shied away from the normal, the usual, the status quo. Quitting my job to become a scarf designer is one the craziest things I’ve done in my life, but it’s clearly a risk that’s paid off!

I hope this scarf inspires others to take their own risks and dare to dream. The thing about life is we always have choices. We don’t have to settle, but we so often do. We take the easy option – justify the path of least resistance – instead of acknowledging our need for change. Road Less Travelled is about taking the scenic route. Because, when we do, there’s almost always beauty on the other side.

The design for this piece is based on photographs from my travels to Hangzhou, China, where my gorgeous boutique textile print factory is located. The images are from the stunning gardens around the West Lake and the beautiful bamboo forest in Hangzhou, which I took when visiting early last year.

Hangzhou is steeped in history, and Marco Polo was one of the first westerners to famously travel across Silk Road into the unknown. His journey is metaphorical of my own foray into business and fashion. When I started dog&boy, I had no idea what to expect – but, if I didn’t try, I’d never know.

The quote for Road Less Travelled is by Confucious, who said ‘The greatest glory is not in never falling, but rising every time you fall’.

dogandboy design inspocharcoal wool scarf


Which dog&boy design speaks to you?

I hope these insights into the dog&boy design process spark your curiosity and inspire you to look at your collection in a whole new light. Perhaps you’ll find a story you hadn’t seen before. Maybe you’ll make up your own. If you have a favourite scarf design, I’d love to know which one and why.

Sonya xx


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