Our story is very similar to a lot of small businesses in that we started Dog Not Gone as a small venture and thought of it as an extra income. But with hard work and some luck, we have brought it into a whole new level.
I started the company by sewing our Safety Dog Vests in the loft of my house on my Singer machine and selling them at craft and artisan fairs. Our first break came when a friend was hunting with the Buyer from LL Bean who recognized the high quality of the vest. That combined with it being Made in Maine landed us a deal with this national retailer.
Once we started selling them on a wholesale level, we contracted one of the last stitching factories in Maine (and the country!) and slowly grew our business one customer at a time. Two years ago, my husband and I quit our day jobs, wrote a business plan, took out a SBA loan and started marketing our business on a national level. As a result, we have grown our product line, signed up with a Distributor and are selling our products nationwide and in Canada.
Things took a turn when last year, the owner of our stitching factory told us he was retiring and closing the doors to the business. We were in the process of launching our new Tick Repellent Dog Products and this news came as a big blow. After much discussion, we decided we did not want to work with factories in China to make our products. We felt that part of the mission of our business was Made in USA and could not compromise this value. So, we spent the better part of the past year obtaining financing to buy the business and are now the proud owners of Maine Stitching Specialties.
Dog Not Gone and Maine Stitching Specialties now employ 17 people in Somerset and Franklin County. We manufacture products not only for our own company for many others. Products range from our Tick Repellent Dog Vests and accessories to custom made draperies and cubicle curtains.
Made in America is a movement to restore and maintain the long-term economic prosperity of our country by promoting and facilitating the practice of buying American. In Maine alone, 975% of employers are small businesses and employ 58.7% of the private sector labor force.
We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be part of this movement and work not only to support our family but to help support our communities and country. It is a fact that if we did not purchase the stitching business, 10 people would have been out of a job. Knowledge of this result of our efforts along with keeping our dog products Made in USA has given us the drive needed with this expansion.
If you would like to be part of the Made in USA movement and support our efforts, you can go to our crowdfunding project at http://igg.me/at/dognotgone. We have many rewards in return for your support that include (but not limited to) a reflective kerchief for your dog, dog walkers package to donating a tick repellent dog vest to a Search & Rescue group.
I thank you for taking your time to read about our story. Before embarking on this journey with our business ventures, I did not realize the impact of spending my dollars on a less expensive item made in China over the American made item. After many years of manufacturing moving overseas, we can now see the impact of the loss of these jobs. Your buying dollars DO have an impact. We thank you for your support and say God Bless America.