By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire
If you’re a dog owner, you know there’s nothing that compares to the pure joy you feel when you walk through the door and your furry pal comes bounding into your arms, welcoming you home with unconditional love and a big-old, sloppy kiss. It’s something we all wish could be bottled up and shared with the world and uncorked when we need it the most.
While Jon Kurtz and Gila Kurtz couldn’t do exactly that, they came pretty close with their retail company Dog Is Good.
The couple founded the brand in 2007 with the mission of capturing that feeling we get when greeted by our dog. They even came up with a word for this feeling, “Dogvergnügen,” the last part of which represents the German noun for “pleasure.” They sought to sell products for humans to showcase their love for dogs—something the industry was lacking at the time—and kicked things off with a simple baseball cap that read, “Dog Is Good” (a riff off of “God Is Good").
With Jon working full time in the Naval Weapons Station and Gila working as a dog trainer, the couple didn’t intend for Dog Is Good to be much more than a hobby…until it wasn’t.
Gila started training with her Dog Is Good hat on, and her clients became adamant about getting their paws on one, too. Through word of mouth, more people began requesting hats, and soon after, the couple was attending tradeshows, selling apparel, accessories, home goods and more.
The Kurtzs realized they had a great opportunity on their hands. Jon decided to retire from the Navy and focus on the company full-time with Gila right alongside him. She landed the brand in retail stores across the nation, while he focused on the business infrastructure. Dog Is Good was off to a running start.
And then the economy crashed.
Sales started slowing, and while Jon and Gila certainly worried about their financial investment in the company, they never questioned its ability to succeed. They believed in dogvergnügen. They believed there was a need for a company that sold the joy a dog brings its human.
That positive attitude and perseverance paid off, getting Jon, Gila and Dog Is Good through the turbulent economy and onto growth.
Once again, the company’s customer base began to expand, but this growth also cultivated a need for new and diverse products, product lines and ways of distributing everything. As Jon put it, “New level, new devil.”
But after a ruff—er, rough—few years, could the couple overcome their fears and take even more risks?
Watch this three-part series to find out how Jon and Gila Kurtz were able to push through all their challenges, concerns and risks in order to come up with a strategy that ultimately allowed Dog Is Good to continue to successfully scale.