What started out as a family joke has turned into a successful business for pet lover Brett Weller.
The 27-year-old admits he began breeding reptiles by accident, but is so glad he did, as five years later it has led to him opening Brett’s Pets and joining forces with his family to set up Chorley Vets.
He says: “I have always been into animals. But 10 years ago I started breeding by accident as I thought I had two female bearded dragons, but one of them was actually male.
“I ended up with a clutch of eggs and so I researched how to incubate them.
“I built my own incubator and had lots of vivariums so I made a reptile room within my parents’ converted garage.
“My mum stuck a sign on the door, saying ‘Brett’s Pets’ as a joke.
“But it seems like a good idea and I got a licence and bought the shop in Market Street when I was 22.
“I find breeding really interesting and found there was a gap in the market. I have 16 snakes to breed from, plus a few lizards, some bearded dragons and two sugar gliders (a type of possum).”
It was not long before the rest of his family got involved.
His brother, Ryan, 21, helps to run Brett’s Pets and his mum, Sonia Green, used her expertise and contacts as a veterinary nurse to help launch Chorley Vets.
This operates within the pet shop and is run by Sonia and Brett’s sister, Kirsty Weller, 25.
He adds: “Our business is very family orientated.
“I am not a vet, but my mum is a veterinary nurse and she hired three vets.
“My brother runs the pet shop with me and my sister, Kirsty, runs the vets with my mum.
“Even my grandma, Carol Taylor, is in on it as she breeds rabbits in the back garden.”
Working at the pet shop and vets is a great learning experience for all concerned and Brett is always keen to reach out to the local community.
He adds: “We also work closely with colleges as we have work experience students coming to us.
“It is great fun being here and doesn’t feel like work.
“I am passionate about animals and enjoy caring for them and playing with them. At the shop and surgery, we put the care and welfare of your pets at the very heart of all that we do.
“We pride ourselves on first class customer service and, as a small practice, we place great importance on providing a great service with a personal touch.
“I have known of animals kept and bred in poor conditions as they are just kept in a drawer and barely fed. So I wanted to breed my own animals and know they were being kept in a friendly environment.
“I like chatting to people about them and passing on my advice on how to look after them.
“The hardest question in the world is what my favourite pet is. I can’t say one and not the other. I am more persuaded to say reptiles as I like my exotic animals.
“But if I had to choose I would say my two cats, Tia and Smudge, which I hand reared from the age of two weeks. I had to get up with them three times in the night. They would never have survived without their mum – I had no choice. As a result, I have got very attached to them.”
Brett was recently named winner at The Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards. His family-run shop and veterinary surgery was nominated by Lancashire Community Finance (LCF), the lender which provided the company with a start-up loan in 2013.
Brett says: “We never thought we would win. When we won this national award it woke us up a bit. We realised we must be good if we had won such a big honour.
“We started off with a loan for £10,000 and with a lot of hard work we have achieved so much.”
All staff members in the veterinary surgery were also nominated in the Petplan Awards.
Brett adds: “I am so very proud of this amazing team. Thank you to the lovely clients who have recognised us and took the time to nominate.”