Pet Business: What is the BooBooLoon collar? What benefits does it offer over a traditional Elizabethan collar?
Marcy Colangelo: The BooBooLoon is an inflatable pet recovery collar. The unique feature of the product is that although it is an inflatable, you only half inflate it. By half inflating it, you get a pillow effect for the pet. It’s fully adjustable on its own, so it doesn’t need to be threaded into the dog’s street collar, like Elizabethan cones and other premium recovery collars do. And let’s face it, nobody likes putting a cone on their pet, even if it’s a soft one.
There are other inflatable premium recovery collars out there, but they are donut shaped and hard, because they’re fully inflated. Ours is a very different concept. The BooBooLoon goes out from the neck radially and extends past the shoulder, giving the pet more coverage. The reason we’re able to extend out this way is because we use a center I-beam that holds the collar’s two inflatable rings together. It allows us to make the BooBooLoon in a variety of sizes. We currently offer five sizes, but we know that we can do a lot more in the future.
PB: The BooBooLoon is a product that was originally sold through the veterinary channel. What made you decide to expand into pet stores?
Colangelo: We still sell to the veterinary channel through our distributor Butler Schein Animal Health, but we wanted to make it more convenient for pet owners to buy the BooBooLoon, because most people who need a recovery collar for their pet, need it immediately. We also want pet owners whose vets don’t stock the BooBooLoon to have more options when it comes to the recovery collar they use on their pets.
PB: What inspired you to create the BooBooLoon collar?
Colangelo: I had a boxer, Mitzi, who turned out to be the love of my life. I’ve had dogs all my life, but there was something different about this one—we had a real connection. Very early on, when she was just three or four years old, she started getting these cancerous tumors [a problem that turned out to be ongoing]. I tried every type of recovery collar on her, and nothing worked. So, I sort of rigged a squishy airline pillow, and that’s what I would use on her when she would go in for surgery. One of the vets who saw what I had put together said it was a good idea, and another said, “That’s a business.”
It took me about a year of making prototypes to figure out what I wanted to do. We tried all different kinds of things, and then we came up with the I-beam approach—that was when the light bulb went on. From there, it was very easy to just mathematically go up or down from Mitzi’s size.
PB: What advice can you offer pet stores to help them be successful in selling recovery products like BooBooLoon collars?
Colangelo: The first thing I would tell them is to keep an open mind, even if they’ve been burned in the past by other inflatable recovery collars. I would also tell them that they need to have some product education about the BooBooLoon—this is not like anything that’s ever been done before. Our biggest hurdle has been in teaching consumers how to use the product properly and not inflate it too much. The store manager and staff can be invaluable in this regard.