Meet the Maker is a new blog series on The Dapple featuring Q&As with small businesses, creatives, and makers who are crafting unique products for dogs and dog lovers.
After years of dressing the dogs in cheap raincoats that often got twisted or ripped, I stumbled upon a coat that stood out from the others in its quality and craftsmanship—the Rainy Day Raincoat from Ellie Dog Wear. It’s hands-down the best raincoat our dogs have had, and I’m so excited to be interviewing its designer and the co-owner of Ellie Dog Wear on The Dapple today. We talked with Alan Huang about how he grew his company from a Kickstarter into a successful pet brand.
In one sentence, how would you describe Ellie Dog Wear?
A high-quality dog clothing store specializing in combining the best of outerwear style and functionality.
Tell us about your journey to launch Ellie Dog Wear—you began as a Kickstarter, correct?
Yes, that’s correct! We launched our Kickstarter campaign on October 1, 2016 with a goal of raising enough capital to purchase inventory for our online store. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter failed, but we didn’t give up and still believed in our brand. Over the course of a few months, we saved enough to purchase our first round of inventory and officially opened our store on Amazon in February 2017.
What was the most challenging part of starting your own business?
It would definitely be the beginning when both my co-owner and I had absolutely zero experience in starting a business. We didn’t have a mentor or know anyone who could give us any advice, so we took it upon ourselves to learn everything from start to finish. Most notably the marketing and exposure was the most challenging because we didn’t know how to market, which is the reason we failed our Kickstarter in the first place. After some time and a few classes, we’ve learned enough to get our store some more exposure and it’s been circulating ever since.
How did your own professional background prepare you to launch Ellie Dog Wear?
Attending a business school definitely helped manage our expectations, however, starting a new company is always difficult. The growing pains of ideation and turning that into a product are all too real. At the end of the day, grit, tenacity, and our love for both the product and the industry pushed us to the finish line. We definitely couldn’t have done it without the support of our friends and our community.
Let’s talk about your adorable dog raincoats; it seems like they’re everywhere right now. How did you come up with the concept for them?
Hmm, the raincoat actually started from a design I sketched for me to personally wear. I’m sure everyone has pulled something off the rack and thought that if only the fit was more tapered, or the seams were done differently, or the lining of the coat had some texture, it would be the perfect coat. That’s what I was trying to do; I wanted to create my perfect coat.
Several days later, while strolling the aisles of a local pet store, I came across the apparel section and noticed that nothing caught my eye. At that moment, I realized that the sketches I’d been working on for my coat could be changed and tweaked into a dog raincoat. The rest is history.
What’s your favorite item in your shop?
We really like the raincoats as well because the design is just perfect for what a raincoat should be as far as being functional and stylish. From the buttons, to the pockets, and drawstrings, it’s the little details on the raincoat that makes it stand out from the other raincoats that are currently out on the market.
Any exciting upcoming plans for Ellie Dog Wear?
Yes, we’re always trying to find new designs as well as making new colors available for our existing products.
In the month of November we’ll be adding a new red color with black lining to the raincoat collection as well as an XXL size for the yellow raincoat. We also have a vest that we’re currently working on that we plan to launch early next year.
What has been the most rewarding part of running your own business?
The kind emails and adorable pictures sent to us by our customers fuels us daily. We are truly humbled by the enormous support the community has given us. To be able to be a small part of your canine household is really something.