Fran on the beach. | Fran Patel

The lack of tourists the past 24 months has made some people despair, others reinvent themselves and find alternative ways to support their families. In hard times families are extra important and this year our four-legged friends are now a part of the family by Spanish law. As I have mentioned before Mallorca is the capital of dog owners in Europe. We have more dogs per families than any another city in Europe and there is not much competition for this type of market.

I heard about Fran Patel before and at Christmas she offered a donation-based photo session for your dogs, and she gave the winnings to a local dog pound. I asked Fran to come over for a coffee and tell me more about how she ended up in Mallorca and how she decided to be a Dog Lifestyle photographer on Mallorca.

Fran was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in UK for several years where she had a dog sitting business. That is also were she started taking professional photos of dogs. First her own two dogs and later the dog she was pet sitting. Prit, her husband originally from UK and two dogs moved to Mallorca in 2021. “We had to rent the place by video as we were on total lockdown in Germany. It was a huge challenge to get everything sorted and scary to move over without having seen our new home, but we were luckier than most. The landlord is great and we really enjoy living on the east coast,” she says and smiles.

Her business idea is clear “I exclusively photograph dogs and their humans. No weddings, events, or babies.” The season has already started, and Fran will be travelling over the island this spring to take wonderful photos of happy pets.

Ulf Bernström, Swedish born from the south of Lapland, is a professional singer and owns the islands only Lifestyle and high-end luxury clothes and accessory shop for dogs.
He started his career abroad as an entertainer and singer and he continues to do shows and performances in hotels until only recently. In 2002, he decided to move to Spain full time and settled down on the island of Mallorca. Two years later driven by his passion for dogs, he set up his first business focused on them, Palma Dog.

“I have always liked fashion, design and animals, especially dogs,” he says. “Without any doubt my grandparent’s animal farm had a great influence on me during my childhood. My uncle was the owner of a shop selling accessories for animals, as well as being a dog breeder. Every time we paid him a visit, he was surrounded by puppies, which has a lot to do with me at present.

“However, I would have never imagined that one day I would open a designer shop for dogs in Palma de Mallorca. It is a dream come true. We carry many of the coolest brands there are. I have 4 criteria that I ask the different brands of their product: it must be from a democratic country with human rights, animal rights and with a commitment to nature.” Some products are made in Mallorca and others even made by Ulf himself.

“I am passionate about fashion and dogs, and for years I amused myself by looking for accessories for my pets. I searched on the Internet and on my journeys around the world, but the truth is that it was difficult to find things that suited my taste. That’s why, in 2015, I underwent an attack of “temporary insanity” when I came across the establishment that today hosts Palma Dog and there, I started to create my project”. What really makes Palma Dog different from other pet shops is, indeed, Ulf’s criteria.

He personally selects each of the products he offers to clients. “The difference lies in the selection. I care about knowing where the products are produced, if human and animals’ rights have been considered during their production; I also investigate the materials to make sure they conform to Palma Dog’s slogan: ‘Design, Quality and Health for your dog’.” Some of the products he sells are his own production, a topnotch dog bed called Wi-Fi named after one of Ulf’s own dogs and he also make dog baskets himself in the workshop he has under the actual shop, and he is indeed very creative, this bed took a while to develop, and the result is comfortable and unique.

As a small business owner, Ulf has seen big challenges the past 24 months, many of the clients in the past have been tourists that come in to look for the perfect gift for their 4-legged friends. The upside is that a lot of people have changed their lifestyle and started to work from home, they have more time and many have new pets since the pandemic started. “I hope more expats will find their way here,” he says with a smile. “People from UK and North of Europe treat their animals like a family member without needing a special law that says so, and there is a good possibility to extend the market for accessories and designer clothing for dogs here. Especially thanks to the amount of people from different countries who move here with their pets.”

We do hope that 2022 is going to be a comeback year and that both of these businesses will be blooming.