Keeping Pets Moving
David Fine, co-owner of Bark n Bag, discusses how the company caters to consumers' travel needs and fashion sense with its eco-friendly approach to pet carrier design.
Pet Business: How did Bark n Bag get started? What makes the company unique?
David Fine: Bark n Bag was conceived in 2005 as an eco-friendly option in the pet carrier/tote category. The first product on store shelves was the Carrier One. Known for its unique shape and pothole ventilation system, the Carrier One continues to be a top producer. Continuing with eco-friendly trend, the Classic Organic Denim was introduced and became a staple in many pet boutiques.
Our carriers all have eco-friendly properties. The bamboo rafter support system and pesticide-free organic cotton liners are basic features in all of our classic carriers. Our rPET fabrics, made from recycled plastic bottles, completes the three Rs—reduce, reuse and recycle. All Bark n Bag products are Prop-65 compliant, which is not required, but we wanted to be sure all our bags are safe for pets and pet parents.
PB: What are some of Bark n Bag’s premier products? What are some of the key features of these products?
Fine: Bark n Bag’s Outback Messenger Bag has been a top producer in the category for many boutiques. The bag has a unisex design and a strong male clientele. The faux croco and ostrich Monaco Tote was a complete sell out, and the look will be crossing over into other products for both pet and people. The bag looks expensive, yet it is very affordable.
The Jetway wheeled carrier has a unique patent-pending, four-way strap—shoulder, tug, pull and leash.
PB: With so many options in the market, how would you suggest retailers go about building an effective selection of pet carriers?
Fine: Start with a basic, economical carrier in a few sizes—you cannot go wrong with basic black. Build the assortment around the basics, and change the fringe bags often to keep the assortment fresh. A little fashion goes a long way in bringing attention to the category.
PB: What guidance should pet retailers be prepared to offer customers shopping for a pet carrier?
Fine: Pet retailers need to be prepared to size the carrier properly for the customer. The carrier should not have too much room for the pet to move around, just rest comfortably. The pet should be able to stand with its head lowered, enter the carrier, turn and lay down. Often, pet parents go for a size too large, thinking more is better.
The top consumer question is, “Is the carrier airline approved?” All Bark n Bag carriers are airline approved. However, the pet parent still needs to check with the airline on size restrictions of the aircraft.
PB: Tell us about the recent move from California to New Jersey. How will the new location benefit Bark n Bag and its product development?
Fine: Our new home is a recycled 1890s luggage mill. It is a HUBZone incubator space that is primarily used by artist and sculptors. We can take advantage of Mill One’s strong talent pool of young artist for cost-effective fabric design to produce unique economical products.
PB: What does the future hold for the category, and for Bark n Bag?
Fine: The pet carrier category continues to grow as more consumers become empty nesters. Small dogs are increasingly popular with this demographic due to their portability.
Bark n Bag’s product registration has seen a recent boom in cat parents purchasing our products. Throughout 2015, retailers will see more cat friendly products in our line. We have partnered with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to launch a collection of Broadway Barks carriers and totes. The line will be entertainment inspired with actress Bernadette Peters, cofounder of Broadway Barks, at the helm.
In October 2014, we launched our new website, barknbag.com. The site is packed with information, and it is a destination for boutiques and stores to looking for information for their customers.