Welcome to Wear Wag Repeat Podcast Episode 34: Jen Fox of BumbleBee Pet Co saw an opportunity to apply her sewing and design problem solving skills to the pet industry. Her brand new start up is focused on creating products based around making the dog walk a better experience. We discuss how she and her co-founder (who’s also her brother) found a local manufacturer who gives back to the community. If you’re a maker or just curious about design, you’ll love this interview!
Jen Fox is co-owner of Bumblebee Pet Company, a newly-launched brand that creates dog gear designed to take the hassle out of the everyday dog walk. Jen began the company with her brother, Erick, after wanting to start a business together that reflected their interests and values, and their mutual love of dogs quickly rose to the top of the list, along with the desire to positively impact the community in which they live.
To manufacture their products, Bumblebee Pet Company works with manufacturers who are contributing to the economy in their city of Albuquerque, New Mexico by providing stable jobs at a living wage. Jen and Erick also give back a portion of their profits to animal rescue organizations, such as Animal Humane New Mexico.
Bumblebee Pet Company is more than just a place to buy cool gear for dog walking – it’s a business dedicated to creating a positive impact in the community with a commitment to local manufacturing.
(00:30) Introducing Jen Fox of BumbleBee Pet Company
(01:22) What BumbleBee Pet Company is all about
(03:14) What in Jen’s background helped her create her company
(05:55) Why Jen decided to outsource manufacturing
(07:37) How Jen chose her manufacturer
(11:30) How to get over burnout
(13:49) What experience she’s gained from starting BumbleBee Pet Company
(15:41) How Jen created paw balm
(17:54) Why Jen is passionate about the dog walking niche
(19:18) Jen shares about her two pups
(23:05) What it’s like to work with a sibling
Tori: What made you get into the pet products industry – what about your background led you here?
Jen: It’s been a long and winding road. My professional background is interior design within architecture firms. More recently with the BumbleBee Pet Company, I’ve taken this my innate love for design and the desire to figure things out to test the waters. It was natural to do something with sewing since I could personally make prototypes to get out there and see what people responded to.
Tori: What led you to decide to outsource manufacturing?
Jen: It became very tedious to make all the products and it wasn’t why I wanted to start this business. I wanted to start this business to design solutions, not crunched over my sewing machine. I could just feel myself becoming frustrated doing all of these tasks myself and was quickly approaching burnout. I wanted to transition that responsibility to someone else who frankly, is probably better equipped to do it. They have all the machines and the manpower to do it. So I just decided that that was a task that I could clearly outsourced to someone else.
Tori: How do you choose who to work with in terms of manufacturers?
Erin: From the beginning, we knew we wanted to make it domestically because we really wanted face to face contact and tour the facility. We also wanted lower minimums and shipping lead times. But then we realized we really wanted to impact our own community in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a very poor state. So we started out asking for personal recommendations .We are really excited about the manufacturers we chose not only because they are local but because they have a social mission.
Tori: Why did you choose a niche focusing on the dog walk specifically?
Jen: So we decided that the dog walking is dedicated time spent with your dog and it’s quite literally about the journey. So it’s a way that you experience a bond with your dog day after day. If we could do anything to streamline the process or make it more convenient, then we were really excited about doing that. That’s what we set out to do.
Tori: Do you have any advice on avoiding burnout?
Jen: It’s just taking an honest look and recognizing that I am a type A personality – a perfectionist. I work really hard and often overwork and that’s just part of my nature and part of what I’ve always done. So for me it’s about trying to even set personal boundaries for myself. It’s like keeping set hours and not letting distractions encroach into those hours. It wasn’t a thing to just persevere through because sometimes there are challenges that you just need to keep going and work through. While sometimes there’s a clear sign to stop and assess what’s going on.
Tori: Tell me about your dogs and how they came into your life.
Jen: So Harvey is Eric’s dog. Harvey just turned 12, but my brother rescued him at 2. And to be honest, I’m having a hard time remembering the exact story. But Harvey as a total goofball, I mean he acts like he is three years old. My dog is Piper who is 4 years old. I got her at Animal Humane New Mexico 3 years ago.
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