Over the course of the last year, when I’ve been asked what inspired me to start BLUEBLOOD Luxury Goods for Dogs, I’ve always quickly answered that it was my love for design and of course, my adoration for dogs. However, when I sit and think about what truly drives me to be in the dog business, I realize it’s something far deeper, perhaps less obvious.
I have loved animals since I as far back as I can remember. Growing up, I traveled the world with my parents - From Europe to Asia, North to East Africa, and many countries in between. I spent numerous summers in third world countries where, without fail, I would always find a filthy dog in an alley. Although I was always warned not to touch them, I couldn’t help myself. I was drawn to them, like a fish to water, and found it impossible not to scoop them into my arms.
When I was 11 years old, my loving, yet Obsessive Compulsive Mom finally succumbed to years of pleading and surprised me with my first dog, “Sasha.” She was a gorgeous and regal German Shepard puppy. Mom finally gave in because at the time my father, whom I adored, was dying of cancer. “Happy” is not a strong enough word to describe what it felt like to awaken each morning, my heart beating with excitement. I fell in love with Sasha and at that moment knew that animals had a greater healing power than any medicine or prayer. I knew that a dog could make my pain melt away.
The next dog to come in my life was my yellow Lab, Tubby. Tubby was a birthday surprise purchased by my college boyfriend. Bringing a yellow lab puppy home to his 22-year-old girlfriend, living in an apartment in New York City was not the most prudent decision. Nonetheless, there appeared a scrumptious yellow lab puppy with a big red bow around his neck. His mouth moved faster than the speed of light and it was all I could do to cuddle up to him without his razor sharp teeth tearing into my face. He immediately gained an appreciation for shoes - the higher the price tag, the tastier they became. Tubby also loved books, clothing, umbrellas, all home decorative objects and even a Braun cappuccino maker. This of course is not an unusual Labrador story, but is certainly an extreme one. Tubby lived up to his name at one point when he reached a mind-blowing, 115 pounds. He attained his heavy weight title after moving in with my mom and my gourmet cook, step-father, who loved feeding him eggs and duck fat each morning.
As much as I loved Tubby, it took many years before I felt “ready” for another dog. Two and a half years ago, my husband and I finally received the “go ahead” from our landlord in San Francisco. He had not allowed previous tenants to have a dog in his beautiful Victorian building, but after knowing us for several years, he made an exception. I had wanted a Basset Hound for many years and always loved their expressive faces and adorably strange bodies. They also seemed incredibly lazy which probably attracted me to the breed more than anything. In February of 2006, we found Gretel, who turned my life upside down. Gretel and I bonded immediately when I climbed in the back seat to comfort her on our 2 1/2 hour drive home from Placerville to San Francisco. She instantly knew I was her mommy and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
Within weeks everyone in my Pacific Heights neighborhood knew Gretel. I made tons of new friends and best of all, I met Tina, my business partner at our local dog park. Tina came to the park with her Schnauzer, Salty, as often as I came with Gretel. We instantly bonded as we played with our dogs and discussed our personal lives, careers and interests. Here, I thought, was a girl with equal dedication and adoration for her dog as I had for mine. At the time I was struggling as a free-lance graphic artist, always fulfilled with the work but rarely compensated for it. After years of finding my way as an interior and graphic designer, Tina asked if I’d ever considered designing for dogs. I thought the idea was perfect and if there is such a thing as “serendipity” this was it.
This month is exactly one year since we launched our business, which is thriving and growing each week. We are enjoying and every moment of our journey and are amazed with its rapid success. What I have found most rewarding and remarkable is the incredible international interest and response we have received. Each week we hear from a different country- Switzerland, Holland, Portugal -places I would have never thought would have any interest in spending money on their dogs. I knew the dog business was pretty massive in the U.S, but never imagined the rate at which it is grows around the world.
It is so fitting and beautiful that all the significant experiences of my life are somehow tying together. My love for travel, different cultures, all areas of design and yes, dogs. The reality is that dogs bring love and happiness to all people. People of every race, ethnicity, economic bracket or religion share in the deeply bonded relationship between human and canine. This bond is so profound because dogs are creatures who practice unconditional love, who live their lives as we humans should aspire to live ours. They are the essence of love.