Our Favorite Things – Dog Love Repeat Interview

The food comas have waned, the thanks for the food and families celebrated amidst football, naps and pre Black Friday shopping. May the deals be in your favor!

This puts us solidly into December, a mere 21 days out from the major gifting holiday (for the Christmas celebrators). What better way to celebrate then with another one of our favorite things? (Also another awesome company found in THE Holiday Guide)

Today’s feature is Dog Love Repeat, offering upscale boutique items for stylish pups and their people. Kristin is amazing, sweet, with a stylish eye and a soft spot for pups (we all may have that soft spot!). 


Hello Kristin!

How did you get started?

I’ve always dreamed of owning my own shop – especially a brick & mortar – which appealed because I love interior design.  Over the past many years I had mulled ideas over, especially when I was a young mother. I thought how cool to have a mom & baby store where moms could by for themselves and their kiddos in a comfortable, loungy space.  That never happened, but the dream was always simmering in the back of my brain.

 

Where did you get the idea for Dog Love Repeat?

I was “coerced” into adopting a dog when my kids were young.  I was the hold-out. I had a childhood dog who was less than ideal, I didn’t want dog hair in the house, I knew the responsibility would eventually fall to us parents, etc.  When Trixie came into my life, everything changed. I was working from home most of the time so I really got to bond with her. We were inseparable instantly and she converted me to a “dog person!”  Trixie is a chihuahua/min pin mix so she needs clothes in the winter. I was underwhelmed by what was out there in the market. They seemed drab, poorly made, cheesy – no fun. I wanted her clothes to match my aesthetic – the love for fun, colorful and whimsical, but also well made.  I noticed the maker movement was exploding everywhere but in the pet market. I discovered a niche.

What’s unique about Dog Love Repeat? What sets you apart from others in your industry?

Dog Love Repeat is a carefully curated shop featuring over a dozen local, national and international artists who make each item by hand – many exclusively for us. Because of this, we can cross-promote our artists.  We have an artisan section on our website with bios and links to their own websites or Etsy shops. We’re proud to say many are women-owned brands. Our goal is to bring a smile with our products. We also give back to causes near and dear to our hearts – dog rescues, shelters and adoption; mental health awareness and the artist community.

Additionally, we have a wonderful, loyal, local following.  For those customers, when orders come in, I credit the shipping charge and hand deliver whenever I can.  Why not? As a consumer, I’m thrilled whenever I can get away with free shipping. It’s going above and beyond expectations.  We don’t want to just please. We want to delight.

(photo by Leo @leothelionpup)

What is something that surprised you about owning a business? 

There was this notion I had that once we were featured on TV or was in a local magazine or newspaper, that would mean I “made it.”  All problems would be solved from there on out. I would have arrived. Not so! It certainly helps and is the cherry on the whipped cream, but they’re in the recycling bin after a few weeks.  It’s about making sure you’re in front of the right people, your target audience, constantly.

Also, being an online only boutique (with the exception of markets and short-term pop-ups) is very isolating and it’s difficult to be found.  It feels a little hollow sending product off to customers you never see. Often times you may not get any feedback – you just send your precious cargo off into the world and hope the recipient loves them as much as we do. 

 

Did you have any early challenges? If so how did you overcome them? If not, what is something you’ve accomplished with Dog Love Repeat that makes you mega proud?

Ha!  Not just early challenges – they continue every day – after 2 1/2 years from launching.  I have a 4-day-a-week day job aside from Dog Love Repeat. I knew starting up a business would be all-consuming and when you’re passionate about something, you just don’t care what it takes, you do it.  I didn’t start up the business with a nest egg, I didn’t crowd source, I just took a loan out against my 401K. It was a pretty measly amount, considering, and I learned the hard way about some aspects of starting up.  Probably spent too much money where I shouldn’t have, bit off more than I could chew, etc. But I know this is a common theme you hear from entrepreneurs – we learn so much more from our failures than our successes.

