|Article Author: Angie McKaig|
Hip retailer George makes urban fashion for dogs that's drool-worthy by Angie McKaig
If you live and work in an urban setting (as Merry and I do), odds are you've seen George products. They're spectacularly designed. They epitomize the urban lifestyle - trendy colors, practical materials, casual and spare - and with hundreds of products from beds to apparel to dog bowls and toys, there's something in the George collection to fill your every urban need.
The company is based out of San Francisco with one retail location in the city and another in Berkeley, and run by Bobby Wise and Lyndon Lambert (and George, the company's namesake, a wire hair fox terrier, helps to oversee things).
We recently spoke Bobby Wise about George, design, and luxuries for dogs.
pp: What made you decide to start George??
bw: My boyfriend and I (Lyndon Lambert) had relocated from Austin, TX to New York in Jan of 1987. One of our first priorities was to get a dog, which we did in May. George was 10 weeks old, and the best looking puppy ever to come out of the Bronx! Over the course of the next two years when we were in New York, we were of course, obsessed with little George. It was always frustrating to walk into pet stores, because we never saw any accoutrements / dog accessories that were appealing to us. This was the beginning of our idea for GEORGE, the company.
pp: Are your product lines carried only in the US, or they available worldwide?
bw: We sell to a few shops in London and Paris, but our main foreign distribution is in Japan. We've worked with our Japanese distributor since 1992, and have quite a wide range of shops in Japan. In addition, we have a GEORGE shop in Kobe.
pp: What sets George apart from other companies making these kinds of products for pets and pet lovers?
bw: I think GEORGE has a very tight design sense, which is due to very cohesive development of products over the years. Also, we have a very wide range of products, as we try to touch on every significant aspect of care and comfort for both dogs and cats.
pp: Do you design all the products yourself?
bw: I have a strong hand in all product development, but we work with several graphic designers who help to realize the graphic sense for any new product.
pp: Do you have a background in design?
bw: I do not have background in design... just bossy, with a pretty strong sense of what I like, and what I think will translate well into products.
pp: How do you come up with the designs?
bw: We have some categories such as bedding, coats, and dog sweaters which we re-design with seasonal regularity. These re-designs sometimes involve just color or fabric changes, or it might be for an entirely new piece of apparel or object of bedding. Basically, we do new things as we see the need emerge in the market.
pp: What influences your design choices?
bw: Books, travel, nature, dogs (and cats)!
pp: Your most popular product?
bw: Our beds are very popular, as well as the jackets, sweaters, and cotton webbing collar series. We've also had some products in our line since we started the company in 1991, so they're in the hall of fame of popularity.
pp: Your personal favourite product?
bw: I think our vinyl stick chew toy is really great - the concept , execution and purpose make it a really great product. Although, truthfully as soon as a new product happens, it's ALWAYS my new favorite.
pp: What's the most rewarding part of running George?
bw: Seeing our concept and vision realized , and product development. It's always so exciting (and trying) to bring a new product to market.
pp: Why do you think there has been such an increase in demand for luxury dog products over the last ten years?
bw: The trend in "double income, no kids" couples as well as more same sex couples is probably the strongest factor because when these couples adopt an animal, they generally have both the time and resources to provide really well. Also - we've been in business since 1991, and I think at this point, the market exposure has made the purchase of premium pet goods more acceptable.
pp: What plans do you have for the future of George?
bw: We plan to open more retail locations, and there are lots of great plans for products that both animals and people will love.
pp: Where can you buy George?
bw: At our two retail shops in San Francisco and Berkeley, online at georgesf.com, and various retailers across the country.
pp: Tell us a little about your dog(s).
bw: As a rambunctious 2 year old, George the dog gave Lyndon and me quite a scare. We were playing in Central Park one bitterly cold morning, and George was romping with a stick that lodged in this throat. It frightened him, and he bolted out of the park across seven avenues of morning rush hour traffic. We chased him until he was out of sight, and then ran the rest of the way to our apartment to continue our search efforts. It was a frustrating day of putting up posters, calling every animal rescue and SPCA in the city, and panicking about the possiblility of never seeing our little friend again.
Finally, around 8pm that night, we received a call from a woman who said she had George. She had picked him up in front of our regular pet store that morning, and George had been under her bed all day faced with her 4 apricot poodles yipping at him. Needless to say, it only brought us closer to George, and he seemed to have a renewed love for us, too!
For complete information regarding George products,