Welcome to Episode 46: Creating a Safer Dog Harness with Marilyn Pianelli of Headlight Harness. We’re diving into some product development and manufacturing talk. Do you have a dog product somewhere in your imagination that you’d like to make a reality? This interview will help you figure out how to do that. We also talk about the importance of being available for your customers – whether that’s by DM, email or phone – communication is an important part of entrepreneurship!
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Creating a Safer Dog Harness
Marilyn Pianelli has spent many successful years in finance and sales and is now enthusiastic about her most recent venture as an entrepreneur in the pet industry. Marilyn is currently the Director of Broker Dealer and Institutional Sales at Alternative Executions, while pursuing her brand Headlight Harness – an innovative and game-changing product for pet owners. Based in New Jersey, Marilyn and her husband Peter originally created their light up harness for their own dogs, but it quickly became apparent that it filled a giant void in the pet industry. On every walk, she would be stopped by people asking where they could get a Headlight Harness of their own. Now it’s illuminating dog walks around the country.
(00:29) Participate in the February contest – leave a review and one lucky winner will get a $50 gift card
(02:18) Introducing Marilyn Pianelli of Headlight Harness
(07:20) Learn what Marilyn’s husband suggest be their first product
(11:08) Hear Marilyn’s process of creating a product and getting it to market
(12:23) How to find great manufacturers
(16:15) How Marilyn got the word out on social media about the harnesses
(20:38) Get to know Marilyn’s dog, Mo
(22:42) Find out some productivity tips
(27:52) Where to find Marilyn Pianelli of Headlight Harness
TORI: How did you come up with the idea to invent the Headlight Harness?
Marilyn: It was actually my husband who came up with it. We were looking for something to make ourselves. We looked everywhere for a harness that my dog can’t get out of with a LED light and I was like, oh, there definitely has to be something out there. There’s nothing out there. So the first harness my husband made was very interesting, but it was so bright. As we kept going through the process, we kept adding things like the handle in the back. Then we wanted to make it with a handle that you could use in the car as well. So we kept adding more and more stuff to the harness until we found that this is the perfect one that we wanted to make for other people to use.
TORI: How do you develop a product like this?
Marilyn: We obviously had to make a bunch of different sizes ourselves. Then we looked for a manufacturer and that took a long time. Each manufacturer is different and is good at certain things. We needed a manufacturer who could make the quantities that we wanted in the time we wanted. And then you go back and forth with the designs. It’s not, “Oh, here’s our prototype.” It took a really long time to go back and keep adding what we wanted. We’re probably in the third different kind of harness. We keep upgrading it and wanting to make it the best. And I think this last one was definitely the final version.
TORI: What are some of the special features in the Headlight Harness?
Marilyn: Well, it’s a dog or cat harness with an LED light that’s integrated into the chest. It also has four points of adjustability so once your dog is fitted correctly they can’t get out of it. That addresses a big problem for a lot of people. It’s also reflective all around so no matter which way you’re standing, a car could always see you. The light also scares away animals like possums, raccoons, skunks – any small animal. It has two places to put your leashes in the front end and in the back. Also, the handle in the back can help your dog have a safe, enjoyable car ride using a seatbelt.
TORI: What are your favorite tools or resources you use to run your business?
Marilyn: I try to make a list – these are the things I need to get done today. These are the things that if I don’t finish them maybe I can tomorrow. Some people like to create their lists on Sunday, or have a board that says these are my goals for the week and try to get those done. Definitely just try to stay productive. Don’t get in that rut of well… I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow. Just get it done when you can.
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