Being completely transparent, cash flow is always an issue.  Some of our product ideas have completely flopped. Some products should have more of a profit margin.  I’m constantly re-evaluating our offerings and trying different directions until it seems we’ve found the right fit, price point, etc. for our customers.

What I’m proudest of, however, are the relationships I have forged with our customers, our artisan partners and fellow, local makers.  Many have become dear friends. They are the ones rooting for DLR, coming to events just to say ‘hi’, spreading the word on social media.  These are people in my life I know I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for DLR.

What is some advice you’d give someone just starting out? 

Just know it’s going to be super hard.  Like beat you down to your knees hard. Are there instant success stories out there?  Sure. But the majority of start-ups are pouring out their blood, sweat and tears to get by.  You need to focus on YOUR vision and what you want to stand for and stick by it. My day job involves corporate branding and I am fortunate to have that background.  That’s where I started – with the identity of DLR. That includes the logo, brand palette, mission and brand pillars – which for DLR are heartfelt, authentic and whimsical. I look through that lens each time I consider adding a product.  It’s way too easy to get distracted and scattered if you don’t have that lens.

Another bit of advice is to lean on others in your shoes.  Pick the brains of other entrepreneurs. Any chance I get at markets, I’m asking, probing, learning from others.  It’s a wonderful, supportive community. Everyone wants to help everyone else. There is enough room for all of us.  With that being said, it’s also a small world. Being professional, respectful and gracious will get you far – you never want to burn bridges. 

Finally, listen to your body.  Protecting your physical and mental health, and striking the work-life balance that’s best for you is so important.  I learned the hard way and it all came crashing down this past summer. I struggled with depression and anxiety and had to just push the pause button and get myself well.  I was so afraid all of my followers would be gone and everyone would forget about DLR. None of that happened.

 

What is you most popular product? 

By far it’s our bandanas that feature hand illustrated prints by Washington DC artist, Elizabeth Graeber.  Her work is the epitome of whimsical! There are bananas, clementines, sea waves, ice cream cones, strawberries, watermelon, lemons, squirrels and ornaments.  I don’t know of any other pet brands who offer a product like this. They’re pretty special.

Do you have any pets?

Of course there is the aforementioned Miss Trixie.  We also adopted chihuahua, Ziggy, a year and a half ago.  He’s a puppy mill rescue and that was a new challenge for us.  He has adjusted beautifully and we’ve earned his trust. He used to not look me in the eyes and now he not only does that, but he gives me a kiss on the nose every so often!  I love bringing him to markets and educating young and old about the horrors of puppy mills and why no one should be buying pets at a pet store.

 

Tell us about the humans behind Dog Love Repeat:

I’m the founder, curator, PR and social media person, accountant – you name it!  I’m the wife of Dan, a realtor, and two kids; Max (20) and Alex (19). I’ve been at Medtronic (a medical device company) for 18 years as a communications specialist.  I also teach group fitness and yoga classes. In the past year I’ve started combining my love of dogs and yoga and am teaching doga – yoga with your dog! Right now I’m teaching sporadically at different events in the Twin Cities, but hope to have regular classes in the future.  I just LOVE doing it. Dog parents come to the class very skeptical, apologizing for their dog’s behavior in advance. Almost 100% of the time, by the time we get to savasana, everyone is chill and laying down. It’s a sight to behold. 

The heart of Dog Love Repeat, though, are the artisans.  They are tremendously talented, hard working, passionate and are dog lovers and dog parents!  Currently they represent the Twin Cities, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, Vermont, Washington DC, New York City, and Colombia, South America.

Where can we find Dog Love Repeat?

https://www.dogloverepeat.com

https://www.instagram.com/dogloverepeat/

https://www.facebook.com/dogloverepeat/

AND Nov. 6 – December 20 – Wed-Fri, 11-3, you can find us at the Chameleon Shoppes IDS Center pop-up.  The Chameleon Consortium is a private-public group dedicated to the experiential and economic vitality of downtown Minneapolis. Their purpose is to create vibrant downtown experiences by transforming empty retail spaces into equity opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. We are thrilled to be a part of it!

