LOCAL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: NIFTY DOGS
Good Foot Delivery is happy to announce March’s edition of the Local Business Spotlight. This month, we are chomping at the bit to share our interview with the founder of Nifty Dogs, Lauren Chu!
While she was fostering dogs, as well as having her own family dog, Lauren was alarmed with the amount of waste being produced by the dog industry. From poop bags, to excessive packaging made out of plastic, to the sheer lack of options, Lauren noticed a gap in the market for products that were not only good for dogs, but for our environment. Nifty Dogs gives pet owners the opportunity to keep the planet in mind while shopping for their pets, with sustainable, upcycled alternatives and near zero-waste options for dog treats, toys and gear.
We talked to Lauren about her motivation for starting her own business, the intersection of animal lovers and earth advocates and her long-term vision for Nifty Dogs.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
LC: Nifty Dogs provides near-zero-waste options for dog treats, toys and gear! More than that, however, it is a community of socially and environmentally conscious people and their pets. We are based in Toronto and donate a portion of our sales to local grassroots organizations and Indigenous-led environmental organizations in Canada. We sell single-ingredient treats, fully compostable poop bags, upcycled toys, and leashes made from used climbing rope.
What motivated you to start your business?
LC: I realized how much plastic and waste (and how little transparency) there was in the dog industry when I started fostering dogs in addition to caring for my own. Everything they needed was plastic: poop bags, treat packaging, toys, crates, and leashes are all typically made of oil-based plastic. Nifty Dogs started as a project that tries to answer a question – can we create truly environmentally and socially conscious products for the dog industry and/or inspire the dog community to be more conscious of their impact?
What is the most challenging part of owning your own business? What’s the most rewarding part?
LC: Having to always be “on” is certainly difficult to carry. I always think I could be doing more, better! Also taking responsibility for the quality of what I make is something I find extremely important but hard to tuck away. The most rewarding part by and above is the community. Finding and connecting with like-minded folks who inspire me to be better, do better, and keep going has been an absolute joy. Some people might think there is no use in “preaching to the choir”, but giving the metaphorical choir, tools and a space to grow, connect, feel empowered and act, is a really amazing thing.
What are your long-term goals and vision for your business? What core values are at the heart of your business?
LC: My goal is for Nifty Dogs to grow to a scale that is sustainable and enjoyable! I do not have big dreams of exponential or even international growth at this time, acknowledging that a great way of reducing our impact is by buying local where possible. I feel lucky that Nifty Dogs is evolving with the help of our community – the only way I want to grow is with the input of the people it is ultimately for. That said, the products are a vehicle for our overall vision: a more socially and environmentally conscious community of dogs and their people
How does Good Foot Delivery fit into the picture?
LC: I’ve been lucky to work with Good Foot in two aspects of Nifty Dogs! Good Foot delivers all of our local Toronto orders – they pick up our packages right from our door and deliver it to our customers with a smile. I am also lucky to work with Good Foot on our Upcycled T-Shirt Tug Toys made from old shirts. After prepping the fabric, I send them to Good Foot where one of their employees turns them into beautiful toys for the dogs to enjoy.
What do you enjoy most about your relationship with Good Foot?
LC: My favourite part about working with Good Foot is how aligned it is with the values we have at Nifty Dogs, and how it allows me to interact with such incredible people. Supporting employment for the neuro-diverse community in Toronto, reducing shipping emissions by delivering by foot/transit, and connecting with another local business are all big bonuses in my books.
How can our followers support your business? How would you like them to get involved?
LC: If you have a dog, do we ever have the things for you!!! In all seriousness, the most helpful and meaningful way to be “involved” whether you have a dog or not is to spread the word and join the conversation. We are most active on Instagram @nifty.dogs and invite you to share that space with us to learn how to be conscious consumers, supportive community members, and advocates for earth-and-people-justice together.Support Nifty Dogs today by visiting their website & using coupon code GOODFOOT to get 10% off your order!
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