Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Interview with Unique!

Since I have become the CEO of Merlin's Bark Products I've had to pleasure of meeting a lot of other corporate types. Through my work with Etsy for Animals and AWBAR, I've gotten to know other CEO animals and the people who love them. I thought it would be a great idea if I started showcasing some of these other entrepreneurial CEOs and help spread the word about their products and what they do.

For my second interview, I decided to go with an animal lover who has three Etsy stores: Unique Treat Dog Bones, Unique Garden, and Unique Xpression. Unique's Etsy shops offer a large variety of items from everything from doggie treats, jewelery, decorations, body and bath products and more! Unique is also a fellow member of EFA. Here's her interview:

So Unique, tell me a little bit about yourself and and your three Etsy stores and what exactly it is about them that makes them so darn unique?

I am a RN and Mother of five boys. Two are two-legged and three are four-legged. I have been crafting and gardening all of my life, and selling some of those crafts for about 35 years. I truly enjoy experimenting with natures ingredients, brewing recipes that benefits us while preserving the earth, as well as finding new ways to use found things.

I have been making my own bath and body products, with help from my garden for about 11 years now, under the label Unique Garden Essences. All of my ingredients, even the rarely used fragrance oils, are entirely natural, botanical or vegetable, and from renewable sources. I don't use chemicals, artificial preservatives, petroleum or oil refinery products. I grow all the herbs & flowers used in my recipes, unless I snag them from my friends' gardens. I really enjoy taking my finished products and creating an unique gift presentation with them. I often hand-paint my own gift-boxes, as well as design baskets and other unique containers. I am proud that my products are as good for you as they are for the environment, and that they are as useful as they are beautiful!

Recently I started a blog to share information about aromatherapy, essential oils, and herbal treatments. I have listed many recipes for skin care that you can whip up in your own kitchen! Check it out at Hopefully it will provide a foundation with which you can build a love affair of your own with natural, holistic, health and skin care.

In my Unique Xpression shop, I offer one of a kind sterling silver, gemstone and Zwarovski crystal pieces, as well as costume jewelry, ornaments, wreaths, scrap book pages, bird houses, and various other crafts. Very few artists can offer such an eclectic assortment of crafts and jewelry, but this is just the me that I have always been! I did not set out to open an on-line shop, rather, I found a place that I could offer what I have designing and crafting for so many years now.

Last year I began making all natural dog treats for my three dogs, my Mother's three dogs, and my Grams dog. They were such a hit that I made some extra to take to a show and yet another "thing that I do" was added to my list. Of course it was not that easily done. I have spent many hours reading, researching and speaking with my veterinarian about dog health and nutrition requirements. I have always loved my dogs, but I definitely learned things that I never knew. So this enterprise has been good for all of us and most of all, it is fun to do! At Unique Treat Dog Bones, I never use any sugar or artificial preservatives. All my ingredients are human grade, fresh when available, and organic. But MOST importantly, to my boys anyway, all my recipes are taste tested and certified paw-licking good by Dallas, Lucky & Gizmo.

As you know, I am a HUGE fan of your dog treats. They are addictive and remind me of that old advertisement campaign about potato chips and not being able to eat just one. How do you come up with all your recipes?

Experimentation. When I first began making them for our dogs I used some recipes I found in books for organic/natural and people food cooking for dogs. But then I began using my imagination and adapting the recipes to other tid bits of information that I had, or ingredients that were in season, or just something that inspired me. It is fun to experiment and the dogs are ALWAYS up to taste testing! With seven dogs at my beck-and-call, I know I have a hit when I can please them all at once!

I hear that you have a couple of puppy assistants that help you out in your test kitchen. Even though I am the CEO of my very own company I wish I could get a job as one of your pup assistants. Your pups must have the best job in the world. Tell me a little bit about your little helpers and how they came into their jobs.

Let's just say that they landed in the right spot at the right time. Dallas is the head honcho of our little group. He is about ten-years old, and is a chow, shepherd, lab mix, that was once loved very much, but then lost his owner. After he was placed in a group home (of sorts) for a while, he was found by someone who could not keep him either, so he made his way to my family and quickly became a part of us. His spotted tongue is very unique, and is always eager to test any homemade creation.

Then we have Lucky who is about 8-years old. Lucky is a Corgi that was hit by a car while running the neighborhood. My Mother took care of him and hunted for his owner to no avail. Then she brought him to Thanksgiving dinner at my home, where he met my Son, Jared, and that as they say was that. I have temporary custody of Lucky while Jared is in college now, but Lucky is Jared's guy, and never leaves his side when Jared is home.

