Industry Leader: An Interview With Tammy Ann Arnett From Pet Flys

Posted: Jun 26 2012

Pet Flys Dog Carrier

Pet Flys Dog Carriers have been the dog carrier of choice for the smart small dog owner on the go since 2003. Commpany founder Tammy Ann Arnett has navigated the rocky waters of starting a successful company and achieving growth in a competitive dog supply industry through a recession. We've always been huge fans of Pet Flys airline approved carriers and soft dog blankets, as they effortlessly combine style and comfort. We recently had an online chat with Tammy, to get her perspective on dog carriers, the small dog supplies business and what lies ahead for Pet Flys Dog Carriers.

Q: Thanks for visiting with us Tammy. 

Thank you for inviting me.

Q: Have you always been a small dog fan? 

No…not at all, in fact I always had larger dogs such as German Shepherds, Dalmatians or Mutts (and they were always BIG mutts =). Then in 2002 I rescued a little Min Pin and named him Monkey Boy. After that the love was on for small dogs as well. 

Q: What were you doing before you started Pet Flys. 

Most of my career was spent in the Los Angeles Garment District. I started in the ‘80s selling shoulder pads during an era where absolutely EVERYTHING had shoulder pads… think of those classic TV shows like Dallas and Dynasty. So shoulder pads were very good to me! Then I progressed from selling trim items to selling services such as silk-screening, embroidery, high frequency transfers and piece goods (fabric).  During this time I also designed and developed a product line that included woman’s clothing and household pillows. And when time allowed, I managed to fit in some freelance designing.

Q: What inspired you to create Pet Flys? 

I needed a travel carrier for little Monkey Boy and what was available in pet stores was either super expensive or lacked any imagination.  I thought to myself that I should make some really “cool” carriers for in cabin airline travel that were stylish yet still affordable.…and I did just that. I was fortunate to have amazing contacts within the garment business and with my knowledge of product development it was not difficult to combine those two ingredients to develop the first Pet Flys carriers. 

Naturally, Monkey Boy became my muse and spokes-dog.

Q: Your designs are always one step ahead of the others when it comes to style, and yet they are not "too out there", ensuring that they are always good sellers. How do you balance your design considerations with the needs of the market?  

Now that is funny because there are people who think some of our designs are way out there!  One of our first Pet Flys carriers was the “Happy Skull” (since retired) and there was resistance in some of our more conservative States. In fact, they wanted to order the carrier without the skull design. But that was before skulls became more widely acceptable. We even have an “American Werewolf” carrier now…no, not for your pet werewolf…but inspired by the current vampire/werewolf craze.  But, I don’t design for someone who is content to follow the herd. I design for someone who wants to be different and express their love for their pet in a fun, funky and functional way. 

Q:  How has the dog carrier business changed over the years?  

Obviously the economy has changed over the last ten years since I began Pet Flys. A lot of people had to redesign their budgets and the pet category on that list took a hit.  Styles, colors, and designs will always change but now people also look for products that are “Made in America” and “green” so buyers are slowing becoming more and more socially conscious. That said, some of our hard-sided carriers are too intricate for cost effective manufacturing in the USA. Yet we always try to have our products finished here or add some accessory like a blanket or pillow made locally.  

Q: What is your advice to folks when they are shopping for a dog carrier? What should they consider before placing an order? 

It really depends on if you will be using your pet carrier only for flying or if you also want your carrier to double as an around town tote. Multifunctional carriers are the key; our “Snuggle Bug” can be used as a car seat, comfy tote or a bed at home. I think most people are looking for a carrier that CAN be used for flying but is also discrete enough to carry Fido into a store or restaurant and remain incognito while looking hip and fashionable. There are so many options. However, when considering a carrier just put yourself in your dog’s paws; is the carrier comfortable, is there enough ventilation, is it roomy enough, are you able to remain upright while being toted around…and most importantly…will you look really cool in it and get all the ohhs and ahhs you deserve.

Q: We know that you are very active with dog charities and causes. 

Our “Perfect World Pet” toys help to support the efforts of Pets of the Homeless. 
 A portion of the profits of each sale of the toy goes to providing food, shelter, and veterinary care for these animals. Also, we have our popular “Bow Wow Bindi” rhinestone decorations that help support “Last Chance for Animals” and can safely be worn by all animal and humans alike. For more information on either of these charities please visit their websites;

http://www.petsofthehomeless.org/
http://www.lcanimal.org/

Q: Are there any interesting new trends emerging when it comes to dog carriers? 

Since so many people love taking their dogs wherever they go, it becomes more important to develop lighter weight carriers and totes with plenty of room for a water bottle and cell phone. You just never know when your petite star will get a call from their agent.

Q: Thanks again, Tammy.
 Thank you!