PuchiBag gives fashion divas (and their owners) a trendy alternative by Angie McKaig
For a company that has only been around for two years, PuchiBag has made quite a name for itself. PuchiBag, owned by DeEdyre Burks and Deann Zampelli, has been featured in magazines such as US Magazine, Vogue, InStyle and Ladies Home Journal. The charming fashion “puchi” carriers recently had a starring role in the film Legally Blonde; the main character, Elle Woods, carried Bruiser (her pet chihuahua) throughout the film in a PuchiBag.
These fashionable bags give an alternative to pet owners who want to take their furry friends along with them without having to lug around a clunky pet carrier. In fact, they're fashionable enough to stand alone on the runway.
We recently spoke to one of the company's founders, Deann Zampelli, about PuchiBag.
pp:How did the idea for PuchiBag come about?
dz: My partner Dede got a Pomeranian (Zulu) who became a very big part of her life. She and I have known each other for 15 years and we decided we wanted to go into business together (both of us being entrepreneurs in other areas).
One day, she had Zulu in her backpack and kept getting comments on what a great idea that was. She called me that same night and said, "WE are going to make doggie bags!". I thought she was nuts at first but then we got together and started shooting ideas back and forth. Suddenly it didn't seem so crazy anymore.
pp:How do you come up with the designs?
dz: Usually we are inspired by something. Our Martini bag, for example, came to me when my husband and I were in Charleston last year. I saw this 1940's cocktail purse in the window of an antique store. That night I couldn't sleep, so I started drawing up a sketch and the Martini Bag was the result.
Dede came up with the Sling after she heard a customer make a comment that she would like to be able to see her dog while she is carrying it around.
pp:What doggie-friendly features do the bags have?
dz: All PuchiBags are made with no animal skins in the designs, have removable padded bottoms, elasticized safety collars, side mesh paneling for ventilation and viewing, and a top flap closure to secure the dog inside without catching its hair. As well, they have a zippered Dutch window so they can stick their head out and watch the world go by or be tucked in and remain incognito.
pp:Which bags are the most popular?
dz: The Black Patent Tami, the Zebra Tote, the Lauren Tami and the Martini Bag are all big sellers.
pp:You donate a percentage of profits to animal rights organizations. What made you decide to do this?
dz: Both of us love animals (my husband calls me Dr. Doolittle because I can't walk by any animal without saying "hi") and I am a vegetarian so I am very cognizant of animal issues. The biggest way we now help animal charities (and many other charities not animal related) is by donating bags for silent auctions.
Last year, among others, our bags earned over $3000 at one event for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer New Jersey Affiliate. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a favorite — we donate bags every year to their November fund raiser. PAWS/LA is another great one... so many worthy causes! The Amanda Foundation, American Heart Association, and more! I used to work for a children's charity so non-profit work has been a big part of my life for many years.
pp:What plans do you have for the future of PuchiBag?
dz: Right now we are focusing on getting into showrooms. To date we have done all design, sales and marketing ourselves — it's time to get some help! We are also re-designing our backpack this year; it will launch in the fall.
pp:Who are the dog(s) behind the women? Tell us a little about them.
dz: Dede's dog Zulu is a 13 pound Pomeranian who is the most amazing dog. I currently have two indoor cats and no dog as I live in the Hills and there are coyotes.
Zulu is also our mascot and model. I am our photographer, and a while ago I needed to shoot Zulu in a few bags for Spanish Vogue magazine. We tried to squeeze him in a Martini bag and his face was shooting me daggers... soooo funny, as he has the most expressive face of any animal I have ever seen.
pp:And what's Zulu's favourite PuchiBag?
dz: Zulu loves them all as he enjoys being carted around instead of having to walk!
PuchiBags are available online from www.puchibag.com and at many retail stores across the United States and England.