Retailer of the Year: D.O.G. Pet Boutique
An uptown boutique catering to the rich, the famous and those in the know.
D.O.G. Pet Boutique owners Christian Velasco and Chris Price
Besides fame and fortune, what do Carrie Underwood, John Legend, CeeLo Green, Christina Aguilera and even royalty have in common? Their pets strut their stuff in hip, up-to-the-minute attire from D.O.G Pet Boutique in Los Angeles. Situated near the sophisticated Beverly Center and adjacent to both West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the chic boutique caters to a host of celebrities and trendsetters from around the world.
“We aim to be different and innovative, strive to be front runners, and have received a lot of exposure from the media as a result,” said Christian Velasco, co-owner, with Chris Price, of D.O.G Pet Boutique, Pet Product News International’s Retailer of the Year 2015-2016 for Outstanding Pet Boutique.
After Price was unable to find the stylish clothing and accessories he felt his newly adopted Chihuahua/dachshund mix, Bailey, deserved, Price and Velasco decided to set up shop.
“We wanted something similar to the feel of a Kitson—the stores have cool accessories and products,” Velasco said. “All the celebrities shop there.”
Chancing upon the ideal 1,000-square-foot location, the pair opened D.O.G. Pet Boutique and started welcoming customers in 2007.
“It was luck: There is a dog groomer next door, and it’s the perfect location for us,” Velasco said.
The opening coincided with the media’s spotlight on Paris Hilton and her dressed-to-the-nines pooches. The craze took off like wildfire.
“Paris Hilton pretty much made this trend,” Velasco said. “We have an insane amount of celebrities who shop in our store, but when she was going to all the boutiques, we were one of her stops.”
As a result, the boutique also garnered media attention and has been featured on reality shows, morning news segments and holiday episodes of “E! News.” When queried during a newspaper interview as to what D.O.G. stood for, Velasco’s off-the-cuff answer was “Dogs of Glamour.”
“The answer just literally came into my head; it’s where all the glamorous dogs shop,” he said.
Today, a large portrait of debonair Bailey, clad Hugh Hefner-like in a red robe while posing regally on a lounger, takes center stage in the boutique.
“People come in and say Bailey is literally the king,” Velasco said. “However, it’s important to engage our customers and make them feel special, too, particularly when it comes to their furry children.”
As a premier dog-pampering destination, the boutique features a wide array of clothing, accessories and more.
Kicky frocks for every occasion, including dresses, hoodies, tanks, blouses, skirts, vests and jackets, allure shoppers.
“We look for things that customers are going to fall in love with,” Velasco said. “It’s good quality, it’s cute, and they just have to have it.”
Discerning canines and their humans in search of that stunning, one-of-a-kind collar can create their own statement by selecting from the breathtaking display of leathers, colors, studs and stones. These made-to-order beauties are guaranteed to fit and to last for a year.
“We’ll even do real diamonds, if requested,” Velasco said.
An assortment of toys await frisky four-legged patrons, including the very popular parody toys, such as the plush Coco Chewnel perfume bottle. These playthings also are used in collection displays. For instance, the Sniffany and Co. plush toy, a blue box with white ribbon, might complete a blue-color-scheme display featuring a charming outfit and sumptuous bed.
Dogs heading for a night out on the town with their humans will cause a red carpet stir when posing in a gorgeous carrier or purse created by Dogs of Glamour. The in-house product line offers a variety of stylish carriers, clothing and accessories.
However, beyond fashionable, high-quality items, the inventory encompasses necessities, such as harnesses and leads, several brands of spa products and yummy bonbons to drizzled bully sticks from the Barkery. The goodies, created by local bakers, are displayed enticingly in a case reminiscent of a candy counter. Packaged treats also are available.
Just a Paw Click Away
Tourists make up 50 percent of D.O.G.’s business, and once home from their holiday, customers can add to their dog’s glamorous wardrobe by shopping at the online boutique.
“We already had the website, and from there it grew and grew and we kept adding products, and now we offer all different types of products from different vendors,” Velasco said.
Shipping is free in the U.S., with a minimal charge for overseas shipping.
“We once had a $9,000 order from one of our royal customers,” he said. “It was a happy day.”
