Developing the collar slip
In this blog post, I thought I'd share the trials and tribulations related to product development.
If you're like me, your dog should probably have their own closet. From jackets and coats to harnesses, packs, bandannas, scarves, and then camping and hiking supplies, our pup has a lot of stuff. The one thing she has the most of is collars. I'm not talking about one collar from when she was a puppy and then another collar for when she grew out of that collar. I'm talking about a collar for swimming, a summer collar, a fancy leather collar, an everyday leather collar, a different patterned collar from her summer collar that doesn't look so summer-ish and so forth.
I asked Faya to model her collar collection and since I hold the treats, she complied.
Does a dog need all of those collars? Probably not. But do you have just one pair of shoes? Heck no. (I might have a ridiculous number of shoes but that's for another day). It's fun to have seasonal prints or collars for different purposes and let's be honest, a solid color collar can be a little boring. There's clearly a need, but what do you do when BioThane is predominantly created in solids? You develop collar wraps.
I wanted a way for dogs to show off their personalities or for their owners to change things up a bit. But, I also wanted to stay true to our brand with durable, easy-to-care for products.
I started with fun prints in outdoor fabric. You know, the type of fabric that patio chair pillows and cushions are made out of. This approach served the purpose of durability and also met the need for patterns. I made a sleeve that the collar could slip into.
But I wasn't satisfied. The cover looked like something a not-very-good sewer put together as a home ec project. Maybe I'm being hard on myself, but I'm kind of a perfectionist and it wasn't accurately reflecting what I wanted to offer.
Then I had the idea to use cotton canvas and jacquard ribbon. Canvas is a durable fabric that's machine washable, so that fit the bill. Jacquard ribbon is a lot nicer than grosgrain ribbon. Jacquard ribbon is woven whereas grosgrain is typically ribbed and has printing on it. I then made a sleeve for the collar with this approach.
Now we're getting somewhere. But still not quite right. I could make one or two, but this approach wasn't going to work to scale. It would take ages to make this. I also felt it was a little bulky and I worried the fabric might fade over time.
I also needed a better way to secure the wrap around the collar. I considered Velcro, which would also allow me to offer collar wraps for martingale collars (win!), but that felt a little cheap. Plus, how would Velcro hold up and how would that work with dog fur?
I exchanged some messages with my friend, Anne (Ford and Bentley's mom), who is so amazing for brainstorming. Between the two of us, I decided to look into snaps. I'd never applied snaps before, but I'm very rarely deterred from figuring things out.
I went back to the outdoor fabric approach as I like that it's fade resistant and a lighter weight/not as bulky as canvas. This time, I incorporated snaps so that you could either slide the collar in and out OR wrap and secure it around side-release and martingale collars.
But on the collar, it's bulky. I tried smaller snaps, but same sort of issue.
I figured I'd focus on a design that would work with our traditional buckle collar for now.
I'm proud of how the collar slips have turned out and love the idea of being able to have just one or two collars with unlimited looks by swapping out the slips. The fabric is waterproof (though the ribbon isn't) and the slip can be spot cleaned or even tossed into the washing machine if it gets dirty.
Depending on appeal/demand, I'll revisit the design for martingale and slip collars. I have a feeling those snaps are going to come in handy.