Sassy Woof is a woman-owned and operated small business, and we love highlighting other creators and small business owners! For our first feature, we are introducing you all to Ming, the artist behind Tiny Dog Paintings! She creates custom illustrations of your pups that can then be purchased as prints, mugs, sweatshirts, phone cases, and more! Check out her work here.
Let's get in to it! So, who are you?
Hi! My name is Ming and I’m the artist behind Tiny Dog Paintings. I live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (yes, very far away!) with my husband and my 2 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Theodore & Goji, whom I adore to death. I’ve been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, but if you were to tell 12 year old me that one day I would be painting pets for a living full-time, I probably would’ve just laughed and said “I wish!”.
That's incredible! We work with dogs all day too and it's the best! Tell us more about what you do and how your company got started.
I started Tiny Dog Paintings in March 2020 almost by accident. I had just left my job as Head of Marketing at a fast-paced startup the month before with no backup plan. I was so exhausted and burnt out from the role that I knew just wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, but I knew that I would figure it out eventually like I always did. What I didn’t expect, however, was a global pandemic.
Suddenly, I wasn’t sure I would be able to ‘figure things out’ anymore and things got a lot scarier. That’s when I decided to turn to my art as a coping mechanism. Back in 2018, I had painted a mini Theodore (we only had him at that time) and I’ve had it framed and in my office ever since. Looking at the painting again gave me the idea of shrinking more dogs into little portraits. I started a new Instagram account and started painting a few cute pups I followed. I showed it to them, they loved it, reposted it on their pages and within just a few days of starting the account, I was getting commission requests. At that moment, I knew I was on to something so I decided to lean in and see where it took me.
I started with just watercolor portraits but soon introduced digital illustrations as well as add-on items like mugs, lockets, phone cases and apparel that dog lovers can have their sweet pups’ faces on. It’s been such a joy seeing people from all across the world enjoy my work!
Your journey sounds a little bit like ours! We had no idea that it would grow to what it did, but the pandemic really grew our businesses in a way that we were not expecting. It's so exciting! What is some advice that you would give to other small business owners?
Be ready for ALL the feels. Some days you’ll be on a high, excited at the potential ahead and feel like you can achieve anything. Other days you’ll question everything you’ve done or plan to do and think you’re out of your mind.
It’s simultaneously tiring and rewarding but then again, everything worth working for is, right? Find yourself a group of like-minded individuals who can support you. They don’t have to be in the same niche (in fact, it’s probably better if they aren’t so you get exposure into different areas) but it’s so helpful to have friends you can lean on to share the joy of your successes as well as the pain of your trials.
We agree! Collaborating with other small businesses has been a great experience for us. What is your favorite part about owning your own small business?
I love that I get to (virtually) meet people from all across the world - not just pet parents but other artists and small business owners too. I think the best part about running a small business in this day and age is that you’re not geographically bound. I live halfway across the world from most of my customers and it’s so wild to think that a piece of my art that was once on my desk could be proudly hanging in someone else’s home thousands of miles away.
That's the best! We have customers all over and it is such a fun experience to know your products are going all around the world. Is there anything else you want to tell us?
This September, our family of 4 will become a family of 5 with the addition of a new tiny human! Business is going to look a little different for a few months as I focus on motherhood (omg!) but I’m so excited to eventually start working on expanding the Tiny Dog Paintings product line further. My goal is to create beautiful and functional items that are for all pet lovers, not just owners. So if you adore Dachshunds, for example, but don’t actually own one that you can commission me to paint, well, fret not, because there will be plenty of other cute products with those hot dogs on it!
Congratulations! We can't wait to see what else you have in store! Be sure to check out Ming's work on the platforms below. ❤️