We would like to introduce you to Lauren, our local Artist and owner of All Dog Kind. She and her fur-family, Jack (14), Sophie (12) and Gus (2), live in Seattle. Her artistry features dog sketches and handmade dog accessories. Part of All Dog Kind’s mission includes supporting animal rescues, giving 20% of profits to local shelters an animal non-profits on a quarterly basis. Visit the AllDogKind Etsy shop to check out each of the furry pups in Lauren’s collection and to find all her handmade dog accessories. Follow their Instagram and Facebook pages (@alldogkind) to stay tuned on the exciting adventures of Lauren, her pup and to watch her business grow!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me and share your story with our Puddles Barkery friends. My first question, how did you meet each of the All Dog Kind dogs?
I like this question because, in a lot of ways, it gets to the origin story of All Dog Kind. When you look at our Etsy shop or if you browse through my booth at an event, you’re going to see all the dogs that I know very well. I know all of their names; their little personality quirks. I met them through dog walking, through my family and friends and, of course, three are my own - Jack, Sophie and Gus. This is what makes these [dog] portraits special. It’s the reason they are being featured. Each of the dog pins and stickers have become little good-luck charms, since they represent the dogs in my life. At least that is what I hope people are getting from them. A lot of pet owners see their dogs in these portraits as well.
To continue this question, how did you meet Jack, Sophie and Gus specifically?
Jack I found when I was in college and when I had no business in adopting a dog. One weekend, my parents were in town and we visited our usual sandwich shop. Next door to the shop, there was a Petco or Petsmart that was having an adoption event in front of the store.
After we finished lunch, we walked by the adoption event and I saw Jack. He was in a kennel; he was very sad looking and so skinny, so I asked about him. I asked if I could try and walk him and they said, “You know, I’m sorry, he’s been through a lot. He’s probably not going to walk on a leash with you.” But he did. I just knew that he was my dog. What was really surprising was that my parents were okay with this. <laughter> But in hindsight, my dad has explained that, of course he wanted his daughter who went off to college to have a large dog with her. I have had Jack for 12 years and he is 14 years old now.
A year and some change later, my best friend found Sophie by a dumpster in a college apartment complex area. He called me in a panic because he had no idea what to do with that tiny puppy. She was so small that her butt fit in the palm of my hand; and she was really cute. We took her to the vet with the intentions of getting her checked out and then being responsible and sending her to a good animal rescue to find her a home. But is was too late, I had fallen in love with her. And then I was in college with TWO dogs. It was just two dogs for a very long time.
About 10 months ago, my husband, Justin, and I were visiting the new Seattle Humane building that is two doors down from his workplace in Bellevue. I went there with the intention of taking some pictures of the dogs that need homes. I thought I'd draw them and then post them on social media to practice drawing and help these dogs get exposure. The last dog that we saw in the large dog run was Gus. I think the words, “Oh crap” came out of my mouth when I saw him. It was like I just knew; in a subconscious way that you don’t fully understand or become aware of until you’re telling the story afterwards. While, in general, people have no business having three dogs in a city, we are really happy and we make it work for us. I’m also really glad because Jack is 14 and Gus is so young, I hope Jack can rub off on Gus a little bit.
What inspired you to turn your dog drawings into a business?
I was at this point in my life where I had been working remotely for a while. This ended up being a good transition. I realized that is was time for me to shift careers and find a new job. So I decided to hit pause, quit my job, and take a year sabbatical to figure things out. The grand plan was to simply take time to enjoy my family and friends - a rare opportunity. I had been dog walking during my lunch breaks while I was working remotely, so once I quit my job I ramped that up just to stay busy and be productive. I started getting to know all of these dogs and, in a lot of ways, becoming friends with them. As far back as I can remember, I had always been - I think “doodling” is the right word. It started with our family dog of 18 years, a mini schnauzer. Then I started doodling Jack and Sophie. I would use these doodles to sign greeting cards and these two things [dog walking and doodling] sort of bumped into each other. I drew my family's dog and my dogs because I knew them so well and it was fun to capture them in this way. Bonding with these other dogs, it seemed natural to want to draw these new dog friends that I was making. Pretty soon I scraped something together with the intention of it being a fun project. I made an Etsy store. Then one day I thought to myself, “if I’m really going to do this, I just need to do it for real." The next day, I filed the LLC paperwork. It’s been a big transition from my previous career, but in the best way possible. There are a lot of things I want to grow and improve, but I’m also really excited to see my passion project continue to grow and become what it is meant to be.
What is your “dream big” vision for your company?
The company started unofficially back in November (2017) and it officially became a business in June (2018). In a lot of ways I feel like I’m still just getting started; but my core mission is to create things I love for other people and their dogs to enjoy. It may take many forms in the future, but if I’m loving what I’m making and I’m proud of it, then that's a win. Creating and selling these products and goods with the intention to bring and create joy.
