Archive for the ‘Pet Conference’ Category

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24 Sep 13

New products, Total Pet Expo ...

By Nancy E. Hassel,

The Total Pet Expo, by H.H. Backer Associates was held in Chicago this past weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and there were 2 levels of pet products, and nearly 700 booths to see.   The show, which debuted a new name and earlier time in the season were expecting about 8,000 buyers to attend.  A few buyers I spoke with said they loved that it was earlier in the season, because it makes it easier for them prepare their pet shops, supply stores, boutiques and grooming shops ready for the holiday season.

While there was so much to take in some products jumped out at you – like this blinged out dog feeding station from.  They had many different colors and styles to choose from.  While I love the look of this, and know many of my doggie fashionista friends will too, maybe not for the drooliest dog! (How do you clean that so it stays so sparkly? Or maybe that is your dog’s holiday china?)

A couple of the interactive toys that stood out to me were Kong’s new Kong Quest, (get it? love the play on words), and Planet Dog’s Orbee-Tuff Snoop.  Both have completely different designs to keep your pup busy and active while trying to get a treat.  And I think Kong’s could be used for a cat too – maybe with Halo’s Liv-a-Little’s treats put in there – how to drive a cat crazy!  The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Snoop can also hold a ball too – so for that ball obessed dog this could be a neat toy to watch them get the ball out with treats hidden underneath!  For us humans to clean the toy, you can easily pop the top up and clean it.

Of course while I was there I had to stop by and say hi to our friends at Earth Rated the makers of PoopBags.  They have been so supportive of many Long Island pet events and have such a great, biodegradable, earth friendly product. (I use everyday while walking Max!) They are currently in 4,000 stores across the US, so if some reason your pet retailer doesn’t carry the product, request it!

Speaking of Long Island, one of our very own members of Long Island Pet Professionals, Bob Brennan was also at the show as a vendor with his great products, Dr. Emmo’s Pet First Aid by Pet Clenz.  This is a great product and I use the Wound Care Gel on Max, really gentle and helped him a lot with a small wound he had on his foot.   They are now coming out with a product for horses too and soon to debut an eye care product for your pets too.

I always love to see new products debuting at shows like this, whether it is a new company or a well established one with a new product.  These beautiful hand beaded collars by Dosha Dog caught my eye.  This would be best worn on a short haired dog, in my opinion, as I can easily see a dog with longer hair – getting their fur caught inbetween the beads.  So for my short haired doggie fashion friends, I think these collars would be a nice pop on your cute pups.

There were a lot of gift items you can give your pet parent friends at the show too.  One that adorns your favorite breed of dog, and keeps you dry at the same time were adogable umbrellas by The San Francisco Umbrella Company.  With about 30 popular breeds to choose from (and yes they have an American Pit Bull Terrier one too!), and many color options, this is a cute pet gift item to give the pet lover who has everything!

On the second floor of the show, they had a full sized demo of a pet store called the ‘Store on the Floor’ to give buyers great ideas to display pet merchandise, products and how to lay out your store in a consumer friendly way.  Inside the store on the floor, they had puppies and kittens that were up for adoption with the Tails Humane Society – so a nice to see a push for adopting pets out of stores vs. selling.  It was great to see at a major pet trade show – the pushing of adoption and working with your local rescue groups.

Overall the show was great seeing a lot of new products, getting to participate in the ‘Smart Zone Education Station’ a series of seminars with expert speakers from around the country, meeting new pet professionals and see many friends and associates.  For MANY more PICTURES, click here – a lot more products in our photo section on Facebook too!

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08 May 13

BlogPaws or Bust! ...

by Nancy E. Hassel,

BlogPaws returns to the Washington DC area starting on Thursday, May 16, 2013 and I for one am stoked and am really looking forward to the pet blogging and social media conference next week.

What better way to kick of the spring/summer pet conference season than with being with your peers, surrounded by amazing, brilliant minds in the pet world and social media world – and yes even dogs will be there too!  There is nothing stuffy about this type of business conference, when a dogs bark brings laughter and smiles during the middle of an speakers’s presentation!

BlogPaws started in 2010 and this will be the 5th conference, (2 were done in the 1st year for both coasts), and this will be my second one to attend.