Thank you a ton Kristin! Head her way, snag some stylish items for your pup and give her love in a like and follow!

 


Did you miss the other favorite things interviews?

Find CuddleMutt here: CuddleMutt
Find Val’s Brew Treats here: Val’s 
Find Atomic Collars here: Atomic Collars
Find the Dogs of Minneapolis book here: Dogs of Minneapolis

Our Favorite Things – Atomic Collars Interview

December is lurking, just behind the turkeys, with attempts at S**W to add a little extra chaos to traveling for the holidays. (Be safe with this week!)

November started the flood of the merry holidays, trimmed in tinsel & gift giving. Inspired, THE Holiday Gift Guide was launched. Aligned with the Holiday Gift Guide is a series of interviews with the businesses behind our favorite things.

CuddleMutt, Val’s Brew Treats & the book Dogs of Minneapolis have all been featured.

Time for another! Atomic Collars!


Our favorite things: Atomic Collars!

Hello Cahlean!

Cahlean is epically amazing, with not only the talent you love and know as About A Dog Photography, but she sews BOMB accessories for dogs as Atomic Collars.
(Yes giving yourself an interview about your own business is a bit unique, it works out in the end haha!)

How did you get started?

It was a bloody cold day, Jan or Feb if recall is correct. Bender (at the time a foster) needed a stylish martingale collar. Locally, the options were super limited to black, blue & red inch wide. A trip to the thrift store, a bold red necktie partnered with a tan men’s belt, sewn together with vibrant red thread and the first collar (Atom) was conceived. 

Where did you get the idea for Atomic Collars?

With the collars being upcycled especially from vintage (sometimes fugly) neckties, it seemed fitting to have a “retro” name. Atomic always carries the feeling of pinups, bowling shirts, and just enough sass. There wasn’t a ton of wide (1.5 to 2 inch) collar options, especially for girls. We wanted to offer collars that were durable and wide enough to be stylish

What’s unique about Atomic Collars? What sets you apart from others in your industry?

The material for the collars is upcycled found fabrics – everything from neckties, skirts, suit jackets, leggings, even dishcloths. Its a process of giving new life to a garment or fabric source. Plus the amount of collars or scarves from an item is limited so it makes each one unique.

* The metal bits & most of the webbing is usually new, so as to ensure durability. 

What is something that surprised you about owning a business?

How different it was running a retail business vs a photography business (About A Dog Photography). Inventory is a THING! The ideal is a new pattern launch (on the website), give it a lovely picture and call it good, when actually there needs to be a count of how many bits of the new pattern there is!

Did you have any early challenges? If so how did you overcome them? If not, what is something you’ve accomplished with Atomic Collars that makes you the proudest?

Early challenges was with the sewing machine (bobbin tension oh vey!) and finding strong d rings. Rings from men’s belts were fairly easy to quest for, most of them aren’t designed to take the full force of a 65+ dog hitting the end of the leash in a chase after a squirrel. We’ve found welded ones that should handle everything a dog can get them into. 

What is some advice you’d give someone just starting out? 

It can be a ton of work, but its also super rewarding to have people excited about the collars and scarves and seeing dogs rocking things you crafted!

What is you most popular product?

Martingale collars. A close second would be the newest addition – scarves!

Do you have any pets?

Indeed – the foster fail who inspired the start of Atomic Collars, the pittie Bender. And a boxer mix named Axel (he’s the inspiration behind About A Dog Photography).

Tell us about the humans behind Atomic Collars:

Cahlean (waves). I’m the creative gusto behind all the ideas at Atomic Collars, the lover of dogs and milk glass cake stands, everything cider and the warmth of summer, photography, sewing and collecting a horde of vintage patterns.

Where can we find Atomic Collars?

atomiccollars.com as well as the socials IG @ atomiccollars Facebook @ atomiccollars

We’ll also be at Inbound Brewco on Dec 1st (THIS SUNDAY!) for the “Maker & Baker” event as the Maker! Swing out from 12-4 and pick up a bomb collar and a smart scarf!

