Dog is Good
Jon and Gila Kurtz
Los Alamitos, CA
Jon Kurtz, an active duty U.S. Navy captain, and his wife, Gila, a professional dog trainer, had always want to own their own business. In 2008, they began designing and selling dog-themed apparel at small retail events such as charity dog walks and fundraisers in Orange and Los Angeles counties.
Dog Is Good’s designs were immediately popular, and to meet increasing demand, the couple broadened their distribution to retail stores. However, they needed guidance in how to market their growing business. In 2009, Gila met SCORE Mentor Tom Patty at a local networking event, and he began mentoring the Kurtzes.
Using examples of famous brands, Patty explained how a company’s marketing should create an emotional attachment to attract and keep customers. The Kurtzes coined (and trademarked) their goal of “delivering dovergnügen”--the great feeling dog owners get from being with their dogs.
“Tom is like a Kung Fu master--he doesn’t directly give you the answer you’re searching for, but provides you with the tools so you can find it yourself,” says Gila. “Tom showed us that our brand was about an emotional message, not a product. Once we got clear on that, we were able to create a brand that really resonates with dog lovers.”
SCORE also put together an advisory board that has helped Dog Is Good with social media and email marketing. “They suggested we send out shorter emails more frequently,” explains Jon. “This makes emails easier to create and puts us in front of our email list more often.” Jon also participates in the CEO Forum, a monthly meeting of 10 to 12 business owners held by SCORE OC. “I’ve learned so much from the other small business owners,” he says.
By the end of 2009, Dog Is Good’s revenues had nearly quadrupled compared to the previous year. Sales have continued to rise every year since; in 2013, the couple project an increase of 15 percent.
In 2012, the Kurtzes, who sell retail, wholesale and also license their products, expanded to include “Cat is Good” and “Horse is Good” apparel lines. Going forward, Jon says, “We continue to look for opportunities to grow. We’re going to keep expanding our licensing program and broadening our distribution. We’re also going to focus on selling to more multi-unit stores.” Ultimately, the couple hopes to launch Dog Is Good lifestyle stores. Along the way, they’ll continue turning to SCORE for guidance.
“I have been incredibly impressed with the commitment and genuine desire to help from everybody I’ve encountered at SCORE,” says Gila. “The [Mentors] have all been successful in business, and the fact that they give so willingly of their time and knowledge is truly impressive.”
Mass Mutual is not associated with, and does not endorse, the business featured.