Which leaves Gizmo, my 3.3lb., 5 yr old Yorkie, who THINKS he is the head honcho. Gizmo is the sire of one of my Mom's pups and is the offspring of another of her's. He rules the roost (when Dallas allows him too) and is the pickiest of my eaters. If Gizmo eats it, I know it is good!

While these three are my full time and official taste testers, many times we will also have my Mothers' and Grandmothers' dogs, Misty, Fiesty, Twinkles and JoJo try out new recipes too. (The first 3 are Yorkies and JoJo is a Shitzpoo) I would only have Twinkles and JoJo try them, as they are VERY finicky eaters, but Dallas says that that is not nice or fair, so he insists that they all get to try everything that any one of them gets!

You are a member of Team Esty for Animals with me. Which is an awesome group that raises more for different animal charities. Are you a member of any other Esty teams or organizations? How had joining an Etsy Team helped you grow as a business owner?

Yes, besides EFA, I also belong to the BBEST, Organic and Great Circle street teams. Since I am fairly new to Etsy and the teams, I am not really sure that I can answer how I have grown as business owner, but I have most certainly met some wonderful people by joining these groups. Etsy is a huge market place, and these groups make the Etsy experience more personal while allowing for some moral support and social networking with people that you something in common with. Then of course with EFA, there is the added benefit of knowing that you are helping to make a difference.

Thanks for being my second interview Unique. I really enjoyed talking to you. Is there anything else you would like to add?

As a matter of fact, yes there is. I would like to tell everyone that the month of September is the one year anniversary of the EFA street team, and as such, many, many shops will be offering a 20% off sales coupons in honor of the celebration. So visit the EFA Web site to read all about it and to download your coupon, then have fun shopping!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sewickley Harvest Festival!

I have been a really busy CEO corgi pup lately and I almost forgot to share with everyone the exciting news about Merlin's Bark Products being exhibitors at the 18th Annual Sewickley Harvest Festival next month. And since I know that every pup and their owners would love to go the festival and drop by our booth - I figured that I should help spread the word on the festival. Here's some information about the event:


Sewickley Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 6, 2008 (18th annual) - 10AM to 5PM
Annual festival held along Broad Street in Sewickley PA (Allegheny County PA.)
More than 100 vendor booths with a variety of items and information including crafts, artists, demonstrations, rummage sale, farmer's market, flea market, children's activities, food, music and more.


I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dangerous Dog Toy Alert!

Since this is such an important story that needs to be told and spread throughout the pet and pet lover world - I want to direct everyone to another puppy's blog so you can become aware of this dangerous toy that might be lurking around your house. Please read The Chai Story and make sure this does not happen to your beloved pet or to someone else's.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bark in the Park!

It is time for the annual Animal Friend's Bark in the Park for the Pittsburgh area! North Park will be hosting this fun event for pups and their owners this weekend. Check out this media release from Animal Friends about the event:

“Staycation with Animal Friends at the Bark in the Park Beach Vacation!”

Pack up the family, grab the sunscreen -- and don’t forget the dog! -- when Animal Friends’ Bark in the Park presents the beach vacation many families missed this summer!

Don’t worry about high gas prices, airline delays, or lining up a pet-sitter -- Animal Friends is bringing the beach to North Park! Join lead sponsors Del Monte Pet Products and Animal Friends for Bark in the Park on Sunday, August 24 from 9am-1pm at North Park’s South Ridge Loop.

WDVE’s comedian extraordinaire Jimmy Krenn will head up the pledge walk and beach party. Walk in honor or in memory of a beloved pet on the 1.5-mile humane hike and head back to the party for tons of fun.

* Splash through the Blue Lagoon, featuring canine-friendly wading pools.
* Pamper your pooch at our Island Spa, featuring free nail trims and massages.
* Shake your shorts at a concert by local rock band Morningside.
* Run through the agility course.
* Hit the boardwalk to visit pet-friendly vendors.
* Have fun in the sun with games for pets and children.
* Say cheese in a vacation photo.
* Stay for lunch and enjoy a variety of tasty treats!

Bring your family, bring your pooch, or just bring yourself, and vacation with Animal Friends on August 24!

You can register online Registration is $25 per human, with dogs and kids 15 and under admitted free, and includes a t-shirt. Prizes will be awarded for additional pledges. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. The pledge walk and activities begin at 10:00am. Hawaiian shirts are welcome!

This vital fundraiser benefits the homeless animals and compassionate programming at Animal Friends.

