Dogs! Now that we have your attention, read how Babson Street shopkeeper and Babson alum Sarah Dyer ’95, MBA’07 found work/life balance—even when she’s working 14 hour days, and how her business selling fun bow ties, collars and other accessories for dogs (and goats and pigs) is a labor of love.
S: Because dogs are awesome. I started the business when I was living in Montreal and had just adopted a new puppy. There weren’t any fun options for collars, leashes, etc. for him. I was bored, and a friend owned a dog boutique in Boston so I made a few bow ties for her to sell, and brought a few to a shop down the street from my apartment and it just took off from there.
What do you enjoy most about running your business?
S: The dogs of course! We get to meet all kinds and people love sending us photos of their dogs in our bow ties and accessories. That’s pretty great. It’s hard to have a bad day at work when you make bow ties for dogs. My dogs can come to work with me every day. Plus, the flexibility is nice. I joke that I work 14 hours a day, but I get to pick which 14 hours. I’m fortunate to live by the ocean in Maine, and it’s amazing to be able to have lunch on the dock, or take the dogs swimming when the tide’s in. That quality of life element is so important.
Do people often send you pictures of their dogs wearing your creations? What’s your personal favorite?
S: They DO! And I love it. It makes my day to see how happy our products make people and when they take the time to take a nice photograph and send it to us, it means a lot. Hmmmm…my personal favorite changes every time I get a new photo. But we’ve had some really unique ones—a pair of miniature pigs in Jacksonville, and last week I had a picture of a goat in North Carolina dressed up and looking pretty dapper. Weddings are good too. I love when people include their pups in their special day.
You recently expanded your business to include face coverings. Was this an easy pivot from dog collars and accessories?
S: Surprisingly, it WAS easy! We have a full storage area of fabric in our studios, and when our main revenue shut off with the closing of our retail clients (dog groomers, pet boutiques, etc.) we started getting requests from local clinics, care facilities and even our local grocery store for masks. So many of us felt helpless and just wanted to feel useful. I teamed up with my mom, and some friends and neighbors who were also looking for ways to help, and we just started cranking them out as the requests were pouring in. From there, we added some to the website for a few clients who were still open (vet clinics, etc) and it really took off. Now, we’ve expanded to have “mask mates” where we match the human face mask to a bow tie for their canine companion, and it’s been really well received. It’s a fun way to make the best of the crazy situation we’re in. I also think it helps kids get on board with wearing their own mask when their dog has a matching accessory.
What type of dog(s) do you have?
S: We have an 8-year-old black lab named Magnus (who was the inspiration for the company) and a 5-year-old Catahoula/Lab mix named Jake who was rescued from Texas.
Tell us about how you help animal shelters?
S: Any way we can. It’s an important part of our mission to be a contributing community member. For us, that translates to volunteering at shelters, fostering puppies (yeah, pretty great) and running fundraisers to help raise money for critical medical expenses. In addition, we donate hundreds of bow ties to shelters to help with adoption photos and as prizes or giveaways for their own internal fundraising events.
How do you take your coffee?
S: Who has time for coffee? Kidding, I’m an espresso gal… but it takes me two days to drink a latte…hot day 1, and half into the fridge cold for day two. Strange, but true!
What book are you currently reading?
S: I’m split between Detective in the Dooryard by Tim Cotton and Vegetables Unleashed by Jose Andrés (I’m obsessed with what’s happening in my gardens this year).
Do you have a message for our newest alumni, the Class of 2020?
S: The best advice I can give you is to get out and embrace life. Don’t get sucked into work too much. You’re young, flexible and there are so many cool things to do at this stage in your life. Find a company that celebrates your need for personal time and development. I was lucky to be living in Boston when I was younger, and loved using the Community Sailing program in the summer. My job let me off early one day a week so I could go learn to sail. I made some lifelong friends, and have some amazing memories of beautiful sunsets on the Charles River. Find your sunset and summer breezes and make sure you get to enjoy them!