“If you’ve never been in business before, you don’t know what you don’t know. Network. Connect with a mentor or coach. Find support: it doesn’t have to be expensive; lots of options are free!” This is the advice of Susan Fondren, owner of Madrona Dog Company. The business is ever evolving, and in a self-proclaimed “research mode.” While the storefront sits in the vibrant Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, Susan is choosing to think of her store as a long-term pop-up, “hopeful that it all leads down a successful and sustainable path.”
So what makes her store different? It all started with a question: “Where can we get things ethically sourced, while supporting other small businesses?” Madrona Dog Company is a retailer of accoutrements for dogs that are mostly hand-crafted, by local small businesses, and ethically sourced with an eye for design. Everything has been carefully selected, from Seattle Barkery treats to dog beds that fit into the personal design of your home, rather than sticking out like a sore thumb.
Susan has always dreamed of being a “small town boutique” and took the chance after receiving the advice to “do something that you love and see what happens.” She started out just working part time in pet-related jobs, then moved up to her own tents, tables and pop-ups. She worked with a SCORE mentor and then reached out to Business Impact NW to be matched with a business coach, who helped her take all the research she had and turn it into action. “Jessica [business coach] has been such an amazing source of support, encouragement, knowledge and level-headedness! I am so grateful for her and Business Impact NW. Without both, I’m not sure I ever would have made it from research & planning mode to launch mode!”
But she did: in November 2017, Susan launched her own temporary storefront in Madrona with dreams of a permanent location and maybe ecommerce to go with her brick and mortar. And people are noticing. Not just the local community, but thanks to online media like Yelp and Instagram, Susan is getting inquiries and business from all over. Many drive from beyond the greater Seattle area to support sustainable, responsible canine goods. Through her retail space, Susan gets to connect with people over a shared love of animals, and be part of community is a new and meaningful way.
Check out Madrona Dog Company at its current location: 1130 34th Ave, Seattle WA, online at madronadogcompany.com, or on Yelp, Facebook or Instagram.
You can also network with & support other local women business owners like Susan at this year’s Celebrating Dreams event held by the WA Women’s Business Center at Business Impact NW on May 31st. Find more information here.