Doggy Treats for Posh Pups
Ballet dancer, model, stylist and fashion/design blogger. And now Kate Horsman is adding product line creator to her resume.
In person she’s beautiful yes, and comes across as mild-mannered and genuinely nice. So nice in fact, that she’s giving a portion of the proceeds from her new line of doggy products to charity.
A dog lover myself, I was eager to check out DOG & CROW when it launched this summer. It includes doggy bandanas, beds, collars, leashes and food bowls. I’ve yet to show Ruby any of it as she’ll want every last piece. (Pst don’t say anything but she’s getting a new collar for her birthday.)
DOG & CROW came from Horsman’s love for two things; one, design and aesthetics; and two, her beloved rescue dog Sarge, with whom she had an incredible bond.
I asked Kate a few questions about launching DOG & CROW and what it takes to start your own product line.
Kristina: Why did you decided to do this?
Kate: I always felt like my home life, or lifestyle did not have much room for the products that Sarge loved and played with. Everything I could find for him was either rugged utility type stuff or very glittery feminine. I felt like there was this missing gap between home design, simplicity, function and taste. I wanted to be able to leave a dog bed out and it not distract from my living space and alternatively that the dog would also enjoy it just as much.
Kristina: What’s the meaning of the name, DOG & CROW?
Kate: Sarge unfortunately passed away just about 2 years ago. On the day that I left the vet’s office, I noticed a very large crow sitting outside the window. I acknowledged it, but didn’t think too much more of it. In the days that followed, I went into the woods hiking, to clear my mind and as I did, a very large crow/raven followed me from branch to branch. It was clearly enough sign for me to believe that my friend was still with me. [And] Sarge would sit and contemplate crows all day, while he was still here.
So in my efforts to start my company and thinking of the name DOG & CROW, I came across a similarly named fable by the brothers Grimm. It was a dark and sad story, that was so reminiscent of Sarge’s life prior to his time with me, that finally I felt this full circle moment where I knew what the name was obviously, but also what it stood for in helping animals, which is where my true passion lays.
Kristina: I think many people dream of creating their own line of products. How long did it take you?
Kate: It took close to about 2 years to get the business up and running. I felt the first year was really slow, but important creatively, and then the following year was more just a full-on work mode of getting it done.
Kristina: How many people are involved in the company?
Kate: I have built this company on my own, it is still only me, which can be extremely gratifying at times and at others, completely overwhelming.
Kristina: What were some of the biggest hurdles in creating all this?
Kate: The biggest challenge for me was finding highly qualified and reliable manufacturing. I was kind of stepping out there on my own without any prior knowledge of “industry” per se. So there were lots of trial and errors along the way of securing the people I have in place now.
Kate: I’m lucky enough to be able to say all my products are manufactured here in British Columbia! This was something that was important for me from the get go. Keeping manufacturing in BC and using high quality materials made it a luxury goods line right away.
Kristina: And the price range?
Kate: From $24.50 for a bandana with extra flair, up to $190 for a hand-died linen bed.
Kristina: Did anything surprise you about this whole process?
Kate: There were some pleasant surprises, and some not so pleasant. I still found it to be an intimidating process being a women stepping into some of these scenarios of business. I never really expected that. I must say that I have a whole new level of respect for female entrepreneurs. I’ve always felt like I have a good head on my shoulders and am thoughtful and articulate, and there were definitely times where I felt unfairly challenged or not taken seriously. The alternative to this is that when I found the right people, it was a very easy, natural and fair process.
Kristina: Do you have any advice to others who want to start their own product line?
Kate: Go for it. How cool is it to say that you created XYZ all on your own?! My other advice would be to take your time. Especially if you are working with a range of products, it takes some patience, planning and troubleshooting to get everything lined right up. I’m still working on this part.
Kristina: Where can I buy DOG & CROW?
Kate: All products are available on www.dogandcrow.ca. We may soon be branching off to some wholesaling, but for now you can purchase direct online and stay in the loop from there.
Kristina: And part proceeds go to the SPCA? One of my favourite charities too.
Kate: This company had to have a heart in order for it to be important enough to go through the blood, sweat, and tears of it all. SPCA was a natural fit concerning my relationship with Sarge, and now with my new dog Mary Jane. Keeping things local in our community and basing it around my love and inspirations…dogs!!