P.L.A.Y.: A Dog Bed Company : Interview

Written by Meagan Meehan. Posted in People, People Interviews

Published on October 21, 2018 with No Comments

P.L.A.Y. makes quality dog beds with pets, people, and the planet in mind. Each bed is crafted for maximum comfort and ergonomic support, features stylish and easy to care for covers, and are made from sustainable materials to protect Mother Earth. From beds, the company expanded to include toys, accessories and lifestyle goods.

Laura Morgan is the Social Media Specialist at P.L.A.Y. and she is the human behind everything consumers see from the brand on social media. Laura combined her knowledge of social media with her love of dogs in her new career. She is also passionate about environmentalism and is thrilled to be part of a company that’s saved over four million plastic bottles from entering landfills.

Laura recently discussed her experiences working at P.L.A.Y. and her hopes for the brand’s future.

Meagan Meehan (MM) of Entertainment Vine: When was P.L.A.Y. started and why was that specific name chosen?

Laura Morgan (LM): P.L.A.Y. was started in 2010 by co-founders Will and Deb who drew inspiration from their adorable pug Momo. Like all loving pet parents, our co-founders Will and Deb wanted only the very best for their puppy and giving her a great dog bed was naturally one of the first things they had in mind. They struggled to find a dog bed that was stylish, eco-friendly, washable, and above all else: perfect for Momo. That’s why they started designing dog beds that were great for both pets and their owners, hence the acronym, Pet Lifestyle And You.Here at P.L.A.Y., our mission is to create high quality pet beds, toys & accessories that are good for pets, people and the planet. In that sense, a pet bed shouldn’t just be comfortable for your dog, but it should also fit well into your lifestyle.

MM: Right now, how many toys and/or items does the company offer? 

LM: Right now, P.L.A.Y. makes over 100 different toys varying from plush animals and our durable outdoor products to our rope collection and interactive enrichment toys. In addition, over 90 different beds are available in varying colors coming from our Standard, Lounge & Outdoor Beds along with our Mats and Snuggle Beds. Not to mention, we have eight different Pet Teepee designs and over 40 products designed just for humans.

MM: You started out with beds, so how did that evolve to include so many other items like toys? 

LM: Here at P.L.A.Y., everything is designed from the ground-up and informed by the needs and desires of real pet owners. Given that we all love to pamper our pups, there has been no end to products we think they’ll love. After a few years of making pet beds, we really got the hang of things when we started making our popular lounge beds. One of these was our Denim Lounge Bed with Mandarin trim that stood out in the market as a timeless, high-quality classic design. Shortly after, we added our Chill Pads and Snuggle Beds for the smaller burrowing breeds.  As a result of these different bed designs, we started to build a strong and loyal following of customers that inspired us to try our hands at plush toys. This began with our “Garden Fresh Collection” which received nothing but great feedback after being tested. Every year since then, we’ve added at least one new plush collection of toys to our line!

MM: How do you think up ideas for your products? For example, do you ever work with inventors?  

LM: All of our products are directly informed by those who work for and love P.L.A.Y. As a result, we are constantly evolving and developing products that both our team and our customers would need. It’s easy to think of new ideas because we are based in dog-loving San Francisco, California, and we’re able to draw inspiration from the dogs we see every day in the city and in our office. When thinking of new products or designs, we ask ourselves what we would want for our own furry family members. For example, we learned that not all dogs are into plush toys so we wanted to develop a line of products for the more outdoorsy human and dog, leading to our Scout & About collection of outdoor products. This line provides all the products pet parents might need for a beach, hiking, or camping trip for the weekend. It’s even complete with a doggie tent, training pouches, pop-up bowls, beds, roll-up mats and rope toys!

Similarly, as P.L.A.Y. grows, so do our pets.  As a result, our most recent addition is our California Dreaming Memory Foam Bed for the larger breeds and ailing pups who need more support on their joints. This bed contains 100% memory foam and has a modern design fit for any home, with a top-notch water-resistant liner that can be easily removed and washed. The main reason our product offerings have grown to include items like this is because we are constantly listening to our customers, brainstorming and developing new ideas.

While all of our ideas originate in-house, we have also enjoyed working with various artists and designers to create custom prints for our products. For example, the print for out Moroccan Lounge Bed was created by a local Bay Area designer, Natalia Martinez. In addition, we’ve partnered with several artists to create the prints for our Santa’s Little Squeakers plush toys and Scout & About Outdoor Collection.

MM: What are some of your most unusual products? Which are most popular? 

LM: One of our most unusual products is our Wobble Ball 2.0, which combines the fun of play with dogs’ love of treats. This interactive puzzle toy is uniquely shaped to roll around unpredictably and keep your pup entertained. Coupled with the sound and sight of dog treats spinning inside this brightly-colored toy, the Wobble Ball stimulates your pet mentally and physically for hours of interactive enrichment. As a company, we’re always striving to add new features that make our products unique. For our toys, we are always trying to find ways to innovate from the standard squeaky toy design.  We’ve added cool detachable features like the sliding hind limbs on our Safari Collection, in addition to crinkly paper, giggle sticks and oversized, durable squeakers to make our toys more engaging and help them stand out.

