According to the Associated Press, we Americans spend nearly $53 billion dollars a year on our beloved pets. That’s good news for Linda Gordon. Her Maryland based online boutique, The Twisted Cow makes handmade dog and cat collars, leashes and accessories.
When you consider Linda’s background, it’s a bit of a surprise that she has chosen to make dog collars. What started it all wasn’t her Masters Degree in Health Care Administration, nor the time she spent as a naval officer. Her Bachelors Degree in Business Administration might have helped her recognized a niche she could fill, but what really inspired her was a trip to her first dog show. Linda said, “Not only was the experience pure nuts but it was a lot of fun too!” It was there that she realized, “dog shows have products you can’t find anywhere else.” After making a few collars for her own two puffy Chow Chow boys, Chester and George (a.k.a. Frick and Frack), she discovered she was pretty darn good at making a unique, crafty pet product. From that point on Linda has sold handmade collars across the country.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking The Twisted Cow just sells dog collars. After spending time talking to Linda, I learned that there’s a high level of fashion to the world of dog shows. Linda takes an ordinary collar and turns it into a show stopping statement that is truly a work of art. Many collars are adorned with beading, crystals, rhinestones and ribbons – pieces Liberace would have been proud to put on his poodle! Linda says she’s always had a knack for design and craftiness and says her focus is on the unique way she chooses to pieces something together. She loves the challenge of manipulating bold, bright, and whimsical fabrics and trims into something beautiful. She adds that making dog collars is easier then making clothing for people, but can also be more complicated. “I’m working with a 3/8” or 5/8” piece of fabric so that can be challenging.” As Linda mentions on her website, after seven years in the business, she is still amazed over her MacGyver-like ability to create something wonderful with a little rickrack, denim, a stick of gum and a paperclip.
Linda is a one-woman show making all the products herself. She purchases all of her supplies here in the United States and spends a lot of time researching where to buy. Even the Swiss velvet used in Linda’s leads and leashes is bought from an American distributor. Her website, twisted-cow.com, has a wide variety of sizes, lengths, designs and colors to choose from. Whether Fido is a jock or a preppy boy you can build his ideal collar in the “calling all dogs” category. And for your little Coco’s prom night there’s the more luxurious “urban symphony” category.
"Stick to your principles, if you have an idea,
figure out a way to make it happen!”
And if you’re looking for a one of a kind item, Linda is always up for the challenge and says,” if a customer wants something completely unique I can create mock ups for them until we get as close to what they envisioned as possible”. And if bling is your thing, The Twisted Cow also has an assortment of collar accessories including charms, bowwow bowties and rhinestone flower blooms to make your pet sparkle as much as their personality.
Linda feels the best part of her job is when an owner puts one of her collars on their dog for the first time. She explained to me that it’s almost like the dogs know they are dressed up and they react with pride. Linda laughs at that idea, but adds that once you own a pet you really see them thinking and sizing things up. Pets have personalities and that’s what she’s designing for. “People want extraordinary stop and stare products.” Linda says owners know their pets well and what they like to wear “many times people will tell me, my dog wears only flowers or only wears green.”
Does she have any advice for up and coming entrepreneurs? Yes. Linda says “stick to your principles, if you have an idea, figure out a way to make it happen!” She also gave some tips on websites. For an online business, make everything accessible within three clicks. This allows your customer the ability to shop quickly and efficiently. When I asked Linda about the title of her business, she said a chocolate and vanilla swirled ice cream cone inspired it. It may not relate to the product, but she says people never forget it.
For the 2014 product line Linda is going “back to her southern roots”, where dressing up meant elegance. She fondly talked about the women in her family with their big fancy hats adorned with fluffery, ribbons, feathers and birds. Linda reveals her next year’s line will have bold, decadent pieces that are both sassy and graceful. I then asked her if she had a favorite piece from her current line. “The Urban Symphony line is really where I expressed myself. My pride and joy is Crown Jewels Swarovski Dog Collar, my second favorite is The Aristocrat Silk Rhinestone Dog Collar.”
During my interview with Linda, her warm, charismatic personality was evident. When people love what they do it shows. No wonder her business is so doggone successful. We both agree that animals makes us better people and maybe it’s their unconditional love that makes us want to do for them. Linda adds, “owning a pet is wonderful, but having a pampered pet is just the bee’s knees”. So if you’re tired of the same old collar selection at the local pet store and want an eye catching one of a kind gift to please your pet, visit twisted-cow.com. With as much fun as you’ll have picking out a perfect collar, the question becomes who enjoys a The Twisted Cow product more, the pet or the owner?
Credits // Author: Wendi Wendt - Photos Provided By: The Twisted Cow