WHOWAGWWAR is an online apparel brand for dog’s best friend who also does custom work AND donates 20% of their sales to the ASCPA. I was already a huge fan of the brand (as a fellow dog owner), but I fell even more in love during the interview with how well Kristin and Emily play off of one another and all of the creative detail in the designs. WHOWAGWEAR is a story of Kristin Aytona and Emily Allen meeting, working together, becoming dog owners, and coming up with an amazing idea where the creativity gets bigger and better everyday. And most importantly, they are two friends trying to give back to charity through a well-designed lifestyle brand that every dog lover can appreciate. #apparelwithpurpose
Beth: How and when did you two meet?
Kristin: We met in 2009 when I was freelancing for Nautica to support the creative team that Emily was apart of.
Emily: We had just made creative team changes and it was a really small team and we needed the extra help. We got stuck together for a lot of late nights, I think on Kristin’s first day we were there until midnight.
Kristin: Yeah, I actually left for another freelance job after awhile and they lured me back with a permanent position. We have worked together ever since then, even six years in very close quarters.
Next thing we knew within a 20-minute cab ride we had the business idea and the company name. – Emily
Beth: What inspired WHOWAGWEAR?
Kristin: During the time we were working together I got my dog Ninja and snuck the dog into our office for the first or month or two. (Emily quips that Ninja at that time was only the size of a guinea pig.) And eventually Emily got her dog Ghost, everything with WWW happened very organically.
Emily: It’s actually a pretty cool story. We were in a cab for work and I was telling Kristin about this dog product I ordered and was not happy with, and we started talking about how we could make this product better. Next thing we knew within a 20-minute cab ride we had the business idea and the company name.
Beth: It takes some people months to decide on a company name and it took you less than 20-minutes?
Emily: I said a like the word “wag” and Kristin blurted out WHOWAGWEAR!
Kristin: We were so used to working together that we can get from A to Z quickly because we’re used to brainstorming together. I checked to see if the domain name and Instagram handle was available, and it was and that was it.
Beth: Wow, that is a pretty cool story and rather impressive.
Kristin: Yeah, I think from that cab ride to the actual launch was a little under 5 months which is aggressive.
Emily: It was exciting whirlwind. It just made sense like lets get a logo, lets get samples, and it just kept growing and moving froward.
Beth: Did you design the logo yourselves?
Kristin: Everything that you’ve seen from WWW up to this point, besides the look book photography, was created by us.
Emily: I really like logo design and I came up with a few logos and had narrowed them down. By the time I showed it to Kristin I was already really happy. We have this mutual creative respect which allows us to have this really organic way to work.
We have this mutual creative respect which allows us to have this really organic way to work. – Emily
Beth: How do you sort out who does what between you?
Kristin: Initially because of the fast timeline it was whatever we needed to get done, someone did it. Once things settled we saw what we gravitated towards and our strong suits. We overlap on product design and R+D, and then I focus on business development, marketing, PR, and the website/technology. Emily focuses on the charity partnerships, production, and intern acquisitions and relationships.
Beth: What are your backgrounds?
Kristin: I went to school for business with a marketing focus and then went to art school.
Emily: I was a fine art major with a concentration in graphic design. I wasn’t sure what kind of job a painter could get out of school and at the time I thought graphic design was designing CD covers. I lucky now because I get to do what I love, some of our designs are oil paintings that I do then I scan them and turn them into vector artwork.
Beth: I love that, it’s a beautiful thing when you find a way to incorporate your passions together. And creatives need to create.
Emily: And I love that it’s about what we create and our designs aren’t over-critiqued or designed by committee.
Kristin: The beauty of WWW is that even though our colors are black and white its still playful.
Beth: I love the black and white, it feels classic while the silhouettes in the designs are playful. It always give me this ‘classically playful’ feeling that always makes me smile.
Kristin: Yes, I had been begging for a black and white ad while I was at Nautica so when WWW started all I could think about was black and white.
Emily: Yes it was easy for us, it was like black, white, gray. Done.
…find what you love and fix what you hate. – Kristin
Beth: Why is charity so important to WWW?
Emily: My dog Ghost is a rescue and by the time I got him he had already had three homes in 8 months, one of which he spent most of his time tied up. And when I was growing up we had three dogs which were all from shelters so I’ve always been a dog person and I knew how important rescue shelters are.
Beth: What are the lessons you’ve learned so far?
Kristin: (1)You better like your partner, we already had a huge advantage because we had already worked together, but it’s important because you have to communicate and trust each other everyday. (2) You have to have discipline in how you run your day to keep yourself focused on your tasks when you work from home. (3) Stop and congratulate yourself. You have to remember how far you’ve come.
Beth: What have been your biggest challenges thus far?
Emily: Capital. We were very lucky in the beginning because we didn’t have to pay designers or have someone to help us with branding or our website so we saved a lot of money there. But we are at the point now where we need more capital to get us to the next steps.
Kristin: Having a full-time job while trying to launch our business, we were working around the clock.
Stop and congratulate yourself. You have to remember how far you’ve come. – Kristin
Beth: Where do you envision WWW five years from now?
Emily: We have one charity now, the ASPCA, where 20% of our sales go. In five years I would like us to have relationships with five staple charities that our customers can choose from when they are purchasing from us online. Right now our platform isn’t setup for that. We also have a $100K goal where we have given that amount to charity in that time.
Kristin: Product expansion and more distribution channels for our Evergreen Collection which you can see on our website.
Beth: What would you like to leave Passionistas with?
Emily: If you find what you love you’re lucky because it will make you a happier person.
Kristin: Trust your gut and take risks! And you can’t champion everything so find what you love and fix what you hate.
Are you ready to shop WHOWAGWEAR? And what did you think of this interview and their brand? We would love to know so comment below!