Fidose of Reality is proud to present a 10-part series entitled, Pawer Women. We are focusing on successful business women who are in some way involved with dogs and making a difference. Maybe you’ve considered a career related to dogs but aren’t sure where to start, need some encouragement, resources or just a paw in the right direction. For those involved in the business world, allow these “paw-er” women to inspire future successes.
We kick off the series with Abby Kass, founder of Les Pets en Voyage. I became a fan of Abby’s not long after writing a piece for a dog magazine called, “Bark is the New Black.” Did you know the Fashion Institute of New York has a program in Pet Fashions? Abby enrolled, has launched her own line and is here to share the scoop with Fidose of Reality.
Fidose of Reality: Tell us a bit about the company and why you started Les Pets en Voyage.
Abby Kass: I am a born shopper, and when I’ve traveled, whether in this country or abroad, I have always sought out cool souvenirs. During my first visit to London more than 20 years ago I looked forward to going to Harrods, where I heard there was a great dog department. I wanted to get a souvenir from London for my family’s Schnauzer. The department was indeed extensive, but there was nothing that shouted “London.”
I had the revelation that there should be a company that created souvenirs just for pets. The lack of real pet souvenirs reinforced my desire to start the company, Les Pets en Voyage®. Les Pets en Voyage say “bon voyage” and enjoy souvenirs from travels with and/or by their favorite humans!
Fidose of Reality: Where did you learn to do pet fashions? I picture Tim Gunn and Project Runaway!
Abby Kass: My background is actually in Arts Education, so I simply had no idea how I would manufacture anything. I reluctantly convinced myself it would always just be a dream (to design pet fashions). In 2009, I obtained a copy of the Continuing Education catalog from Fashion Institute of New York. I saw a 4-session class about bringing your pet product to market. I decided to take it. It was almost one of those “a-ha” moments where I thought that maybe I was just meant to see that class! When I shared my concept with the class there was so much enthusiasm for it that it motivated me to learn more and actively pursue the dream. I discovered that there was a certificate program in pet product design and marketing and immediately committed to it.
Fidose of Reality: Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun as well as educational. Was it hands on, helpful and all you wanted it to be?
Abby Kass: Yes! This is a great program because if offers information and hands-on opportunities to develop your ideas. There are required courses in apparel and accessory design, as well as in marketing and branding. Then, there are electives ranging from pattern making for dog garments to legal basics for starting a business. You learn technical information about creating items for various breeds, explore strategies for packaging and presentation, and create business and marketing plans. Also, the program provides a forum for brainstorming among other people who share the knowledge and passion for the pet industry. Since you are actually completing projects, you stay focused on your goals and really think through your vision.
Fidose of Reality: Did you get to do any hands, er paws, on pet fashion shows?
Abby Kass: A very fun aspect of the program is participating in the annual Pet Fashion Show at FIT. It’s a real runway show featuring the work of students in the program and it is so exciting to see your own products on the “catwalk”. I happened to have my NYC Rain Poncho and Pouch-in-One modeled by the cutest toy Schnauzer! It was a coincidence, but as a “Schnauzer person” I was absolutely thrilled!
Fidose of Reality: So where did the path take you?
Abby Kass: I received my certificate in June. I was also very fortunate that one of my professors, Kris Lynch, really believed in me and my concept of travel souvenirs for pets, and she provided a lot of guidance from design through production. Also, Deborah David and Janet Brav, who co-facilitate the program, have been extremely helpful to and supportive of me. (After all, that’s how I was introduced to you!)
Fidose of Reality: Where can folks learn more if they are interested in FIYNY and your products?
Abby Kass: Anyone interested in the program can visit FIT’s website at http://www.fitnyc.edu/3185.asp.
Thanks for being our introductory paw-er woman to the series, Abby, and we wish you and your fabulous line well.
To show you how dreams can come to fruition, I also featured Abby’s line on a recent television segment, Pet Talk with Lauren Collier. Scroll on up to position 4:22 of this video. If you have questions for Abby, feel free to ask them here and we’ll be sure Abby gets back to you.