Found My Animal
By Sarah Cook
Of course tagging along with the pooches were Bethany Obrecht and Anna Conway, who happened to meet while walking their respective Walters. They discovered they were both passionate about animals and animal welfare, and Anna happened to be using this really cool leash she’d made from nautical rope. An idea was born—maybe they could take this leash, their mutual passion for rescuing pets, and somehow help animals?
After starting Found My Animal in 2007, it fell to Bethany to figure out how they could sell these leashes and actually build a business. She already had a career as a freelance prop and wardrobe stylist, backed up by a degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design (hey, not too shabby!). Working out of her apartment nights or whenever she didn’t have a shoot to attend, Bethany managed to hit up a bunch of her pals in the prop stylist world for product placement, and was fortunate enough to get some serious support from a variety of magazines, blogs, and celebrities (woo!).
One addition Bethany and Anna made to the original leash was a brass tag stamped with the word “Found” and a number, starting at “1” (as good a place to start as any!). Each tag highlights the need for adoption and rescue by representing a “found” animal, a pet rescued from a shelter or similar. It’s a perfect symbol of the brand’s mission to promote the fact that every pet deserves a home.
Eventually, Anna peeled out of the business to focus on her artist career and Bethany soon had two sons. Bethany remembers a turning point while talking with her mom about what to do. She realized that Found My Animal was what she wanted to do with her life; there was nothing else like it, and she believed she could make something of it. Her mom’s response? “Go for it!”
So Bethany made the decision to step away from her stylist career and focus on Found My Animal full-time. Her first official workspace was a “super-crappy” tiny studio with no windows. “It felt like being in an airplane,” Bethany recalls. Now operating out of a great studio in Brooklyn, NY, with lots of light and a view of Manhattan, Bethany manages a team of folks who hand-dye, sew, assemble, produce, package, warehouse, sell, ship, and you-name-it. Every single product is hand-made out of that space.
Not that there haven’t been any bumps in the road. Like, how about the time when their shipment of product packaging was lost just before having to fulfill a huge order? The packaging showed up with two days to spare and they worked for 48 hours straight to get the order out the door on time. Or how about when her brother-in-law spilled a gallon of paint all over 500 hand-dyed leashes? We’re pretty sure he’ll never live that down, by the way.
What makes it all worth it? Bethany loves her job and wants to get up and go to work everyday. Found My Animal is part of her, and she is way beyond proud of how far they’ve come. She’s creatively challenged, not bored, and most importantly, feels good about what she’s doing. Gee, we should all experience something like this!
Her words of advice? Start with an idea. Even if it’s crazy, if you believe in it and can convince the world that it’s good and going to help something or someone, then you stand a chance of making a go of it. That’s what happened with Found My Animal—Anna and Bethany started with one leash and the idea of raising awareness for rescue dogs. It was hard convincing people that the leash and its brass tag made sense as a symbol of why it’s important to rescue and adopt. But know what the brass tag number is up to these days? Over 40,000! Now that’s doggone awesome!
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