Designed With Love
With a passion for pets and great design, P.L.A.Y. offers beds, toys and accessories that both animals and owners can feel good about.
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) grew out of love for a little pug named Momo. In late 2010, Will and Deb Chen first brought home their bundle of fur and, like many new pet parents, were excited to start buying all of the pet necessities—toys, food bowls and, of course, a dog bed.
Their shopping experience, though, was disappointing to say the least. While there were plenty of options on the shelves, none were the right balance of quality, comfort and design. None were good enough for Momo.
But instead of just settling for what was available, “They decided to start from scratch and create their own idea of what a perfect pet bed should be and, just like that, P.L.A.Y. was born,” explains Natalie Hennessy, marketing manager for the San Francisco-based luxury pet bed company.
Understanding that pets are just like members of the family, their first step was crucial: finding the right manufacturer who could give them the assurance and confidence to know that their beds would be offered to loving pet owners with high standards of safety and quality. So, they recruited a major manufacturer of infant and child products with more than 20 years of experience to help bring their vision to life.
The second area of focus was comfort. While ergonomics may sound more appropriate for office chairs, for people as passionate about pets as the Chens, it was a no-brainer to create beds that provide the maximum amount of support.
“There are two key factors that make our beds ergonomically supportive for pets: the quality of stuffing and the amount of stuffing in each bed,” says Hennessy.
“Our stuffing is made to last and remain intact over multiple wash cycles, so pet parents don’t have to worry about their beds getting lumpy over time. [The beds] are also optimally stuffed to ensure pets get a great night’s sleep while easing the stress on their joints.”
As a flat-faced dog, Momo is more susceptible to allergies and breathing issues, so the Chens chose breathable, hypoallergenic cottons or upholstery-grade fabrics. This prevents furry friends like Momo from getting overheated or having an allergic reaction. These easy-to-remove covers are also extremely durable and machine washable, making them convenient for today’s busy pet parents.
Another element that helps P.L.A.Y. pet beds stand out in an oversaturated market is the company’s commitment to environmentally friendly products and processes. From the very beginning of the design process, the Chens wanted products that they could feel good about, says Hennessy. That is why every P.L.A.Y. bed is filled with PlanetFill polyfiber stuffing made from 100 percent post-consumer, certified-safe, recycled plastic bottles. An extra-large Lounge Bed, for example, saves 108 plastic bottles from being dumped into a landfill.
“So, while pets enjoy the comforts of our eco-friendly stuffing, pet parents can feel the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped keep our planet a little cleaner,” says Hennessy. Plus, the beds are deliberately designed to withstand years of scratching, rolling, snuggling and washing instead of ending up in a landfill after just a few months of use, thus further reducing their environmental impact.
As pet owners, the Chens also know that safety is a chief concern among pet parents. That is why every P.L.A.Y. product, from beds to toys and accessories, is meticulously tested to the highest standards in the industry.
“For example, our popular Chill Pads and Snuggle Beds are OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, which is one of the highest standards available in the textile industry,” explains Hennessy. “It means that every component of the product was tested for over 100 harmful substances. We are talking about applying the same standards used in the baby and children industry to our products.”
Finally, in designing the first P.L.A.Y. bed, the Chens wanted a product that not only was functional, but also featured beautiful designs that fit in with modern pet parents’ lifestyles and home décor.
“At P.L.A.Y., when we look for new fabrics, we try to look for unique and tasteful patterns and textures that integrate well into any living space,” says Hennessy. “When we can’t find it, we create it with the help of local artists in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.”
P.L.A.Y.’s signature Artist Collection luxury beds feature unique designs by local artists like David Collins, Alicia Pompei and Natalia Martinez. Unlike other pet bedding products on the market, which typically utilize repeating patterns, these designs are individually sketched, comped and produced. These designs range from classic cameos and chandelier images to whimsical poodles and pugs in high heels and boots. Every design is painstakingly created with modern pet parents in mind, says Hennessy.
“We are product and customer focused, which is the drive behind everything we do,” she adds. “Our bed styles and designs suit a variety of styles, from modern to vintage, as well as meet the needs of different climates.”
Since creating their first beds with Momo in mind, the Chens have found success with like-minded pet owners who value thoughtful design and also treat their four-legged companions as members of the family. “Getting good value for product is important, but [our customers] are not simply shopping for the lowest cost product,” says Hennessy. “[They are] consumers who care about design, quality and being environmentally and socially conscious. And we do see a high percentage of repeat customers, so that is encouraging.”
Given the profile of its target customers, P.L.A.Y.’s products are a natural fit for specialty boutiques and small to medium-sized higher-end chain retailers looking to differentiate themselves from big box stores.
Feedback from retail customers is a key part of the company’s approach as it strives to grow and change along with the rest of the pet industry. “We try to build long-term, meaningful relationships with our retail partners and listen to their needs in order to help their stores stand out,” says Hennessy. “We also look for opportunities to collaborate with our retailers or do cross marketing to help promote local businesses to our fans.”
Another unique aspect of P.L.A.Y.’s business model is the company’s dedication to giving back. “We are all pet lovers and always want to do more to help animals and shelters in need,” explains Hennessy.
Through its Warm Bellies Initiative, P.L.AY.—in partnership with Petfinder Foundation—helps give animals a warm place to sleep by donating cozy mats to deserving shelters. Proceeds from toy sales also provide support to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which works to protect wildlife habitats and assist at-risk animals.
Over the past six years, the company has expanded its offerings beyond pet bedding to include whimsical plush toys, interactive/enrichment toys and even products for humans.
“When people think of P.L.A.Y., the first things to come to mind are dog beds and toys, but we have so much more to offer,” says Hennessy. “I know sometimes we can be biased about dogs, but we are applying the same love and innovation to making cat products, too.”
Most recently, P.L.A.Y. has added the “Scout and About” collection of outdoor and travel accessories to their lineup. The product line is perfect for on-the-go pet parents, featuring a variety of fun and stylish rope toys, training pouches, travel bowls, pet tents and outdoor mats and beds.
As P.L.A.Y. continues to grow and increase their offerings, one thing that will never change is its passion for innovative design, quality products and, of course, pets, says Hennessy.
“Being a small, privately-owned family business allows us to stay true to our values and not compromise for short-term gains,” she says. “Our hope is that in the five years when consumers are shopping for the best pet beds, toys and accessories they will ask for P.L.A.Y. by name when they visit their local pet stores.”