The other crucial puzzle piece is that I’m donating 20% of the profits to animal rescues and animal non-profits. I feel like that is such a motivator for me to grow, because the more I improve and grow, the bigger of an impact and the more good that can come as a consequence of this business. If I have to choose a concrete manifestation of growth, it would be wonderful for the items from my Etsy store to be featured in local pet supply stores. We are fortunate that there are so many pet supply stores around here that want to create and do good and also focus on funding and sponsoring animal rescues. In the meantime, it’s been a lot of fun to take these products to events and interact with people. It’s been the best way to receive feedback and to make sure people know about the work that I’m doing.
What are your current products and your short-term goals for your company?
I just launched a Dog Party Kit. It’s intended to include everything you need to celebrate a dog in your life. You can customize the party size: it could be for just your dog, to take wonderful photos of them celebrating, or you can invite dogs and people friends over and have a larger party. The Kit includes a handmade, custom-sized party bandana and crown for the honorary dog of the party. It’s been fun to make and have my dogs test these crowns. One of my focuses for these crowns or hats is that they are comfortable and that the dog doesn’t hate wearing it. The crown is made out of felt, so it can get squished and the dog can shake its head and it doesn’t fall apart. The party guests get a gift bag that includes a dog party hat, sticker sheets and a pin to wear, and a tassel garland that makes a pretty backdrop for dog party photos.
The foundation of this business was built on the Custom Portrait Pack. The customer sends me some photos of their dog and I draft a portrait of the pup. When you’re happy with the portrait, I turn the portrait into a lapel pin, a pack of 5 vinyl stickers, and the portrait is matted and framed. This is a lot of fun because it goes back to the original focus of trying to capture the personality of someone’s pet. I would say the majority of the people purchasing the portrait package are using it as a gift. A lot of customers have said “I don’t know what to get this person, but I know that they love their dog and this is wonderful."
I make the bandanas by hand and the pins and stickers are made from the portraits of my dog friends.
For my short-term goals, I have Mini Kits coming out for Halloween and the holidays. With any luck, I’ll be able to pull off a Thanksgiving one this year. They include a dog hat - made out of felt that can be squished, etc. - and stickers to keep the kit at a lower price point so someone can splurge for the holidays. <Definitely, because everyone wants to share a fun picture of their dog dressed up for the holidays.> For the Thanksgiving version, I envision a pumpkin pie hat. Seeing pictures of dogs wearing a slice of pumpkin pie on their heads sounds wonderful.
How do you choose which pups will be a permanent part of your collection?
I really like this question, because nobody has asked this before. I have 16-18 dogs currently in my permanent collection. It’s important to me that I know those dogs, their story and their personality. I don’t just want to have a dog in my collection because it’s a certain breed or it’s adorable - which many of them are. I want them to be a representation of my dog friends; I care about these dogs and, like I said before, if you buy this pin or sticker it’s like a little good luck charm that you take out into the world. Then the customers can share how they contributed to the animal rescues as well.
Kora is going to be the newest inductee to the permanent collection. I know Kora; I feel like we are friends now. We have been to a lot of events together. I know her personality, she’s a part of my life and it feels very natural. My intention is that all of these dogs are my friends and a part of my life and I want to share them with the world.
What has been your best experience and most challenging experience you have encountered since you created this business?
The best experience is the feedback that I’ve been receiving at the events. It is so vulnerable to love and create something and then put it out into the world for people to assess and judge. It feels like you are putting a part of yourself out there. To have people be warm, positive, welcoming and even excited about what I’m doing has been amazing.
The most difficult and challenging, I think anyone who has ever started a small business can relate to the fact that you have to wear every hat. <laughs> The magical perception of what I do is that I just doodle dogs all day. When really: I walk dogs to bring in money for my family; I have to make sure all the legal and tax stuff is correct; Monitor the finances; be a social media marketer. Even though it’s a lot, it’s also meant that I’ve needed to grab skills from my previous career and apply them.And I need to learn new skills on the fly.
These were all the questions that I had; are there any questions you would like to answer about you or your business? Or any thoughts you’d like to share about your venture?
One anecdote that I didn’t mention yet: I remember just getting started at in the dog business world and I met Marika [with Dirtie Dog Photography, a Seattle pet photographer] and then, I’m so grateful that she introduced me to you, and having this realization that there were all these other women out there that were making it happen, making it work, following their dreams and being bad asses. <laughter> It was so encouraging and so wonderful to see both of you years into your businesses. And to have you guys be so welcoming. Whenever you’re new at something, you’re going to meet the good and the bad in that field. You’re going to meet the people who don’t want to share and don’t want to encourage. When you’re really lucky you find people that are willing to do those things. I feel like I have been really lucky. [This community] has made me feel like, yeah, I am doing the right thing. I found good people; I’m very happy. All of these seem to be signs to keep going. I think that it is special that in this field that you and I are in [pet businesses], that there are so many women killing it. That’s been a big change from my previous career [chemical engineering] to now, and one that I have really enjoyed.