I hope you can make it to the annual Bark in the Park on Sunday at North Park’s South Ridge Loop! Remember you can either register online or at the event.

I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

International Homeless Animals Day!

Did you know that this Saturday is International Homeless Animals Day? Here is some information about this very important event from the The International Society for Animal Rights Web site:

"SAR began National Homeless Animals’ Day and Candlelight Vigils to publicize dog and cat overpopulation in its overwhelming magnitude, to increase public awareness of the millions of dogs and cats killed in shelters annually for lack of homes and to emphasize the importance of spaying and neutering companion animals. From modest beginnings in 1992, National Homeless Animals’ Day and Candlelight Vigils, commemorated on the third Saturday of August each year, have grown enormously in both number and content. Animal Rights/Welfare organizations, as well as individuals from around the world have taken part in the event to increase public awareness of this issue.

Now, because of the ever-growing, successful international participation in National Homeless Animals’ Day by foreign animal protection organizations, ISAR will in the future formally acknowledge this global participation by officially entitling our crusade 'International Homeless Animals’ Day.'

As a part of this Day, many governors and mayors sign proclamations written by ISAR. These declarations urge people to act responsibly by having their companion animals spayed or neutered to help curb pet overpopulation, ultimately putting an end to the killing of healthy but homeless animals."

There are many Candlelight Vigils scheduled around the world this year and all of the homeless animals sure could use your help. Please consider either attending one of the Candlelight Vigils or donating to your local animals shelter.

I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Doctor Recommended: Elevated Dog Feeders!

How would you like to have to eat hunched over a bowl? Or how about trying to get a drink of water all hunched over? If your pet doesn't eat out of an elevated bowl, that is what your pup (or cat) is doing everyday. Not only is it uncomfortable to do, but it is also harder on the digestive system. By using an elevated feeder, which is designed to provide food and water at the correct height, you can help prevent and alleviate any problems. That is why Merlin's Bark Products has its own line of elevated dog bowl feeders and also elevated cat bowl feeders. Veterinarians actually recommend raised bowl feeders for dogs and cats since they help alleviate problems the pets might have with arthritis, neck and back problems, and also with digestion problems likemegaesophagus and other conditions that make swallowing painful and difficult. Since elevated feeders are sit up higher, everything goes down the throat a little easier.

Elevated bowls also help keep pets eating areas cleaner. They help keep the food and water in the bowls and not dribbling all over the floor. Have you ever noticed pups "dripping" water all over the floor whenever they lift up their head up after taking a drink? Dripping water all over the floor was a problem for me even though I am a short-legged corgi. Using an elevated bowl has helped stop the "lake" from forming around my water bowl when I am getting a drink. Now the water usually just drips back into the bowl whenever I'm done getting a drink. I have heard that a lot of pets like to play with their food and water dishes too and having raised bowls stop pets from doing that.

Elevated dishes don't just benefit members of the animal kingdom, they also benefit pet owners since they no longer have to bend over as far to pick up their pet's food and water dishes. Sounds like a win/win situation to me!

I'll be barking to you later!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My YouTube Page!

Being the business minded corporate pup that I am, I am always looking for new ways to reach out to potential customers. You already know about my Etsy store where I market and sell all of Merlin's Bark Products' goods. And obviously if you are reading this, you are well aware of my blog where I detail all of the important corporate goings on and talk about my life as a CEO pup. You also probably know about my Flickr page where I download pictures of our latest products and other important pictures of my life. But did you know that I also recently got my own YouTube channel? That's right, I have my own YouTube channel now. I'm hoping to post some commercial type videos for Merlin's Bark Products on there soon. In the meantime though, I have posted a couple videos that my employees took recently at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Just check out this super cute video that was taken of one of the new baby African elephants attempting to play with one of the zookeepers.

Make sure you check out my YouTube channel to see some of the other videos from the zoo that I have posted. In the meantime, I'll be barking to you later!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gorillas in our Mist!

Did you see the news today? Researchers have found more than 100,000 Western lowland gorillas living in a swap in the Congo! Check out this news story about the newly found gorilla tribe that was on CNN today.

Sorry I didn't post on Sunday, but I've been really busy CEO'ing Merlin's Bark Products lately. We were exhibitors at the Johnny Angel and the Halos Car Cruise & Concert on Sunday and I just submitted our application to be exhibitors at the 18th Sewickley Harvest Festival on September 6th. Sales have started to pick-up in our Esty Store too. Needless to say, I have been a really busy pup lately! Actually, I better get going 'cause I need to get another one of our elevated/raised dog bowl feeders ready to ship out tomorrow.

I'll be barking to you later!