How it began
I have been making custom dog clothes for more than 10 years now (hard to believe……the time has flown!). I didn’t really think much about making anything for profit before then and certainly about having my own online business. It is funny how life works.
I was an RN for lots of years, but tired of the long shifts, working weekend and holidays, running all day and having very little control over how my day went. It was good, mostly, but I wanted a change. That’s when life decided to intervene.
Life works in mysterious ways
I broke my ankle, so I could not work as a nurse until I healed up. But I am the type of person who doesn’t sit still much, so I was wanting something to do. We had an old sewing machine sitting around and I decided to mess around with it.
At about the same time, I had a friend who had a little local coffee shop that sold gifts and trinkets. She would buy dog coats made out of repurposed second hand clothes from another lady in town who needed the extra cash. They were stacking up at her shop!
People buy dog coats, really!
We got to talking and I told her I was looking for something to do and would try to list them on ebay. Many of them sold there. However, in trying to sell them, I kept hearing from this person who had a dachshund or that person who had a Mastiff that was having a hard time finding something to fit their dog. Since I was learning how to sew, I told them I would make coats for their dogs. I did this a few times and thought maybe I could try putting together a website and seeing if I could sell the coats I was making.
I can start a business!
I put together a website, and then put together an Etsy site. I talked to more and more people about it and started trying social media or google ads for marketing. And I quit my RN job.
I also started looking at agility trials and dog shows. Turned out I could set up at events and sell my stuff there too! It was alot of work going to events and setting up a booth, then taking it all down, preparing for another show and doing it all again, but it was really great!
At the shows, I talked to lots and lots of dog lovers. They liked the fact that I made coats to fit their dogs. So many of them told me how tired they were of buying stuff that didn’t fit. Or not being able to find the right raincoat. Many of my clients would ask me about this or that item they were looking for and usually I could come up with a way to get it done for them.
What is a dog cool coat?
I was at an agility trial when one of my clients came up and asked if I made cooling coats. I didn’t even realize they existed, but it made sense that they would be helpful. Since dogs can’t cool themselves off very easily, having a cool coat to help them made summer agility trials and dog shows much more enjoyable.
I researched online and found the “Sham Wow” fabric company. This fabric is fantastic because it is
1) machine washable
2) doesn’t get stiff
3) has a nice feel to it
4) holds on to water without being super heavy or drippy
5) stays damp for quite a while. I have timed it to last at least a couple of hours and often longer depending on weather.
And a product is born!
I started designing them more or less like my winter coats. I made up a bunch and took them on the road. They were a huge hit! Especially since it was hot at the show I attended that first time. And over the years, turns out they hold up well too. I have talked to people who have been using the same coat for 2, 3 or even more years and still loving them. Now I make several styles of functional cool coats and show dog cool coats. They are one of my main products. I love making them and knowing that they are helping dogs and people enjoy themselves.