- What was your inspiration for starting Barley & Co.?
We had rescued our chi-weenie (Barley) with a multitude of issues. She was extremely anxious and constantly frightened. We never got a clear story on her background but severe abuse was definitely present in her life before we found her. We weren’t looking to bring home a dog that day either. But after seeing her face peaking through the kennel gate and howling at us as we went out of view, we had to have her.
After signing her adoption papers, we were handed this blue plastic rope noose like leash to take her from the kennel to our home. She hated the leash and fought the entire way to the car until we took it off. It struck both Thomas and I’s mind that this is not how our new baby deserves to start off her new journey with us.
We are both extremely entrepreneurial and work within the small business and start up community and after a few weeks of letting this idea fester we decided to start a supplies brand but with a twist. For every item we sold, we would donate one to a shelter or foundation. We would donate the exact same style of item, unlike others who may substitute for a lesser quality item or have volume requirements. If we sell 1, we will donate 1. This way when a dog gets that second chance that so many deserve, they start it off right with a high-quality item the new owner can keep and take home.
- How did you get started once you had decided to start the company?
We are very impulsive people. When we have an idea it’s extremely hard not to start mapping it out right away. I started off by researching different collar designs and getting a feel on how we would design ours. We wanted to make it as unique as possible without throwing the traditional collar style to the side. So I grabbed the sketchbook and started mocking up collars very quickly.
It was only a few days later that we were sourcing our materials. We made it a point that our materials would be sourced locally if possible. Supporting local businesses is so huge for both of us so we were glad to have the ability to do that with Barley&Co. We truly are an ideal team. I love to work with my hands and get creative and he’s amazing at the business side of things. We can both improvise on either side of the company but it’s great having someone who has strengths where the other has weaknesses.
- What is the favorite moment to date?
For sure when we finished our first collar. I’ve worked with many different fabrics before but leather was new for me. We did a ton of research and probably watched 100+ videos haha. Since then, every time a collar is finished a boost of confidence just rushes over us. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my work, even more so when it’s something that I am very passionate about. We also love how much support and encouragement we’ve received prior and after our launch. It’s been amazing to see how close this community is and we are excited to be a part of it.
- What are the future plans for Barley & Co.?
Ah, so many! We have some really big plans for Barley&Co. Right now we are working hard to get some new designs out and have some new fabric patterns we are working with that we think everyone will really enjoy. We are putting the finishing touches on our leash design so that we can launch them shortly. We can’t wait to be able to start flooding our partners with donations. They are such wonderful people that we just can’t wait to start helping as much as we can. Also in the pipeline are plans to produce beds, toys and even some hygiene products.
We are also expanding our donation list very rapidly. We’ve been talking with some wonderful foundations and see that not only do they need hard goods donated like collars and leashes but many are also in great need for quality food and toys. We are working out how we will do that and will make an announcement when that’s finalized.
- If you were not running Barley & Co., what would you be doing today?
We both have day jobs that we work and we work Barley&Co at night and on weekends. We really don’t ever stop working. We’ve had many 2 AM nights in front of our sewing machines and to be honest. We hope those nights never end.
Check out more of what Barley & Co. does here