Thanksgiving means PIE! And pie for DOGS!

The turkeys are being bought, the stuffing stuffed, the cranberries are singing, being de-canned or compoted, while potatoes prepare to be mashed and smothered in matching turkey gravy. The end of the meal has released the belt at least two notches,  a statisfied sign, a burp then the wafting goodness as the last element of classic Thanksgiving is pulled from the oven.

PIE!

Around here pumpkin pie with an over generous heaping of whipped cream caps off the meal.

Which got us thinking, could dogs delight in the same pie goods as us humans? In a way yes.

Traditionally pumpkin pie is made with nutmeg which very very BAD for dogs! Which means dogs can’t eat our pumpkin pie, but we can always MAKE them their own pies!

Here’s a handy recipe to make your dog his own pumpkin pies!


Pumpkin Pie For Dogs

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 24 Mini Pies
  • Category: Special Occasion

Ingredients

  • Oat flour (pulse rolled oats in a food processor to a floury consistency)
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Banana
  • Unsweetened pureed pumpkin
  • OPTIONAL: Low-fat plain yogurt for topping

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350º

For the topping:

You can thicken the yogurt by placing it in a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter,

Set the strainer over a bowl to catch the whey.

For the crust:

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and applesauce until a nice dough ball forms.

Divide the dough into 24 equal sized pieces

Place a ball in each well of a mini muffin tin and press to flatten.

Bake the crust for 8 min or until just starting to color

Let cool before removing from pan.

For the filling:

Peel and mash the banana in a large bowl.

Add the pumpkin puree and stir to combine.

Divide the filling among the pie crusts and top with yogurt.

(Found on Rover.com)


Want to try a different type of pie? Substitute out the pumpkin and whip up:

  • an apple pie
  • a banana pie (mix in some peanut butter for an Elvis vibe)
  • a blueberry pie
  • a cranberry pie
  • a peach pie
  • a pear pie
  • a raspberry pie
  • a strawberry pie (or mix all the berries!)

All the fruits listed above are dog edible. If you make any of them just be aware of too much added sugars that could upset your pup’s tummy. 

If we were crafting a dog pie, we’d aim towards a blueberry or peach (perhaps a blueberry peach one!).  What kind of pup pie will you create for your dog this Thanksgiving?

Our Favorite Things – Dogs of Minneapolis (the book)

The turkeys are harvesting, beginning their defrost to thawdom and epic feasts abounding with foods of the stuffed, canned, baked and freshly cut varieties, Thanksgiving is nearing, to be followed by naps and frantic shopping for THE deal of the year. 

Onward we continue with our favorite things series, this time we feature ourselves, About A Dog Photography. Not just photography sessions with your dog (which are always our FAVORITE thing) but something else solidly awesome. 


Our favorite things: Dogs of Minneapolis book

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! We have WRITTEN A BOOK!!! And…… its REAL!!! Snag one and get your hands all over this hunk of 11×8 awesomeness! Ooooo la la! A book by us! SWOON!!!


And take a breath…. (can you tell its one of our favorite things?)

This was an epic adventure full of amazing dogs and their people (18 sets of dogs including a dynamic duo and a quad with squad goals down) paired with those iconic locations found around Minneapolis. They helped raise: $1620+ for Secondhand Hounds, Ruff Start Rescue & Great Dane Rescue of MN & WI! (You can help raise even more! 10% of each Dogs of Minneapolis book purchase will be given to one of the three rescues!).

A few snafoos (overly bouncy pups, overly shy pups, permits and weather oh my!) didn’t keep this idea from growing into a tangible touchable book. We learned, we grew and we’ve got approx 500 more ideas for books to come. (Want to be part of the next one? Drop us a line at & we’ll get you on the waitlist! BTW the North Shore will be in the near future…)


A HUGE thank you for all the dogs who are part of the Dogs of Minneapolis. Without you, there would merely be pictures of murals, sculptures and buildings. Thank you a bazillion!