So this year there are a lot of new features at the conference that will satisfy the beginner pet blogger, intermediate and professional pet blogger.  As this year BlogPaws team has introduced 4 tracks of sessions so if you have been before and are not sure what is in it for you this year as a pro blogger – check this out.  If you are new to pet blogging and want to hone your online publishing skills or want to start a blog for your pet business or community this is the conference for you.  You can also mix and match the tracks – in other words pick and choose what sessions you want to be in.

An addition this year, Blerina Sanocki from Google will be there to discuss google analytics on Thursday from 1 – 2:3opm.  It pays to get there in morning, registration starts at 10am on Thursday – guess this traveler will be leaving a little earlier that day to get there for this!

Also new this year will be Lunch Pack Leaders – which is an expert who will be inviting attendees to a lunchtime discussion to share their knowledge.  Cool, I am in!

And if you have a pet business this is a fantastic place to be too – while blogging and social media are big portion of the 3 day event – pet businesses will have the opportunity to learn so much too.  And of course for the networking and education you will get while there, it is so worth the 4.5 hr drive, if your driving!

To register for BlogPaws or find out more info, click here!

Hope to see you there!  OH wait! I forgot to mention the tremendous Swag you will get while there too! :)

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12 Mar 13

by Nancy E. Hassel,

From the Corporate Life to Zelda’s Song, how one business woman changed careers to create a thriving business in memory of her beloved dog Zelda.

I always find it fascinating how people have ended up in the pet industry whether it’s a pet business or rescue group.  A lot of pet professionals I talk to had a former life as a professional person in the corporate world in a completely different industry, and may have always had a yearning to get into the pet industry.

Last spring, in April of 2012, I was at the HH Backer pet trade show in Atlantic City, and at this point it takes something quite different, unique, or just plain fabulous to draw my attention.  I was walking with a friend and at the same time we both walked over to a booth in the new product section called Zelda’s Song.

What drew me to the booth was the quality of the products, the uniqueness of what was being displayed.  I was both admiring Zelda’s Song’s bracelets and key rings – which was unlike anything I had seen before.  Not to mention how beautiful the dog collars and leashes are too.  The quality and craftwomanship was what really stood out.  I was intrigued and asked, how do you get the pictures of the dogs to pop out and look so good?  Sharon Herrman the owner and founder of Zelda’s Song starting explaining the process, that everything is designed by her, all materials made right here in the USA, (Rhode Island and upstate New York), and was so nice about her product, not a typical pushy sales person.  You could really hear her passion about her product while she was talking to me.

I remember saying to Sharon, “I definitely want to get a key ring, I love it.”  I took her card, checked out her website and really liked what I saw.  Fast forward a few months later to October 2012 and as I walked through the vendor spaces at BarkWorld in Atlanta – I spotted Sharon at her Zelda’s Song booth.  It was so nice to see a familiar face!  We spoke for a bit and her booth looked great and we talked about how we would get back to NY/CT with the impending Hurricane Sandy on the way.  I also said, “That’s right I wanted to get a key chain, I really love the quality and design of it.”  And the last day at BarkWorld I won a key chain, one of the many giveaways at the expo. (How cool, thank you universe!)

Since then, Sharon and I had correspondence and she was kind enough to be one of our sponsors for our 3rd Annual Holiday Party & Pet Food Drive for Long Island Pet Professionals.

As I mentioned, it’s not every day or every time I go to a pet trade show that I get excited about a product and how it came about.  Sharon was kind enough to let me take time out her busy schedule to interview her – and maybe inspire those of you who are thinking of getting into the pet industry or have a product idea they want to launch.

Q. So tell me more how you got interested in starting Zelda’s Song?

A.  I also always wanted to run my own business – I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, my dad built a multi-million dollar business and my mother ran her own pharmacy, so it’s been in my blood.   After loosing my beloved Bernese Mountain dog, Zelda, at the age of 6 due to cancer, the idea of starting a business in her memory would keep coming to me, and it actually helped me manage my grief of loosing Zelda.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea, it kept coming back to me and the creative process really drew me in.