That said, our American Classic Plush Toy Collection is one of our most popular toy sets. All featuring different sounding squeakers to keep your pup entertained, this collection is full of unique features that make these classic food toys even more enjoyable. For example, the Velcro hidden within our hamburger and hot dog allow you to the hide treats inside for extra fun during playtime and give your pup the feeling of ripping the toys apart without actually destroying them. We added this feature in hopes that dogs will enjoy the ‘tearing’ action of the hook-and-loop feature rather than actually tearing the toy apart. In addition, our Pet Teepees have become increasingly popular due to our newly added Horizon print. Not only do these tented hideaways serve as a unique design feature in your home, but they also give pets who like to curl up the security and cover they desires.

MM: Your company does a lot for the environment. So, what practices do you employ to help Mother Earth? 

LM: One of the most important aspect that our founders considered when creating P.L.A.Y. was how to enter the CPG sphere without bringing harm to the environment. As a result, P.L.A.Y. has been Gold Certified by Green America primarily because of what goes into our beds and plush toys. These items are stuffed with our signature PlanetFill® material that is made from 100% recycled bottles.  To date, this material in our beds and toys has saved over 4 million plastic bottles from entering the landfills!

In our minds, the typical cycle goes like this: People drink sodas. Plastic bottles get thrown out. Bottles go to landfills. And our planet gets a little bit worse. While it’s impossible to solve this problem on our own, we’re hoping to straighten things out in our own small way. Now, instead of bottles getting simply thrown out, they’re turned into our soft PlanetFill® polyfiber for our beds and toys. Hopefully with these efforts, our planet will stay a little cleaner.

In addition, we strive to keep packaging to a minimum. In fact, the tags on our products are made from paper that is certified safe by the FSC, the only forest certification system that is supported by all major environmental groups. This certification promotes conservation, responsible management of resources and support for communities that are located near forests.

So sure, P.L.A.Y. wants to make sure your pet has the most comfortable, stylish place to sleep, but keeping the planet green and beautiful—well, we think that’s about the nicest thing we can do for you and your pet.

MM: To date, what has been the most rewarding part of working with the company? 

LM: For me, the most rewarding part of working with P.L.A.Y. has been knowing that I work for a company that loves giving back. Some of our social good efforts like our Warm Bellies initiative that donates mats to shelters for every bed we sell online, team volunteer activities at local shelters, and our partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare are what motivated me to work at P.L.A.Y. in the first place and what keep me going every day.

MM: Where do you hope the company will be in ten years? 

LM: At P.L.A.Y. our goal has always been to be one of the innovation leaders in the pet industry. As a result, we are always working hard on Research & Development in bedding, toys and outdoor gear. The future is very exciting for us because there are many incredible ideas in the pipeline. From new design concepts and cutting-edge materials to collaborations with other mission-driven brands, there are plenty of opportunities for us to deliver unique products and experiences for our retail partners and consumers.

We also believe that when a shopper buys a P.L.A.Y. product, he or she is not just simply buying a cushion or a plush toy – we want to build a brand that contributes to a movement that makes our environment and society a better place. That’s the reason why we are a B Corp, why we’ve pioneered initiatives such as the Warm Bellies Initiative and Rescue Pledge, and why we are working with and giving back to hundreds of rescues and other non-profits across the country. Sometimes it can lead to a lot more work, but for us, it feels like play.

Lastly, we are also investing in a different infrastructure to better serve the needs of our customers as we grow. For instance, we just launched an online ordering portal for our retail partners so they can order what they need at their convenience, from any device. Also, we are constantly trying to improve our fulfillment operations so our customers can get faster shipments with accurate tracking. There are many more efforts like these that bring incremental improvements to how we service our customers and hopefully that will position us well for the future.

MM: What advice would you give to someone who is striving to enter the pet merchandise industry? 

LM: The advice that our CEO and founder Will Chen would give to someone who is just entering the pet industry would be to understand what their target segment is for their brand. This will help inform how their products are solving the needs of the customers they strive to serve. In other words, it’s difficult to build a brand that makes every single customer happy. As a result, it’s important to be prepared to make hard decisions because high quality products often come with a cost that runs opposite to what drives sales – a low price tag.

At P.L.A.Y., we strive to create products of the highest quality that are better suited for independent boutiques and higher-end chains. This might mean that growing our business is a slower process than others, but we truly believe in delivering only the best for our customers.

In addition to this, it’s important to keep in mind that the needs and desires of modern pet parents are always changing. 20 years ago, we might not have guessed that eco-friendliness would be something considered when buying a dog bed, but it has become one of the central tenants of what makes P.L.A.Y. successful. That said, it’s important to have people who know the industry informing major decisions and product creations. Here at P.L.A.Y., we all love our pets above all else, so having that perspective as the driver of what we do has helped us both enter and succeed in the pet merchandise industry.

MM: Are there any upcoming events that you would like to mention?  

LM: While most of our in-house events are scheduled for 2019, our biggest online sale of the year is coming up in November! Our Black Friday Sale features 40% OFF all orders over $75 and free shipping over $175. Make sure to sign up for our newsletter on petplay.com to get first access to our biggest sale of the year! Plus, keep an eye out for our hosted adoption events where we partner with local shelters to find homes for deserving fur babies.

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To learn more about Pet Play, visit their official websiteFacebook, InstagramTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

About Meagan Meehan

Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Examiner and AXS. She is also a stop motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a Bachelors in English Literature and a Masters of Communication. She is an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.

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