Saltsox CEO Cindy Magiera, explains how her company’s innovative dog booties comfortably shield pets from the harsh elements.
Tell us about Saltsox. How did the company get started? What types of products do you offer? Saltsox was created by a need from our own two dogs back in the winter of 2011. We had just moved back to Chicago after living out west. This was a big shift in lifestyle for our dogs, who went from going outside leashless via a sliding door into the yard to getting leashed, taking an elevator and being walked on heavily salted sidewalks four times a day.
They did not fare well, and that first winter they actually ended up getting sick. After several trips to the vet, we finally discovered they were licking their paws after each walk to get the salt off. My husband had read an article on what the mushers used for their sled dogs during the Iditarod race up in Alaska to protect their paws from ice, snow, frostbite and coarse surfaces, so we decided to fashion a set of booties for our dogs based on that info.
Our neighbors in the building saw our dogs in these homemade booties and asked if we could make some for their dogs. Then, other random people in the neighborhood would stop us on walks and ask where we got our booties, and on it went—there was a definite need! In winter 2012, I decided to field test some sets on more dogs in our neighborhood, and we continued to tweak and improve the design over the next two years. Finally, after three years of field testing in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, Saltsox debuted at a local “made in Chicago” show called HoliDose. The show was promoted as featuring the best of the best in Chicago, and I was honored to be able to debut there!
What make Saltsox protective boots different than similar products on the market? Our thin sole design allows dogs to feel the surface below their paws, just as they would naturally. The anatomical design makes for a super-comfortable boot that moves with the paw and leg in a natural manner. The Stretch Velcro closure system ensures the booties stay on and remain comfortable without cutting off blood flow. Keeping our booties lightweight and flexible is central to our design philosophy, and it works. One other key point is that our products are made in the USA.
Since launching Saltsox to protect pets’ paws from the harsh winter elements, you’ve also introduced Lavasox for protection against hot surfaces in the summer. How do these two product lines differ? Like Saltsox, Lavasox were born out of a need.
The only thing the two products have in common is the pattern design and closure system. The materials used in Lavasox are breathable and lightweight, and they contain a heat reflective material underneath the sole to withstand hot pavement. It makes the boot great for indoor, as well as outdoor, use.
Saltsox are made of a laminated soft-shell fleece that keeps the paw weatherproofed on the outside, and the fleece on the inside is like wearing a warm fuzzy slipper. They are not meant for indoor use.
Aside from offering high-quality products, how does Saltsox help retailers drive business? Print media and social media are key! Whenever we can get print or air time about the need for paw protection, we are on it. Raising the awareness of this issue is so very important because it protects all the fur babies. Brand ambassadors are a must. We also participate in several shelter and rescue fundraisers. Oh, and of course Google Ads!
What types of sales and marketing support do you provide pet stores? We support our brick-and-mortar stores 100 percent. We wouldn’t be here without them! We are all a team!
We provide every store with our “fit kit,” which consists of one bootie in each of our sizes (xs/s/m/l/xl) and a laminated size chart, so customers can try our boots on inside the store for proper fit. Nobody wants to get home or be on a walk and find out the boots don’t fit—that’s a nightmare for the retailer and for the customer. I think it gives booties a bad reputation, in general, when that happens. So, we solved it for our brands.
We also offer POP displays designed for small spaces. We want our products to stand out, but we want to be respectful of shelf space limitations.
We provide as much info on key selling points as we can for staffs. All of our retailers are given access to our media library, so they can easily download and create mailers/flyers/email promos etc. All of our images are professionally shot, hi-resolution and retouched.
We have a couple of YouTube videos out there, as well, and we have some exciting social/print media planned for this winter season that I hope will help all of our stores! PB