Lake Cowichan entrepreneur Lee-Ann Burke hopes to see a boost in business thanks to her products being featured on the cover of the June/July issue of a national pet magazine.
Burke runs Threads N Tails, a pet clothing company.
“The opportunity to be featured on the cover of a national magazine is very impressive to me and I really hope that it helps me to reach even more pet parents who want that perfectly fitting, functional and fashionable piece of dog clothing,” Burke said. “I am so proud of Frank and his mom for their lovely feature.”
Frank the dog was the cover model of the Pet Connection magazine edition. The pooch was reaching the summit at Powderface Ridge in Alberta while sporting an outfit made by Burke’s company.
Initially Burke just wanted to keep her own dog warm.
“I started altering my old clothing for my newest rescue dog that had bad allergies and little fur about four years ago to cover her bare skin,” Burke explained. “I could never find dog clothing that fit her big chest well, I decided I should try to make her something from scratch. I had been making simple fleece horse blanket type things for both of my dogs and was feeling motivated so I made my first onesies.”
The first one took her about eight hours and she wanted to give up. She didn’t.
“I managed to finish it and decided I should make a version with no back legs and it would look like a human hoodie,” she said. “I examined all of the dog clothing I already had, knew which parts that I liked and disliked from each, and started creating from there.”
The experience, and a nudge from some supportive friends, prompted Burke to open an Etsy shop in January of 2018.
She started selling her fleece cozies and onesies and built it up from there to include water resistant onesies.
“Living in the Pacific Northwest I wanted something a bit more rugged and weather-appropriate and managed to find a good source for some great water resistant, fleece lined fabric,” Burke said.
That’s when sales really started to grow.
“People needed the extra head and leg coverage that my items provided,” she explained. “Lots of clients who come to my shop have had a hard time fitting their dog with the generic small, medium and large dog sizes offered by other dog coat companies and appreciate that my items are made to measure.”
It took just a year after launching on Etsy for Burke to create her own website. She knew that she could tailor the buying experience better for her customers while making it more efficient for herself as well.
“That was a game changer,” she said. “I could now ask for all the measurements, photos and other information that I needed much easier.”
As her online presence grew, so too did her product line. The next product was sun protective gear for dogs.
“I was made aware of the horrible effects that the sun can have on our pets and I was never the type to want to put chemicals on my pet,” she said. “I found a source for UPF 50+ fabric and made onesies and cozies from those in order to provide maximum sun protection without having to apply sunscreen. Having a dog with very thin fur, I knew these would be a success for those of us who have a bigger need to protect our pet from the sun.”
The requests for new products just kept coming.
Next was Towelies.
“A customer approached me and asked if I could create something to help dry her dog after dock diving. I wanted to provide a lot of coverage and bit of warmth while the dog was waiting for the next jump and I’ve been told I nailed it.”
After that it was Spikiez.
That one came about due to a customer request “because who doesn’t want their dog or cat to look like a dinosaur and be nice and cozy?” Burke said.
There’s more expansion in store, including a move to a shop and the addition of an employee.
For now, visit www.threadzntails.com to learn more.