Dogs of Glamour
Price and Velasco also began to design their own line of chic and elegant clothing and accessories. Featuring natty harnesses, high-fashion carriers, luxurious beds, creative toys and colorful rugs, the Dogs of Glamour line launched at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in 2013.
“We knew we needed to capture the presence of our store with our online boutique, Dogs of Glamour,” Velasco said.
Moreover, what would an upscale, Hollywood boutique be without a celebrity brand ambassador? Graciously filling that role is Harrison Zulander. The Yorkshire terrier, which belongs to singer CeeLo Green and his fiancée, came on board to serve as model and spokesdog in March 2015.
“You’ll always see Harrison Zulander wearing our designs,” Velasco said.
See You at the Club
Reminiscent of a Las Vegas pool club, the boutique’s Doggy Day Club opened in fall 2015. Utilizing 500 square feet of boutique floor space, visiting dogs relax under umbrellas on pup-sized loungers or enjoy a dip in a “pool” filled with plastic balls and squeak toys. A grass “field” is adjacent to the poolside area.
To complete the vibe, clubbers boogie to the beat of music videos playing on a big screen television.
“We got really creative with a small spot,” he said. “Nobody else has a dog day care facility with actual loungers and music.”
The 21-pound weight limit is advertised as an “under 21” rule, with 30 dogs accepted per day.
The antics of the canines are visible to shoppers through large, glass doors.
“That’s how customers fall in love with the space,” Velasco said. “It’s all about having fun.”
Local hotels also refer visiting tourists to the Doggy Day Club, and pick up and delivery service is available.
“We are adjacent to a really popular, dog-friendly hotel,” he said. “It’s such a trend to travel with your dog, and that’s one of the reasons we started the Day Club, to offer that service to tourists. You can’t take your dog everywhere, so why not let them frolic at the Day Club while [you’re] out for a day of shopping?”
On weekends, the space hosts Saturday Yappy Hours, breed club get-togethers and birthday parties, catered by the boutique. The site is utilized on Sundays by rescue agencies and shelters holding adoption days.
It’s a Party
D.O.G. Boutique also hosts dog massages and psychic readings. In an effort to support new pet owners and the adoption process, puppy classes soon will take place in the day club area.
“For Mother’s Day, we did ‘I Love My Mommy Day’ and invited all the dogs to come down and hang out with their mothers,” Velasco said. “We served champagne and spoiled [the moms] while they spoiled their babies.”
The holiday season features Santa Paws, a photo with Santa event with proceeds benefiting local shelters and rescues.
“It was a winter wonderland this past season with the new club space,” he said.
Teeth cleaning clinics are held regularly in cooperation with a local mobile clinic. In addition to the cleanings, the mobile veterinarian also offers nail trimming and vaccinations.
Velasco looks to hire fun and energetic employees. But most important, staff members must love dogs and understand how to handle them.
“We look for people who own dogs—good people who carry our vision and want to make things fun and create an experience for our customers,” he added.
At a Glance: D.O.G. Pet Boutique
Location: 346 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048
Co-owners: Chris Price, Christian Velasco
Employees: 2 full time, 2 part time
Years in Business: 9
Square Feet: 1,000
Products and services: Clothing, carriers, collars and leashes, custom collars, beds, treats, spa products, Barkery, Doggy Day Club, pick up and delivery, Dogs of Glamour clothing and accessories, online boutique, adoption days, Yappy Hours, D.O.G. stylist
Currently the store caters to dogs less than 50 pounds, but requests are growing for larger fashions, especially with the Dogs of Glamour line.
“We’ve been getting lots of requests from Italy,” Velasco said. “We are working on that.”
With the opening of the Doggy Day Club has come a call for grooming services. With the upcoming retirement of the groomer next door, plans are being made to expand into that space, incorporating grooming into the offerings.
This expansion will allow for a reconfiguration of the store, enlarging the Day Club and adding the possibility of offering dog food, which is not presently in the product mix.
“We don’t have a huge space,” Velasco said. “We may carry two brands, but we are looking into that for our customers.”
Franchising is being carefully developed with possible locations in New York and London.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Velasco said. “We feel like we’re ready, so that’s the next thing. After all, we have clients worldwide.”