DogBooties.com has customers all over the worldWhat has four legs, a snazzy new coat and all new matching booties? Why, a dog who has just visited the Duluth-based DogBooties.com.
By: Sarah Chapman , Budgeteer News
What has four legs, a snazzy new coat and all new matching booties? Why, a dog who has just visited DogBooties.com.
DogBooties is a diamond in the rough for dog owners, from New Zealand and Finland to here in the Northland. The company was founded here in 1993 by Louise Russell and her husband.
“I started as Arrowhead Fabric Outlet in 1993,” she said, “I would get many people in that were sled dog drivers (mushers), looking for fabric for dog boots. They kept asking me if I could make dog boots. I thought, How hard could it be to make dog boots?”
So, how was Russell able to start a new business and attract enough customers to be able to keep the business going strong?
Russell actually utilized her local resources at the University of Minnesota Duluth Center for Economic Development to make certain that her business would succeed in the short and long term. The center helped her through the process of setting up a new business as well as the hoop-jumping associated with the financing for the business.
Her business has done so well that she was the 2009 recipient of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Business Person of the Year Award, which recognizes entrepreneurs and business owners from throughout the Twin Ports and northeastern Minnesota.
Another key to the success of DogBooties is keeping the craftsmanship local.
“All of the products that are sewn are made in my shop on Garfield Avenue, and the supplies come from the West Coast or the East Coast,” Russell said.
She said that the hardest part in starting to design the dog boots was finding the right fabric. But find the right fabric she did: Her lineup of fabrics to choose from on her website includes fleece; 330, 500 and 1000 Cordura fabric; and Toughtek 9000 fabric. The fabric choices give her customers a wide range to choose from when it comes to the needs of the individual dog in regard to toughness and flexibility of the fabric.
The 330 Corduras are the best-selling booties for sled dogs and have been the official booties of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon for the last six years.
They have also been used in sled dog races in New Zealand and used by contenders in the Iditarod from 2000 to 2009.
Even if the booties aren’t used for sled dogs, their usefulness doesn’t stop there.
The booties have been used in the roughest conditions, such as protecting little feet in the hot sand of Afghanistan to debris from the World Trade Center attack, as well as protecting paws from broken glass and drug needles.
Russell says that her typical customer is a musher who orders 2,000 to 5,000 booties along with dog collars, jackets and hardware.
She does also have pet owners in need of her bootie-making services.
“The typical pet owner usually orders a set (four booties) and other items, such as a jacket, collar or several sets of dog boots,” Russell said.
Other dog accessories her company sells include leashes, blankets, harnesses, tote bags, ditty bags, mesh bags, leg wraps and “adopt me” vests.
The “adopt me” vests have been especially important to animal shelters throughout the country as a way to market dogs that otherwise might be euthanized.
Russell says that about 95 percent of her business with the remaining 5 percent being local, walk-in business.
Russell’s miniature longhair dachshund gets to reap the benefits of her mom’s talents with several dog jackets, booties, collars, leashes and blankets.
Check out the selection at DogBooties.com or give them a call at 727-3121.