Connect with us

This Indiana Store Offers DIY Design of Dog Collars and Leashes

Competing in dog sports inspired the owner to offer custom products made from BioThane.

mm

Published

on

IMAGINE BEING ABLE to offer customization of collars and leashes — from lengths and widths to materials and embellishments — at an affordable price. Samantha Youngblood does exactly that at Youngblood Natural Animal Care Center & Massage in Greenfield, IN. Dog sports inspired this profitable area of her business.

THE IDEA

“I compete in a lot of dog sports,” Youngblood says. “And dog sports people are obsessed with collars.”

Collars and leashes color coordinate with competitor themes, like that of her flyball partner Berserk: mermaids. The Bostie wears blue, pink and purple.

Youngblood had already been carrying dog sport-friendly leashes made from BioThane, a nylon webbing with PVC coating that makes it more durable, waterproof and easy to clean. Fellow competitors who shopped at her store began asking for collars, too.

In 2017, she partnered with a local artisan to make them.

“I started doing plain collars, and then they were like, can you do sparkles, can you do jewels, can you do 2 inches, can you do 3/4 inch? It blossomed from there.”

Soon, pet parents outside of the dog sports community began placing custom orders.

Youngblood collars

THE EXECUTION

Customers can begin the design process at the store, which stocks a small inventory for inspiration or purchase. More examples are in a photo book there, while online shoppers can look at photos on Facebook.

Youngblood will then go over the various options and discuss their suitability.

If “they have a Yorkie, maybe a 2-inch collar is not going to be great,” she explains, adding that her recommendations vary by intended wear as well. Dog sports competitors bring on the bling for shows, but like pet parents choose more simple collars for everyday wear.

From there, Youngblood says it’s all about “making their vision come to life.” She then fills out an order form, referencing designs in the book and noting customization. Completed items typically arrive at the store within five business days, for pickup or shipping.

THE RESULTS

Youngblood sells 30 to 50 custom collars and leashes a month, the latter during peak dog sport and the holiday seasons. Two main factors drive the steady sales: BioThane and customization.

BioThane looks and feels like leather but at a more modest cost, allowing her to offer high-quality, custom-made products at a much lower price. Even with a 70 percent markup, her most expensive collar to date retailed for $80, and “it had 150 jewels on it.” Most collars run $30 to $45, with leashes at $10 to $12.

Meanwhile, affordable customization encourages repeat orders, especially from dog sports competitors who like to regularly refresh their dog’s gear.

Do It Yourself: 5 Steps to Custom Collars

  • LOCATE AN ARTISAN. Youngblood found hers through a local groomer who uses his loops and leashes. Hiring local reduces turnaround time and saves on shipping.
  • START SMALL. Keep 10 or so collar and leash examples on hand to guide customers through the design process.
  • CREATE YOUR PHOTO BOOK. Photograph your examples, then shoot every collar and leash you customize. Print, laminate, hole-punch and put photos in a binder. Send copies to your artisan for reference with orders.
  • SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Post photos on your store’s channels with contact info for ordering.
  • GET SPORTY. Find the dog sport organizations and facilities in your area to discuss cross-promotional efforts and vendor opportunities.

To learn more about how Youngblood offers custom collars and leashes at her store, watch the interview!

Pamela Mitchell is the Editor-in-Chief of PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Ty the Boston Terrier as her assistant.

Most Popular