July 25, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

Jennifer Wong and Santos Agustin Gone to the Dogs

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Gone to the Dogs is a dog accessories company, which was founded to address a number of social and environmental focal points, including:
Providing opportunities to women across the globe to further the mission of women earning an independent income by working with female vendors across continents
Donating a percentage of the company’s profits to local animal shelters, bringing the mission back to the products’ purpose: supporting healthy and happy animals
“Reduce, reuse, recycle” – upcycled, reclaimed, or renewable materials take plastics and other items out of landfills and give them a second life, all the while providing a safer alternative to the chemicals that exist in traditional dog toys

Each of our products is not only handmade but also sourced from recycled, reclaimed or renewable materials, and natural fibers. We’re taking back what’s en route to the landfill, utilizing compostable materials, and prolonging the life of fibers. We’re proud to bring back and promote the motto, “reduce, reuse, recycle!”

Our greatest Gone to the Dogs muses are our rescue dogs, Miles and Ollie. We love them from the depths of our hearts and believe that all pets deserve to be a part of a happy home. A portion of our proceeds goes to animal shelters truly making a difference in giving every pet a happy home.

To sum it all up, Gone to the Dogs is a social enterprise dedicated to reimagining thoughtfully designed and ethically sourced goods hand-crafted by inspiring makers locally and globally. We invite you to join our community, read up on our efforts supporting artisan groups in marginalized communities, environmental sustainability, and animal shelters. and help us do some good.

Describe the process of launching the business.

We don’t want just anyone producing our product. As a women-owned business, we partner with a diverse group of women, who share at least one commonality – the lack of opportunity to harness an independent income. We collaborate with makers from low-income and immigrant communities in the local NYC area, as well as marginalized communities in the Global South.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

As long-time pet parents, we’ve come across all kinds of products for our beloved fur family members. The problem is we often don’t know how the products are made or who made them. Are they mass-produced in a sweatshop factory environment? How are the workers treated? Are they paid a living wage? What do the companies do with their industrial waste? Shopping for well-made and kind-to-the-earth pet goods can be a bleak affair.

As creators, we set out to counter the lack of transparency and responsibility found in the process of producing pet goods. We created Gone to the Dogs, an ethical platform from which we can share the best of our ideas and our collaborations with talented makers and artisans.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Jennifer Wong and Santos Agustin have been in business for a few years, and are proud to announce the grand opening of their retail location in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The event will be taking place on October 22nd, in just a few weeks.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Here’s a few favorite moments that we’re nerding out over:
10) Our first pop-up ever at Greenpoint Terminal Market 💕💕
9) Our very first in-house prototype of our Pepian Bowtie
8) Our first mention from @dogmomsofnyc 🙏🙏
7) Launching our e-commerce site by putting together our very first virtual event- GTTD’s Fashion Show. 🙏 💕 to everyone that helped make this happen!
6) & 5) being awarded full scholarships to extended study programs; Santos for Women’s Entrepreneurship from Cornell University and Jenn for Digital Marketing from Brainstation.io 👏👏
4) Being featured in our first Gift Guide ever via wearewomenowned.com
8) Our first sold out product – Winky Oni 🍙 was just irresistible. We’re just happy that you 💕 them 🥰🥰
9) Our first grant from LISC NYC couldn’t have come at a better time. 🙏🙏 Thank you for the support during Covid and for supporting small businesses!
10) Making the news – 🙏 💕 Pix 11 for the quick clip and supporting local makers and small businesses. Click below for full clip!

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Shopify, social media, public relations

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Most influential books:
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Cline
What I talk About When I Talk About Running by Murakami
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Cain
Middle Kingdom by Adrienne Su

Harvard Business Review’s Women At Work
Freakonomics Radio
NPR’s How I Built This
Bruce Lee Podcast by Shannon Lee

Other resources:

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Advice for entrepreneurs starting out: Understand that even with all your due diligence, you may not ever feel 100% ready as a startup. If you’re willing to make it work no matter what, the hard work will pay off.

Where can we go to learn more?