Q. I love what you told me about Searching Amazon and how a book popped up, tell us about that:

A. Yes I was searching on Amazon one day and a book called ‘One Nation Under Dog’ by Michael Schaffer popped up as a suggestion, and it was odd since I had never bought a pet related book on Amazon.   But it caught my attention, and I purchased it after reading the first few pages they give you to read on Amazon.  The book was about how our mainstream culture is not that accepting of pet loss.  The idea I was thinking of doing, or creating really was nagging at me even more after reading this book.  I thought, it would be so nice to have a way that pet owners could either wear a picture of their actual pet as an emblem their pets mean to them.   I wanted a way to carry Zelda’s picture with me or wear her picture – and also have a beautiful piece of jewelry capturing her essence for others to see.

That is fascinating that the book popped up, almost leading you in the direction you were already thinking of going – love that! So I love the tag line, ‘Fetch Joy’ – how did you come up with that?

A.  Fetch Joy was to show a fun way of representing life and the joy our pets bring to us on a daily basis.  So while you can memorialize your pet with our jewelry, you can also create a piece of jewelry with your current pet, fetching joy if you will.

So great! I know my Max is always bringing me joy!  What did you do before becoming a pet entrepreneur with Zelda’s Song?

A. I had a great career in marketing with various Fortune 500 companies.  Mostly in consumer products companies, and I specialized in new product development.  And I was also a manufacturers representative right before starting Zelda’s song.  I have an MBA and also 2-year degree in architectural engineering.

Wow, that is some career history and great combo on degrees on what you do.  I love to hear backgrounds of our pet professionals, and having a career in marketing must have really helped you.  So tell us, how did you start getting the word out about your business?

A.  I started with the pet trade shows, like HH Backer’s spring trade show, and I started doing a blog on being a start up entrepreneur.  But I have to say that the trade shows really proved that was interest in the product.  I tried to combine traditional and online advertising; I placed ads with The Bark magazine, was on Twitter, (@ZeldasSong), from the beginning and of course Facebook.  I am also getting into Pinterest.  I find that our customers want to connect directly with me, since I do the framing of their photo that ends up in the bracelet or keychain.  That has worked well – the direct interaction. Customers seem to want to share the story of their life with their dogs, and I like to listen – it’s part of the personal service and helps me understand how to showcase the dog’s personality.  Often times, our product is an emotional purchase for the customer.

You’re products are beautifully, handcrafted, here in the USA do you come up with the designs on your own?

A. Yes, so far I have created all the designs. Mostly they came about as I thought about designing jewelry that would hold Zelda’s photo and tags.  Then I just took it a step further to include the charm bracelet concept – something like a ‘Pandora’ bracelet for dog moms.

How long have you been in business?

A. We have been in business, creating, designing and getting everything in order to launch for 2 to 3 years, and started officially selling in June 2012. You know it takes a long time to get product to market, prototypes, manufacturing prototypes, etc. But the magic is when you are holding the first finished product in your hand – then you really know.

What is your goal of Zelda’s song moving forward?

A. Building my social media audience, get Zelda’s Song into more retail and gift boutique stores.  Part of my demographic is the older generation who are not on the internet – so focusing on getting more people who are not on the internet to know about Zelda’s Song.

What would you tell other business owners who are thinking of getting started in the pet industry?

A. I would say I am glad we went in to business, although it can continue to be scary, but the people we have met have along the way so far have been open and down to earth, generally very welcoming and helpful.   I would say to others in the pet industry or thinking about getting into it, if you have a tangible idea to go for it.  But do it the right way, and understand that not everyone in the pet industry will make money with whatever product they bring to market.  I know this from business in general from all my years working in marketing and being a manufacturers rep.  Do your due diligence in researching your idea or product and launch when you are ready – don’t rush it.

And lastly what is the song in Zelda’s Song?

A. I use to sing “Two of Us” by The Beatles to Zelda all the time.  And it just fit when coming up with the name for the business.

Thank you Sharon for sharing your story about your company and I am sure Zelda is very proud of her mom.  I know you already give back to groups like Berner-Garde Foundation, and The Riedel and Cody Fund,, so thankful for your generosity towards those two groups.  I love when business owners give back even when they first start out. I am thrilled with Max’s key chain and I can’t wait to see what is new to come out in your beautiful line of products.  For more about Zelda’s Song click here.

