In honor of Black Business Month, we’re sharing the products and stories behind some of our favorite black-owned pet businesses. Whether you are looking to spice up your pup’s swagger or spoil them with the ultimate spa day, Sir Dogwood and Harlem Doggie Day Spa have got you covered. Keep reading to learn more about these amazing businesses and how they built their business in the pet industry from the ground up.

Sir Dogwood  

Sir Dogwood is where pup culture lives. Owner Chaz Olajide set out to shift the pet industry through a globally sourced selection of dog wear, toys and accessories that are carefully curated from unique designers around the world. From raglan tees to cozy onesies, your pup might just be better dressed than you.  

Q: How did you start your own business? 

A: Back in 2016, I began Sir Dogwood with a ton of passion, a bit of retail experience, and not a lot of money. Since we're an e-commerce store, costs were relatively low. Our journey began with a minimal amount of inventory, which was kept in an extra closet at home. Overtime, we've successfully increased our inventory beyond what the closet could handle and have blossomed into a three-person operation. But Sir Dogwood had humble beginnings indeed! 

Q: What is your business about?   

A: Sir Dogwood features a globally sourced selection of dog wear, toys and accessories thoughtfully curated from the most unique designers from around the world. We also partner with emerging makers to create limited edition pieces available exclusively from Sir Dogwood. Our mission is to support women and BIPOC-led brands, as well as pet welfare organizations we believe in. We donate monthly to One Tail at a Time, which in addition to helping end pet homelessness in Chicago, focuses on issues like increasing diversity within the field of veterinary medicine. CARE is another organization dedicated to bringing increased equity and inclusion to the animal welfare industry, who we have a close relationship to. 

Q: Why did you start your pet business? 

A: When I brought my first dog home and started poking around online for new pet supplies, I wanted to shop small but couldn't find fashion-forward modern accessories that appealed to me. Basically, I wanted to create a pet space that I didn't already see in the market — a place where one could find a variety of aesthetically pleasing lifestyle products for your dog without having to go to a big box store! 

Q: Are there any challenges/struggles that you face in the industry?   

A: I couldn't help but notice the lack of diversity in the types of pet parents represented online, and I really wanted to help shift the pet industry in a more inclusive direction. After the most recent BLM movement gained momentum last summer, many Black-owned small business owners saw a wave of increased visibility and customer support, myself included. The challenge now is to keep that momentum going now and into the future!  

Q: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started?  

AThe one thing I wish I'd known when I started was the importance of having a network of other entrepreneurs who I could go to for support and advice. It's easier when you're a one-person shop to work in your own silo, but there's no substitute for having a support system of small business owners who are either where you are now (or have been where you are now) and can offer guidance because they've been in your shoes.  

SirDogwood Website

Sirdogwood Instagram

Harlem Doggie Day Spa 

If you are looking for the ultimate spa retreat for your pup – look no further. Harlem Doogie Day Spa, founded by Brian Taylor is not only a dog spa but a daycare, cage-free boarding, and grooming facility in Harlem. Brian has focused on building a business that benefits not only the pups of New York but the community of pet parents in Harlem.  

Q: How did you start your own business?  

A: Borrowed a loan, family support, saved money etc. I saved up my money and invested with my ex-partner.  I cashed out my 401k and refocused on building my business once I was fired from a retail bank.  

Q: What is your business about?   

A: I love giving pups the ultimate spa treatment they deserve and operating a Black Owned Pet Business that services the Harlem Pup Community. 

Q: Why did you start your pet business? 

A: I started my business because I saw there was a need for pet services owned and operated by an African in Harlem. I was born in Sierra Leone and unfortunately having a pet was not normal in my community. Moving to Harlem after college I saw African Americans are huge pet lovers. I opened this business with an ex-partner in part to prove my friends and families wrong. My thesis at the time " Black people love pups and pampered their pups just like any other race. Pups are part of the family, and they deserve the very best care. Our mission was to provide that care. 

Q: Are there any challenges/struggles that you face in the industry?    

A: There are a lot of challenges in working in the animal industry. Some people do not respect what you do. It requires a lot of patience at times to educate and get through to some pet parents.  The consensus is that we play with pups all day which is not true. Our job is animal care and promoting a safe play for pets to get along. I spend most of the time cleaning poop, correcting, and awarding safe play in our dog day care. It's a burnout industry at times but I focus on continuing education and encouraging vacation and time off breaks. Finding a good employee, it's so challenging but I do a lot to keep them by investing in their dream. Clients are easy to find but loyalty is all so challenging. Being accessible and customizing services for pet parents is what makes your business win over another pet service.  

Q: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started?   

A: Honestly, I was thankful to have a partner in the beginning that helped me laid the groundwork. I will always give credit where credit is due. I think what helped me the most is connecting with a community of dog business owners. I am always about continuing education, so I went to Pet Trade Shows across the country. Since we are more than a dog grooming business but an animal facility, I did a lot of tours of other facilities across the country. 

 

Harlem Doggie Day Spa Website  

Harlem Doggie Day Spa Instagram