Paws in the Patch
Krysta Barnhart & Paul Barnhart
Tell us about your business.I wish I had an extraordinary story about how we got started in this little business, but it's really kind of simple…I love dog agility…I love gardening…I love and married a welder. To top off all this love flying around, it dawned on me at an agility trial I was competing at, that I had never seen a garden item that related to agility. So I asked the hubby to make a few jumping dogs (which he can do because he can make anything…really…anything!). I took them to a few trials I was going to and had a good response. And requests for different dog breeds. We began making leash holders, ribbon holders, title bar holders and memory plaques-anything a customer asked us to make, Paul would figure out how to make it happen. I'll do a design for any breed, so now customers have almost 200 designs to choose from. I vend occasionally, but get more orders via the internet & word-of-mouth. 2 local vendors cut and powder-coat our pieces. Future plan is for this to become FT for me!
What makes your business stand out?We are all about giving the customer what they want. Our biggest seller are the title bar holders. In agility, when a dog achieves his championship (MACH in AKC), they receive a 6 foot PVC bar an inch to two inches in diameter. No other business came up with an affordable, attractive way to display these bars that take up a lot of space (usually piled in a corner, as many people have multiple bars) and to hang them all in one place. We did. And if someone has a mixed breed and they want its likeness on one of our products, I will l do a custom design for them. If someone has an idea for a product or needs one of our existing products tweaked to suit their needs, we'll do it if we can! We want our customers to LOVE what we make and well... so far so good!
What's the best business advice you've received?The best advice I got was from a fellow vendor to attend the AKC National Agility Championship when it was held in Virginia two years ago. The event draws the best competitors from all over the country and by far, this is what got our name out there. People showing their friends our products has been the BEST advertising ever for us! We attended again this year in Tulsa and with it being in the middle of the country, it was an even better show for us. The other thing I always try to do is keep the consumer in mind. We do our best to keep our prices affordable, while still giving people a product that is extremely well-made, well-designed and just looks really freekin' cool in their garden and home!
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