By Andrea Pineda-Salgado
Gone to the Dogs may seem like an ordinary pet store, but each product sold has a story. Months into the pandemic, the pet shop launched online in June 2020. In October, a brick and mortar store opened in Park Slope. Owners Santos Agustin and Jennifer Wong pride themselves in knowing how all of their products were made, who made them and with what materials.
Agustin and Wong are longtime friends who met in 2007, working in children’s fashion. The experience made them realize that clothing was often made in a way that is toxic to the environment — not to mention horrible working conditions. Shortly after meeting, in the late-2000s, Agustin left the trade and began taking a sustainable and ethical approach toward design, while Wong went to work with female artisans around the world.
We knew that we could do better,” Agustin says, “and at the same time, we knew we wanted to make products that we loved and it just so happens that we love our dogs.”
After more than 10 years of working separately, they combined their expertise and experience to launch Gone to the Dogs. The store sells everything for the pampered pooch, including apparel, toys, leashes and collars. Atypical of the average pet store, customers can find out the origin of their product and they may even be able to find out who made it.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” Agustin says. “I don’t know if you can say that about any other store. We know the people who make our product. We have spoken to them. We have relationships with them. So in terms of putting a face to a name, we can say we know who made your stuff, and we know them on a first name basis.”
Not only do they know who makes the products but they also aim to make their products out of reused materials. For example, their new collection of leashes are made out of reclaimed rock climbing ropes from local gyms. A portion of those proceeds goes to local animal shelters.
“Just like our ropes, we have a lot of bandanas and bow ties that are made out of reclaimed materials. We also have our toys, which are handmade out of New Zealand sheep’s wool. We put a lot of thought and effort in terms of the make of our products,” says Agustin. “Our sweaters are either hand-knit or hand-crocheted by our Peruvian artisans and made out of alpaca. Our baskets, which are semi-new products, are handwoven by artisans in Ghana. Our beds are made out of reclaimed sheep’s wool blankets and we repurpose them as dog pillows and those are made by our artisans in Peru.”
When we said pampered, we meant it.
Rachel Walken, a Gone to the Dogs customer who was there attending a “learn to felt” workshop, says she supports the store’s mission and understands the importance of being aware of what you buy.
“Many people are so quick to buy off of Amazon and don’t know how damaging that is for small businesses and the people who actually make products, not big-box retailers,” she says. “I think it’s really important to know exactly what you’re buying and where you’re buying it from and who you’re supporting because behind every product there is a small business. I much prefer to buy locally and like directly from creators.”
Not only do Agustin and Wong know who makes their products, but they can assure customers that the artisans are paid fairly and work under humane conditions.
“We’ve visited around 90% of our artisans and have been to their workshops and have vetted all of them. [I have evaluated] their working conditions to make sure that it’s an ideal partnership for us,” says Wong. “I found these artisan groups [in my previous job] working with a nonprofit. I think that’s why our partnerships have been so fruitful and have been so long-lasting.”
Many customers may not know the backstory of Gone to the Dogs but are happy to support a women-owned small business, like repeat customer Rebbeca Wassef.
“I like that it is women-owned, I like that it is Asian-owned,” she says. “Especially when I buy things for my dog, Luna, I try to really support small businesses as much as I can.”
Agustin and Wong opened Gone to the Dogs so that folks can feel good about what they buy, and as dog moms, they know your pets will love the products too. Their rescue dogs, Miles and Ollie, were part of the inspiration for Gone to the Dogs.
“Come visit us and know we take much pride and much thought and much care in the products that we make because we are dog moms and dog lovers. We want to make sure the things we make and the things that we buy for our dogs are good for them, good for the earth and good for the people who had a hand in making them,” says Agustin.
Visit Gone to the Dogs at 103 7th Ave., in Brooklyn, and use the code EPICENTER15 to get 15% off your order, valid online and in-store.