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16 Nov 12

Petworking at Bark World, recap ...

by Nancy E. Hassel,

A couple of years ago I heard of this pet industry conference called ‘Bark World‘ and at first glance I thought it was just another trade show, but after doing some digging and looking into their website, I was intrigued.  I have been to many pet industry events, aside from the ones I host for Long Island Pet Professionals (LIPP), and at each event I always walk away with new knowledge, a new connection, and something to bring back to our members of LIPP.  Every industry event, trade show, or conference has always been super helpful in one way or another – and I love being able to share more knowledge that I learned with my networking group.  So needless to say I could not wait to go to Bark World to see what the social media and petworking conference was all about, you know in Atlanta!

From the moment I stepped onto the party limo bus with other petworkers, that was a free ride from the Atlanta airport, (which btw, New York needs to seriously step up their game with airports – Atlanta was a beautiful, futuristic and super simple airport to navigate), to the pet friendly Westin Buckhead Hotel- thanks to Bayer for sponsoring that ride to Bark World – I knew this was going to be a great event.  Everyone on the bus was super friendly and seemingly as excited to be there.

Upon arriving at registration for Bark World we were greeted with smiles and a large swag bag loaded with items from the sponsors of the event.  And this was not the first or last swag bag or the 2 day event – there was so many things given away by the Bark World sponsors that I literally could not fit everything in my luggage for my return trip.

On Thursday night there was a Halloween party for the guests of the event and many pets dressed up too.

Friday morning kicked off with an opening keynote intro and then we all headed into the seminars – which were fantastic.  I could not take notes fast enough or ask enough questions, the dept of the speakers and knowledge was really inspiring.  I still have not wrapped my head around a lot that I learned there, mainly due to hurricane Sandy ripping through the north east and especially hitting Long Island, Staten Island, and NJ.  I came back from Bark World late Saturday night, and Sunday was hurricane prep and Monday we got hit.   And if you were affected in anyway by the superstorm, you know how heartbreaking, worrisome and distracting to focus on anything but try to help those affected.  But now, I am finally taking a moment to look at my notes and reach out to those that checked in on us here on LI (see amazing connections already made across the country!), I am diving into the information.

A few seminars really stand out for me and have totally inspired me to do more – and that in and of itself was so worth the trip.  As an entrepreneur sometimes working on your own can get really, well unmotivated – so thank you to all the speakers who put their time and effort – you all inspired me in one way or another!  But one of the funniest and mind boggling seminars, (in terms of how far we have come on social media), was the Hashtag Revolution given by Twitter’s very own Brent Herd. (@brentherd)  Really fascinating.  Still not on twitter? What are you crazy? Lol, follow me @LIPetPros :) I got so much info from each seminar, you should check out who the speakers and key notes were too.

I was really impressed with how well everything ran, how friendly all the Bark World staffers were, and what a great job Denise Quashie, the Founder of Bark World Expo, did – not to mention her adorable dog Frankie Beans too!   I am hoping to go back to Bark World next year too – along with a lot of other great conferences throughout the year – for me Bark World will be a keeper – and if you are a pet blogger, pet writer or in the pet industry – this event is one to put in your calendars.  Next year I hope to stay longer and explore the ATL more – was a beautiful city as we drove through it.

It is great to be at an event with so many friendly, like minded individuals that are happy to be meeting each other and sharing their knowledge with you.  Petworking baby, petworking!

Check out the slide show below this adorable dog of the many pictures I took of Bark World!

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22 Oct 12

Petworking at Bark World Expo! ...

by Nancy E. Hassel,

In just a few days, pet bloggers and pet companies from across the country will gather in Atlanta, Georgia for the annual Bark World Expo!  This is one pet industry person who is attending and excited to be there and meet other like minded pet writers, pet companies and pet industry leaders.   This will be my first time at the expo and will be reporting back after the event to tell you all about it!   To find out more see who is speaking at the national social media petworking conference, click the Bark World logo below.  And don’t worry cat lovers, Meow World will be debuting this year at Bark World to!

If you are interested in going, there are only a couple seats left!  Hope to see you there!