Show them the love:
– Ruby
– Bailey
– Murphy
– Kaiser
– Armani
– Luna & Zoey
– Austen
– Owen
– Panda
– Shanook & Shiloh
– Rocky, Arlee, Gemma & Mortie
– Nessa
– Sherman
– Jax
– Zuzu
– Bo
Kona
– Diamond

This little hunk is Armani! He had his session at the Walker Sculpture Garden!

This is part of our blog series “Our Favorite Things”. Did you miss the previous interviews? Find the CuddleMutt one here, and the Val’s Brew Treats one here

Our Favorite Things – Val’s Brew Treats Interview

Winter has arrived, full frozen force like Elsa tossing a pout in a dusting of snow, the coverage give or take your location. Couldn’t we ease into this a bit more?

On your quest to stay warm and cozy today, tip your hat to our veterans (thank you everyone who has served in the military, we appreciate it to the highest degree) and snuggle in for another addition our favorite things.

Today’s feature is Val’s Brew Treats. Kattie (pronounced Katie for those unsure) is a spunky, sweet, awesome woman doing epic things with… spent grains!


Our Favorite Things: Val’s Brew Treats!

Hello Kattie!

How did you get started?
It all started as most endeavors start: over a few beers at a brewery. We realized that after the brewing process, the spent grain is usually just thrown away despite the fact that it can still be used for baking. We took the spent grain, incorporated other natural ingredients, and baked a small batch of treats. Val readily volunteered to be our taste tester. Spoiler alert: he loved them!

Where did you get the idea for Val’s Brew Treats?
From our dog Val and the brewing community we love!

What’s unique about Val’s Brew Treats? (And do you only offer dog treats?)
Our dog treats are made with the leftover beer grain from the brewing process. We work directly with Twin Cities breweries. We are passionate about reusing and recycling to create a more sustainable way of living. 

We also make high quality pet products such as bandanas and bow ties. We even make paw & nose balm to help your pet in the winter.

We are a zero waste company. 

What is something that surprised you about owning a business? 
How much I enjoy it. I love being able to work from home and spend time doing what I love. And of course spending time with my dog. 

Did you have any early challenges? If so how did you overcome them? If not, what is something you’ve accomplished with Val’s Brew Treats that makes you mega proud?
How long it actually took to get the treats approved and ready to sell. I spent months working with the Department of Agriculture making sure my labels were correct. 

What is some advice you’d give someone just starting out? 
It’s hard work. Be prepared to work 16+ hours a day. But being your own boss is awesome!

What is you most popular product?
Buffalo plaid anything. 

Do you have any pets?
Val. He’s 6.5 yes lab/shepherd mix. We adopted him 4.5 years ago. He’s a wonderful dog who brings us joy daily. 

Val has many jobs at Val’s Brew Treats. His titles include: quality control, taste tester, model, and snuggler.

Tell us about the humans behind Val’s Brew Treats:
I’m Kattie and my boyfriend/partner is Ben. We are both originally from New Jersey and moved to Minneapolis almost 5 years ago. 

I grew up in my grandmothers sewing room. She is the most talented women I’ve ever met and I’m blessed to have 1/10 of the talent and skill she has. I’ve always been passionate about design/sewing. I also enjoying working with leather, watercolor, sculpture, and cooking. I love working with my hands and being able to create. 

Ben is my behind the scenes operations. He does labeling, social media, and booth helper am heavy aka heavy lifter.

Where can we find Val’s Brew Treats?
At one of the many markets we do each month (follow us on Facebook and Instagram to know where we’ll be) and our website https://www.valsbrewtreats.com/

Thank you a ton Kattie! Head over and snag some of those famous treats (Bender rather enjoyed his peanut butter ones) as well as some dapper accessories perfect for the holiday season!


Did you miss the CuddleMutt interview? Find it here: CuddleMutt