IT ALL STARTED WITH HILDY.
At the very end of 2008, I decided it was time to finally get a dog of my very own.
I found Hildy—a sweet little Frenchie puppy, born somewhere near the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
She totally changed my life. Not just because any stubborn, silly, sweet bulldog (or any breed, for that matter) changes your life, but because she was born terminally ill. I was determined to fit 12 years into the 2 or 3 that she'd probably have. It was a heartbreaking few years, but I don't regret one second of it.
Hildy was born with kidney failure. She was always cold. And I found that fitting her for coats and sweaters was not easy. They were usually expensive and cheaply made, and none of them really accounted for her barrel-like chest and wide shoulders. It was a constant frustration.
Around the time that Enzo joined our family, I decided it was time to make some of their items myself. I wanted snuggly coats for them that went on easily and were constructed well. Fabrics made from higher-quality materials (like Polartec) and prints that expressed each dog's unique personality. I wanted fun collars that captured their senses of humor. I wanted accessories for them that weren't tacky—just fun and functional.
Hildy passed in 2011. I see her in Enzo everyday (they had the same mother), and together, Enzo and I are out to make a better line of products just for hard-to-fit dogs—like Frenchies. And for all dogs who go "snorf."
How Warm Ears Became a Business
At the end of 2013, meteorologists were freaking out about this thing called a "Polar Vortex." They warned that it would be SO cold that anyone going outside should try not to have any skin exposed to the extreme temperatures.
So, naturally, I worried about my Enzo. Like all Frenchies, the membranes on his bat ears are thin and not very hairy (like a Husky's), so I worried about his ears being overexposed. On a whim, I whipped up the first BatHat. I posted it to Instagram and people loved it. I then developed the BatHat Sport and BatHat Hoodie early in 2014, and both were also a hit. So, I applied for a patent on my ear design.
My goal never was to create adorable junk that people would buy on a whim and then toss aside. I wanted these items to be "(fun)ctional" -- as fun as they were utilitarian. I focused on using Polartec textiles, the plushest, highest-quality fleeces made in the US.
Orders started pouring in and I realized I couldn't maintain a full-time career in advertising AND sew into the wee hours of the night. So, I made a plan: I left my job in advertising (a tough decision), focused on custom product fulfillment, and began planning my Kickstarter campaign. By raising funds through a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter, my goal was to start producing Snorf Industries' products on a larger scale.
Not only was the campaign a success -- raising 125% of our goal, but it was also selected as a Staff Pick by Kickstarter. (Inc. Magazine calls being a Staff Pick the "holy grail" of crowdfunding.) And we were profiled on Boston.com -- a digital subsidiary of the Boston Globe. A veterinarian even promoted our products, explaining how Frenchie's ears are susceptible to frostbite in bitter conditions.
We hit a few snags with our first factory production, but I learned a lot. Now, our production is all Made in the USA -- with production exclusively in Brooklyn, NY and New Hampshire. And since most of our fabrics are produced in the US, our products are really, really American-made!
We've also done our best to support rescue dogs and rescue organizations along the way. Many purebred dogs are purchased from breeders and spoiled from the moment they get home. We don't want to forget about the babies who don't have such a lucky lot in life.
Thank you for all your support. We love the Snorf Dog community -- and all the humans who have made this journey possible.