Somehow, it managed to be so cold here in Sunny California that my feet felt frozen despite the socks and fuzzy boots.
A short time later, as I was boiling myself alive in a bath tub, I started to think about some things. Of course I know what I wanted to build my company around. I’m more than familiar with my opinions, beliefs and feelings, but how do those things ultimately form the foundation for all of the other stuff I believe in and endorse?
How does it affect my customers, potential customers, and the vendors and brands I carry?
So, it occurred to me then to examine the brands I most admire, endorse so very shamelessly, and to detail the reasons *why* I do.
Ruff Ruff Couture is the first brand that immediately comes to mind. They are based in Southern CA, and I have personally met with them and toured their small manufacturing facility along with sitting down in their office to have a bit of a business meeting. Their company began with the vision of it’s founder, but as the years passed, she went on to other projects, and remains involved while Tom Tio is the company’s Manager. He is the one who invited me to visit, and so, Shiloh in hand, I did just that.
They make every single item in the USA, no further than right here in Southern CA. There are no large machines or assembly lines either, everything is hand sewn by their very skilled seamstresses. I had the opportunity to meet them as well, and my Shiloh was a huge hit because of course I’d made sure to put her in one of the very dresses they make for the occasion. They were thrilled to see her in it, as it’s not very often they have the chance to see the products they make on an actual dog in person.
I think we all agreed she totally rocked that dress.
In addition to making everything right here at home, Tom informed me that even the fabrics are purchased locally, and he chooses to buy textiles that are also made in the USA. He is living proof that one does not ‘have to’ manufacture overseas in order to have a successful business, and also an example of how one relatively small company can indeed create a positive impact not only in the local community, but nationwide as well. I’m sure the American textile companies he buys from appreciate his business when so much manufacturing has been outsourced, and so many jobs with it.
My reasons for wanting our own personal brand manufactured here have much to do with those considerations, but also extend to my feelings on ethical vs “OMG WTF!”. From workers’ conditions to the treatment of animals in some other countries, my feelings tend to range from OMG to WTF.
So, that is why I feel so good about supporting companies like Ruff Ruff Couture. It also doesn’t hurt that their products are of excellent quality, and completely adorable. I will offer a sneak peek here, and of course many of their wonderful items are available on our web site (www.shilohsdogboutique.com)
Since the weather is getting colder, let’s start with their coats.
This is their “Little Red Riding Coat”, and probably my most favorite. I made sure Shiloh had one.
It’s a beautiful, classic coat, and made to last.
I make it a point to put many of the products we sell on my own dogs so that I can honestly say whether it’s good quality or not, and Ruff Ruff passes that test as well. Shiloh will be wearing her little red coat for years to come. Provided we can keep her pudge in check!
Another great style, especially for those who love anything pink and/or fluffy is their “Fab Coat”
This one is also available in black.
They make all kinds of lovely coats, dresses, vests, dog carriers, toys, etc. You’re of course more than welcome to come visit us and see them all.
In the meantime, to show off their vests, I snapped an amateur IPhone shot of our own Jax wearing his “Kalo” vest.
This and the other Ruff Ruff Vests are found in our “Boy’s Closet”
So, amazing products, reasonable prices, and Made in the USA while also supporting local communities and American industry are why we love Ruff Ruff.
An individual Designer we adore, but who makes decidely higher-end more luxury items is Madelaine Saia of Diamonds in the Ruff Ruff.
Each of her things are made completely by hand, from carving of wood to sewing of apparel. She has a small studio in NYC, and all of her items are made-to-order. She has no factory, and is driven by her love of dogs, artistic talent and brilliantly creative mind. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the huge pet industry trade show “Super Zoo” back in July of this year in Las Vegas. Her creations were a huge hit, and she’s been busily filling orders ever since!
Madelaine began with pet jewelry, but quickly branched out to luxury pet beds and couture pet apparel. She sources every material personally, and it’s not unusual for her to answer and end a call with “I’m buying buckles in the city, call you later!”.
While her main niche is luxury products, she is in development of more every day apparel items and beds, and I can’t wait to see them! In the meantime, I’d like to shine a small spotlight on some of my favorite Diamonds in the Ruff Ruff Creations.
The “Royal Highness” necklace. It’s almost too stunning to put on a dog, isn’t it?
All of our pet jewelry is made by Madelaine, and can be found on our site at:http://shilohsdogboutique.com/product-category/accessories/pet-jewelry/
I am continually adding items to that category, so if you’re a pet jewelry lover, do not despair. I will have them all added any day now.
Her Couture apparel is amazing to behold, and most people at Super Zoo had to agree.
This is probably the most awesome tutu in the history of tulle.
To see more of her couture clothing:http://shilohsdogboutique.com/product-category/dresses/canine-couture/
Now, onto Madelaine’s favorite, the amazing beds!
I’ve chosen my most favorite as it has to be the most creative, unique and stunning dog bed I’ve ever seen.
Not that I don’t also adore her New York bed.
These are works of art in their own right, and come with everything from matching stools to matching bedding options. She also offers custom orders in case someone wants a different color, larger size, or something designed from scratch. These beds are not cheap, but they sure are fabulous!
We made a separate category for them on the web site, “Luxury Bedroom”.
We support and adore Diamonds in the Ruff Ruff for many of the same reasons as Ruff Ruff Couture (no they’re not related!)
They make every single thing here in the USA, using materials locally sourced.
The people they hire to produce these products-especially these remarkable pet beds, are skilled craftsmen (and women) and as such, are highly valued and much appreciated.
It is the love of dogs, and not the love of high profits and cheap labor which drive these two companies and what their core values and business models are built upon.
I am inspired by them both, and will work hard every day in making our own product line so that hopefully soon, I can unveil my brand and be just as proud of it as I am sure they are of theirs..and for all the same reasons.