Jo Sherwood Design creates masterpieces for canine dining with elegance by Angie McKaig
Let's face it, dog bowls are a part of our lives. They're part of our home. But it just isn't easy to find pet bowls that are elegant enough to fit with our decor but practical enough to be used every day for our pets.
As her web site states, Jo Sherwood created her Dinnerware Designs because she loves her pets as much as you love yours. Jo appreciates life's luxuries and she believes that her beloved pets should enjoy them too. Drawing on classic and timeless designs for inspiration, Jo Sherwood includes styles to fit your taste and mood. Whether you are looking for simple elegance or playful excitement, Jo's unique dishes will enliven your home and enhance your pet's space.
We recently spoke to the designer, Susan Jo Sherwood, about her company and products.
pp: What made you decide to start Jo Sherwood Design??
sjs: For many years I had been feeding my dogs from bowls that were unusual and decorative. I began asking why pet bowls had to look like... well... pet bowls. Couldn't they be attractive and fit into the decor of the pet owner in both color and style?
At the same time I was working with my husband in his lighting business, www.nulcolighting.com, and its design elements and decorative components kept enticing me to develop products for my favorite furry friends. I tried to fit more lighting parts than you can imagine into a bowl design. It was also a plus that we had vendors worldwide, a showroom in the Dallas Trade Mart and contacts in the gift market that I could draw from.
pp: How many years have you been designing products for dogs?
sjs: Before launching our product line in January 2003 we had been working for at least two years on ideas, designs, materials, vendors... every idea takes a great deal of time to come to fruition. This first year has been one of learning, tweaking, change, but we are excited about the positive reception of our designs.
pp: Are your product lines carried only in the US, or they available worldwide?
sjs: At the present time we are in the US only, but we have had inquiries from England, Singapore, Japan and Canada, and so 2004 should be exciting. We have business contacts in many parts of the world to introduce our designs to.
pp: What's your design background?
sjs: My background is really in marketing and sales, but always with a love for design and interior decor. I have been fortunate to be able to draw upon the designers, engineers, photographers, and graphics expertise from our lighting company, and these talented people enjoy the diversion of fun pet products.
pp: How do you come up with the designs?
sjs: Our Civilized Pet Collection is primarily for the toy, and medium sized dog and cats, whereas the Best In Show is for both small and large dogs. The shape and components of the bowls was extremely important and took a long time to develop and perfect. And then, of course, the color choices had to be universal in appeal. We want pet owners to be proud to have our products in their home and not hide the pet dish when they have guests. Instead, we want our designs to be the topic of conversation.
The hand painted Best In Show breed medallions took months and months to perfect and each one has its own personality. I have the Lhasa apso bowl in my home for Genghis Kahn and it makes me smile whenever I look at it - - which is what it is supposed to do.
pp: What influences your design choices?
sjs: We are influenced by so many things from color, whimsy, safety, practicality... We want a line that is broad enough to beautify most any decor and make feeding the pet fun. We know that the pet doesn't care what the bowl looks like, but we want the pet owner to be pleased by the design in their home. And, we are definitely influenced by a constant need to produce a quality product.
pp: Your most popular product?
sjs: Our most popular design has been the deep red Mandarin pattern in The Civilized Pet Collection. I think it is the simplicity of the vibrant red design with one black square that makes it attractive to pet owners because it is both elegant and playful.
The Civilized Pet Collection has eleven colorful patterns, and each pattern comes in five bowl shapes. So there really is something for everyone and for every decor. Many of our designs are also purchased for human use because they are so versatile, and this is what we intended during the design process.
pp: Your personal favourite?
sjs: In The Civilized Pet Collection I like Bianco for its clean lines and very elegant look. Photography just does not show the beauty of this creamy white pattern with clear swirls.
My other personal favourite is the Pet Flute. This is one of our newest designs and soon to be on our website and the market. The Flute is a 6 3/4" high unique water dish that stands upright in an antique black and gold metal stand and keeps those long ears from floating. Cats seem naturally drawn to it too. It's especially pleasing in a separate water setting, such as a bathroom. It is a completely new way of thinking for serving water, and creates surprise reactions when you reveal its use. My dogs, large and small, have been drinking out of this type of design for years.
pp: What's the most rewarding part of running Jo Sherwood Design?
sjs: Creation of new designs and new product is the most rewarding. It might also be the easiest because the actual steps to get the designs produced and in the market are the most strenuous and time consuming.
pp: Why do you think there has been such an increase in demand for luxury dog products over the last ten years?
sjs: I believe that two things have influenced the increase in luxury dog products. Fine design has increased and reached into so many parts of our daily lives at home, in the office, and we are all much more attune to surrounding ourselves with what pleases us. Add to that design element the baby boomers whose baby is now their loved and pampered pet and you have a vast demand for new and different dog products.
pp: What plans do you have for the future of Jo Sherwood Design?
sjs: We are excited about expanding our business with broader sales representation and distribution, and think that our new booth in the New York International Gift Fair in February should be a plus. For the internet, we are continuing to develop our website because we began the company with an emphasis on print material and not the website and more needs to be done. Our Jo Sherwood Design whimsical catalog won a Silver Addy Award, much to our delight.
pp: Could you share a story with us about your dog(s)?
sjs: Dogs have always been a part of my life and always will, but for most of my life it was one dog at a time. Then for nine years my husband and I had three dogs, which were indeed a loving handful. Bringing the third dog into the pack though turned out to be quite a jolt after Genghis Kahn Warlock Ling Lang, our charcoal gray Lhasa apso, was adopted at age four from the local shelter. We did not know at the time that he had been abused and in at least two different homes before us. He was pretty docile for a couple of weeks until he got his bearings, and then his complete alpha personality and difficult streak became evident disrupting everyone.
Our other sweet blonde Lhasa apso, Glympton, and large black lab mix, Walter, were beginning to be tormented and this is where I learned how dogs determine their pecking order to select the head of the pack. It took about six months before Glympton, sweetie pea loving blonde Glympton, took control of protecting Walter, and putting Genghis in his place. I was dismayed about Glympton's personality change, but he remained loving to us. Glympton, the love of my life, has since died of cancer at age eight, gentle Walter passed away at sixteen, and we now have a thirteen year-old, and much mellower Genghis who loves the limelight alone. If you visit our website you will see Genghis on the Home page and lounging on his favorite chair in the Our Pets section.
For more information on Jo Sherwood Designs, visit www.josherwooddesigns.com.