Making and Selling Pet Products
If you're creative, you love animals, and you have good business sense, the world of making and selling pet products could be in your future. It's more 'doable' than ever thanks to the Internet, where launching and e-commerce site is a snap.
Your market-pet owners-comprise 63 percent of households, or 71.1 million homes in the U.S. alone, this according to the 2007-2008 American Pet Products Manufacturers Association Inc. (APPMA) National Pet Owners Survey.
In a recent study, the APPMA indicated that total U.S. pet industry expenditures (including medical care, boarding, food, grooming, toys, treats and other products) was $41.2 billion, with growth estimated for future years.
While some retailers offer lines of pet products including leashes, dog collars and pet toys, there are those pet owners who are creative, passionate and manage to carve a nice niche for themselves in what some might consider to be an already-saturated market.
For example, Chilly Dogs, the brain child of Julie Kelly in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (one of the coldest capitals in the world) designs and sells Chilly Wear dog coats that are comparable to human outdoor apparel. They make coats for every season and weather condition - from freezing cold to extreme heat, and they specialize in crafting coats for deep-chested dogs and hard-to-fit breeds such as greyhounds, whippets and Italian greyhounds.
Another niche company, Around the Hounds in Orleans, Ontario, Canada, creates custom martingale and buckle dog collars by design, size, width, hardware and lining color. Owner/designer Char Harding was inspired to start the company while she owned her greyhound, Casey. Soon, what started as a way to deck her hound out in style, as well as help fundraise for dog adoption groups, turned into more than full time work when she branched into the all-canine market.
Lastly, Jack Fleming, president and CEO of Victoria Peak Trading Company in Virginia, creates dog beds in a variety of sizes and two shapes (circular and rectangular), with sturdy denim covers in two colors and several patterns. The beds also feature a two-year limited warranty, and are made to stand up to machine wash/dry on a weekly basis. Fleming got the idea for his version of dog beds in 1996, when he resorted to D-I-Y after buying several disappointing beds for a girlfriend's elderly labrador retriever. What started as a whim grew into a steady business and lots of repeat customers. Fleming has also been able to use profits to fund his other passion - since 1999, Victoria Peak Trading Company has used funds derived from dog bed sales to plant almost 900 indigenous tropical hardwood trees in Belize.
Those are just a few of the happy endings in the pet product manufacturing world, but there are just as many, if not more, products and companies that come and go with little to no profit to be had.
In addition to creativity and a passion for pets, other skills necessary to make it in the pet product manufacturing business include marketing and advertising skills, so you can find clients, business savvy so you can keep your business afloat, good managerial skills if you have employees working under you, and excellent bookkeeping/accounting skills to keep track of the money you'll be making. You'll also need a catchy business name and a business license, and any necessary insurance to protect yourself and your new company. It's likely a good portion of your business will come from the Internet. So you'll need a web address (URL) and website that has e-commerce functionality.
Pet products price points vary according to time and materials involved, and can range from a few dollars to hundreds, depending on the item.