Grand Designs
Gretchen George, president of PetRageous Designs, discusses how her company is bringing fun, fashion and function to a wide range of pet product categories.

Pet Business: When it was founded, PetRageous Designs focused solely on producing pet bowls that combined both fashion and function. However, in recent years, the company has greatly expanded its offerings to include items such as pet toys and even apparel. What drove this decision to expand your offerings?

Gretchen George:
When PetRageous Designs was founded in February 2004, we did begin as a stoneware pet bowl company because ceramics was what I knew best. I had been a buyer for 20-plus years for department stores, and catalogers, and dinnerware and ceramics, were my area of expertise.

As the stoneware pet bowl business grew, we decided we wanted to be the bowl center for our customers so we expanded into plastics, MelaWare, stainless steel bowls and raised pet diners of all kinds. Then, as our company continued to grow and we were known for design, we transferred a lot of our ideas onto pet clothing, toys, etc. We like to put the “Rageous” in everything we do. We want to be a complete source for retailers.

PB: What is your approach to designing and manufacturing pet toys and pet apparel? What separates PetRageous toys and apparel from the competition?

Pet apparel was a project that one of our major customers asked me to explore after finding out I was a textile and clothing major in college. It had been years since I had been in the clothing business, but I hired a designer who could drape patterns on dogs and away we went.

We understand that dogs must be comfortable and that the clothing has to be easy to care for, as well as put on and take off. We spend a lot of time looking for the right fabrics, colors, linings, trims, closures, etc. Our line of pet clothing is fashionable, functional and affordable.

PB: What advice would you give to pet stores that want to increase their business in the pet toys and apparel categories? Are there any common mistakes that retailers make in these segments?

Again, with pet toys, you have to keep your selection fun and fresh. New fabrics, new designs, colors, etc., are all key in this category. Price is extremely important as well.

We divide pet clothing into two categories: the functional and the fashionable. On the functional side, we put all the bells and whistles into this part of the business, and the pet—and the customer—loves us in the cold and wind, as well as for comfort and fit. The other side of the business is the fashion side, which we do primarily in dresses, T-shirts and pajamas.

The fashion part is trendy, fun, and just for the smaller dogs. In clothing, it is important that the retailer (especially for winter) represents a good selection of coats, vests, sweaters, hoodies, PJs, and some fancy dresses. They must represent the size range appropriate for a store’s particular customer base. Color selection is key as well. And then the presentation is key—use any ladies boutique as a guide to show wonderful displays. Dog mannequins help as well.

PB: How has your selection of pet bowls evolved over the years?

Our bowl category is fashion, fun, function, and the forever basics. We stay on the pulse of fashion with our pet bowls and all of the animals-skin prints are doing great. We do well with the latest trends and colors in home décor, and most of the kids’ fashion colors translate onto bowls as well. Stainless, plastics, and our neutral paw and bone motifs are our forever basics.

PB: What does the future hold for PetRageous Designs?

We will continue to introduce fashion in all categories—bowls, clothing, toys, feeders, placemats and even poop bags. New introductions that have been tested with key accounts include crate pads and a lot more new clothing. Hopefully, retailers will continue to recognize that we do our very best to keep assortments fresh, fun, and functional to make both the owner and the pet happy.