It may appear that Black-owned pet businesses are rare, but it all comes down to visibility. They’re out there, and they’re doing great things. They’re also led by founders that stand for something, and we’re proud to stand along with them, by spotlighting a number of notable companies!
Hoping to shift the pet industry in a more modern, inclusive direction, Chaz Olajide launched Sir Dogwood soon after developing an obsession with her new, feisty Miniature Schnauzer in 2016. The online company offers a chic selection of dog wear, toys, and accessories, thoughtfully curated from the most unique designers from around the world. They also partner directly with emerging makers to create limited edition pieces available exclusively from Sir Dogwood.
Sir Dogwood’s commitment is to make the pet industry more inclusive by supporting women and BIPOC-led brands, amplifying their voices and increasing their visibility in their store, on their blog, and through their social media platforms.
The company is proud to support One Tail At A Time, a Chicago non-profit with a mission to end pet homelessness. OTAT rescues animals from overcrowded shelters, places them in loving forever homes and provides support to pet owners in need. OTAT also addresses the current lack of diversity in the veterinary field, appointing a Black veterinary surgical team at the Ellis Veterinary Clinic, home of the newly-dedicated Sir Dogwood Dog Suite.
Additionally, Sir Dogwood supports CARE (Companions and Animals for Reform and Equity). CARE’s focus is on transforming animal rescue organizations through workforce development, evidence-based tools, and inspiring narratives. With a mission to bring diverse voices to the pet welfare industry while advocating for inclusive paths to pet adoption, their goal is to create a more diverse space in which BIPOC leaders, adopters, and veterinarians can thrive.
Learn more about Sir Dogwood here!
Sir Darius Brown
Sir Darius Brown, a 16-year-old powerhouse social entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and champion for shelter pets, is the founder and CEO of Beaux & Paws, a company that sells pet bow ties under the “buy one, give one” business model.
Sir Darius was diagnosed with speech, cognitive, and fine motor skills delays when he was two years old. To assist him in developing his hand dexterity and fine motor skills, his sister taught him how to sew bow ties when he was only eight years old. Sir Darius started to wear bow ties more regularly and received lots of praise.
As a devoted dog lover, Sir Darius began creating bow ties in 2017 specifically to help rescued dogs from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. His aim was to allow them to appear stylish and fashionable, so they would stand out and find new homes faster. During this period, he discovered that hundreds of dogs were being put to death every day at some shelters due to overcrowding. As a result, his business pivoted, and he began creating bow ties for pets and animals in shelters. Hence, Beaux & Paws was established! All of his bow ties continue to be handmade at his home in Newark, NJ, with a two-person team, Sir Darius and his mother, Joy Brown.
With over 130k followers on social media, Sir Darius has utilized his platform to help countless dogs and cats find homes and helped raise over $300,000 to support animal shelters and shelter pets worldwide. No wonder he was named one of the World’s Top 100 Global Child Prodigies.
Learn more about Beaux & Paws here!
In 2017, House Dogge Founder and Designer, Angela Medlin, saw an opportunity to evolve her passion project into an artisanal dog product brand. The lifelong creative began unpacking the inspiration she had been collecting from years of travel and research. Natural materials, design objects, and clever packaging were placed on the wall in her studio as inspiration. Medlin was drawn to the simplicity of design and function, and this would become the direction of House Dogge.
For her entire career in corporate design, as product Designer and Director at brands like Nike, Levi Strauss, and The North Face, Medlin was recognized as one of less than 1% professional designers of color in the apparel industry. From this rare vantage point, Medlin led design teams in creating global products that solve problems for professional athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyday consumers. Medlin continues to innovate with the same passion, natural talent, curiosity, and problem solving skills for House Dogge.
Medlin is also a creative coach, serves as a design leader on multiple advisory boards, and is the Founder of the FAAS Design Collab which provides professional development to under represented creatives desiring to enter the product creation industry.
House Dogge believes that LOVE HEALS. That’s why they donate a percentage of each purchase to nonprofits devoted to health-challenged, homeless, unwanted, neglected, and/or abused dogs. Currently, House Dogge supports the Northwest Dog Project, a small non-profit in Oregon dedicated to saving lives and bringing a spark of happiness back to amazingly resilient dogs.
Learn more about House Dogge here!
Terry James is the CEO of Offleash’d, a social app that connects pet lovers looking for either romantic relationships or friendships. It’s the perfect fit for the passionate dog dad, who currently parents 3 furbabies with his wife of 20+ years!
Prior to joining the pet industry in late 2020, Terry enjoyed a successful 23+ year career as a Senior Executive in the real estate and financial services industries. Terry was recently named one of the Top 100 Innovators of 2023 by Entrepreneurs Magazine, and is poised to expand Offleash’d to major cities across the country.
Offleash’d seeks to empower people to form deeper relationships and create their own community around their shared passion for pets, whether it be online or in-person. With their unrivaled capacity for unconditional love, the team sees pets as an amazing conduit for pursuing these deeper connections, which is why they offer their users a unique opportunity to experience all the ways that love can be spread!
Learn more about Offleash’d here!
Bark & Tumble
Founder Leah Bertram has always been drawn to the world of fashion and design, taking her creative influences from art, music and culture.
With a degree in fashion design, Leah has worked with high street brands and luxury designers. She began her career designing menswear, focussing on function and simplicity by using luxury fabrics and prints. Eventually, Leah decided that she wanted her very own fur-baby, and fell in love with an adorable French Bulldog called Fendi. While shopping for Fendi, Leah noticed a lack of ethically-produced pet products, and struggled to find clothing that fit. She quickly realized that there was an outlet to showcase independent brands and creators in the pet industry.
Leah used her pattern cutting experience and knowledge in fashion and the retail industry to design and sew clothes for Fendi. Before long, this expanded into an entire line of unique clothing for her brand Bark and Tumble, which now stocks a collection of homeware and natural petcare for dogs. The company designs high-quality, beautifully crafted and functional products that are ethically sourced, made and delivered, and addresses the needs of a modern, conscious consumer.
Learn more about Bark & Tumble here!
Renaldo Webb, an alum of MIT and McKinsey, created a human-grade pet food company after finding frustration with the lack of quality and personalized options in the pet food market.
For years, his dog Winston had been sending him signals, both through his serious digestive issues, and the way he would flat-out ignore the meals that were offered to him. One day, when Renaldo’s consulting job took him to the factory floor of a giant pet food manufacturer, he finally realized what his pup’s messages meant. Because this wasn’t “food” at all. It was a slurry of feed-grade ingredients—literally diseased and rejected by-products deemed unfit for human consumption— cooked at ultra-high, nutrient-zapping temperatures. No wonder Winston rejected his food. It was literally making him sick.
Winston had been communicating, and Renaldo was determined to listen. Not just to his dog, but to all dogs. He teamed up with Dr. Renee Streeter, a leading veterinary nutritionist, to home cook nutritionally-rich recipes made with REAL, human grade ingredients. When he saw how quickly it made a difference in Winston’s happiness and health, he began offering his gently cooked meals to friends and family. Their dogs thrived, and he knew he was on to something.
Renaldo founded PetPlate in 2016, with the goal of helping dogs and their families live longer, happier, and healthier lives together. Having served millions of nutritionally-balanced, high-quality meals and counting, the proudly Black-owned and Woman-led company has officially proved that everyone deserves a seat at the table…and that includes our dogs!
Learn more about PetPlate here!