We had the opportunity to speak with Arlene, the owner of Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc. She is an avid dog lover turned dogpreneur. Read the interview below to learn more about her high quality, unique upcycled pet furniture. 10% of all their sales goes to a local rescue organization outside of Chicago – www.AdoptaSeniorPet.com!
Hound & Co: Where are you located?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: The suburbs of Chicago, IL. My kind of town!
Hound & Co: When, how, and why did you come up with Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: My husband, Kurt, and I hold a Fundraiser Garage Sale every year for Young at Heart Senior Pet Rescue www.AdoptaSeniorPet.com. We have fostered dogs for them since 2005 and are currently on our 58th foster dog — two have been Foster Failures. ; D I am also honored to be on their Board of Directors.
So, in 2013, we received a donation for the garage sale of two modern (wood) end tables – cube shaped with a large hole on either end. We both looked at each other and said “those would make amazing pet beds”! We both worked on the tables and I painted them and made the beds that fit inside the cubes.
We donated both of these to an Annual Auction Fundraiser that Young at Heart Pet Rescue had and there were tons of bids on both beds. I loved doing that so much that I started looking for furniture at resale shops, garage sales and the side of the road (my favorite).
It wasn’t until a few months ago that this became more than a ‘hobby business’ for me.
Hound & Co: Can you tell us what got you into “upcycling” dog furniture and other dog items?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: I have always been a creative person, a tomboy, and I just plain love dogs. They give you so much and ask for so little in return.
Also, my husband is a General Contractor and already had all the tools on hand. He’s been able to teach me how to use saws, drills, sanders, etc, so I can build things myself. Our 14 year old daughter, Alex, is also very artistic and good with tools and they are both willing to pitch in and help me, when I need them to.
I love rescuing: old, worn out furniture, barn wood, suitcases, etc. to give them a second chance. Plus, our lives basically revolve around dogs, since we are very involved with rescue. I also cannot stand waste (it’s in my Scottish blood). We live in such a “disposable society”, it’s awful. Although we really enjoy making high-quality, unique pet furniture, we also feel it is equally important to bring attention to Environmental Awareness and the significance of Adoption/Pet Rescue!
I like to think that we are doing good things for the Earth. We are a “GREEN” company that creates high-quality, unique/unconventional pet furniture and accessories from recycled items that our customers will be proud to have in their homes.
We believe in giving back, too, and support the BEST kind of Recycling… RESCUE!
10% of all our sales goes to Young at Heart Pet Rescue. : )
Hound & Co: Who and what inspires you?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: To quote one of my favorite people, Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing that scares you every day”. Being an entrepreneur is scary, exciting and fun all at the same time. I focus on staying positive, creative, confident – and above all – keeping my sense of HUMOR, which gets me through a lot! ; D I also get inspiration from some of my friends who are entrepreneurs and understand all the ups and downs that go with it.
As far as being artistically inspired – most of the time, I can look at an old piece of furniture and it just hits me, what I can make that piece into. The details (paint, style, fabric choices) take a bit more thought and planning.
Hound & Co: What goes into making an upcycled dog bed?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: Oh boy, well, since each piece is different, each situation is unique. I’ll use an example of one of my favorite pieces – an old solid oak desk drawer. I found two of these along the side of the road, waiting for the garbage truck! I could NOT let these end up in a landfill, so I HAD to stop.
First, I removed all the hardware, then measured out the side where I wanted to make it lower for a pet to be able to step into the bed easier. I cut along the measurement with a jigsaw then I sanded the entire drawer down and re-stained/polyurethaned it.
After all that, I measured the inside of the bed, to be able to sew a custom-sized bed that would fit inside the drawer.
I have to admit, this is one of my favorite pieces. I love the rustic look.
Hound & Co: Did you always want to be a dogpreneur?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: Well, I knew that I wasn’t happy in my corporate job. About a year ago, I had the opportunity to leave, since the company I was working for was downsizing (again) and offered a package to employees who volunteered to leave. The timing was amazing, because my Mom was ill and lived in another state. I really needed the time to be able to be there for her, so I jumped at the chance.
Honestly, I hadn’t planned on trying to make this my full-time job. Circumstances just fell into place and I had some friends who were really encouraging me to do so. It’s challenging and fun – plus (bonus) my office allows dogs!
Hound & Co: In one sentence, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: Busier than Lucy in the Chocolate Factory! Seriously, since I have to wear so many hats, it can be overwhelming trying to get everything done. I try to take it one step at a time. I also hired an amazing Business Coach, who has made a huge difference in my ability to stay on track.
Hound & Co: If you were a dog, which breed would you be and why?
Scallywags Pet FURniture, etc.: LOL – I love this question. I would be a MUTT – a mix of a Labrador (a little nuts, but likeable) and a Basset Hound (short legs — I’m 5′ nuthin’ — and a bit of an attitude).
Maybe that’s why one of my most favorite foster dogs, was a dog named Oscar – a Basset Lab Mix, or a “Blab” – LOL. He had a ton of personality and was just adorable. He was adopted by a couple that said everywhere they took him – people were just drawn to him. Look at this face!
Leo was our foster dog when he was 10 – but is now a permanent part of our family. He’s 12 years old now and is the Ambassadog that welcomes other fosters into our home.