Stylish Pet Products Keep Sustainability in Mind

House Dogge founder says products address well-being of people, the planet.

Angela Medlin with Wubbi
Angela Medlin with Wubbi, the year she started House Dogge.

Schoolhouse Electric

Not all dog toys and accessories need to be loud and bright and look the same. From hip cotton hoodies for pups to sleek wool toys, the products from House Dogge are stylish and keep sustainability in mind.

Based in Portland, Oregon, the small Black-owned brand describes its products as “thoughtful, modern, minimalistic, and comforting.” After designing for brands like The North Face, Nike, Adidas, and Levi Strauss, House Dogge Founder and Designer Angela Medlin turned her attention to dogs.

Medlin talked to Treehugger about where the motivation for her business came from and what she considers when choosing materials, designing products, and making partnerships.

Treehugger: Have you always been passionate about both pets and the environment? 

Angela Medlin: I’ve been passionate about pets since I was a kid. There were always dogs roaming around our neighborhood that belonged to someone in my extended family of aunts and uncles. The dogs were just part of everyone’s family. We all took care of them. My dad brought home our first family dog in his army jacket pocket when I was in elementary school. This pup was the very first House Dogge in my life. She ate, slept, and lived her best life with us until I went to college. Her passing was equal to losing a family member. Because of this bond, the idea that dogs are our 4-legged family members is cemented in my heart and mind. 

How did your business evolve from originally just wanting to create some fun toys for your own dog, Wubbi?  

Wubbi was the most recent House Dogge in my life but I have definitely been influenced by all of the dogs I have shared homes with over four decades. As an adult, I moved around a few times for my career. Each time I relocated, the first thing on the ‘to-do’ list was to make sure the new home space and dog services were set up to provide a stress free life for the pup. I took (the honor) of being responsible for his well-being to heart.

There were a lot of dog toys and accessories on the market but not very many that provided eco conscious materials and thoughtful design. So, with Wubbi as my immediate inspiration, I began to make the toys and accessories to address this opportunity for dogs and that could be appreciated by their humans.

Why is sustainability important for you? 

During the three decades of being a designer and thought leader for global athletic brands, I learned the importance of creating products that consider the well-being of people and the planet. Sustainable design was never an afterthought. It was part of the research, design, and development (RD&D) process. 

wool dog toy

House Dogge

How do you take it into consideration in many aspects of what you do (choosing materials, construction, partnerships, etc.)? 

There are so many ways to approach sustainable design. Eco considerations can be made at every level of business and every part of the product development process in all industries. So, it’s a choice, really. Finding ways to create something new using recycled, upcycled, natural bi-products, replenishable resources, and simplified processes is part of being a problem solver. As a lifelong problem solver, I consider it a fun and necessary challenge to find ways to add sustainable attributes to what I put into the world.

What do you take into consideration when designing and creating your products? 

The famous quote “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” by Theodore Roosevelt sums up my approach to designing with sustainability in mind. During my career as a designer for Fortune 500 brands, innovative sustainable resources were readily available because there was a direct line to the world’s best materials and competitive manufacturers. Finding cutting edge sustainable materials as an entrepreneur at the startup level requires a lot more ingenuity. Most often material costs are higher and come with a high MOQ [minimum order quantity]. So, from my current vantage point, I strive to simply put ‘more good’ into the world.

At House Dogge, we strive to reduce waste, minimize energy in manufacturing, use high percentages of eco-friendly material content, produce the majority of the products locally, and partner with other brands that align with our sustainability mission. This is what House Dogge can currently do, with what we have, where we are with the goal of improving on our efforts with each new House Dogge product we create. 

dog wearing hoodie

House Dogge

Oprah chose your fleece dog hoodies as one of her favorite things. Why are these pup hoodies so popular? 

It was a very exciting moment for the House Dogge D.O.G. Hoodies to be chosen for Oprah‘s Favorite Things List for the holiday season of 2020! When Oprah gives the thumbs up, people trust her recommendation. In addition, the hoodies were made of quality, super comfortable (majority) cotton fabric and the wool word graphics on the hoodies spoke to the sentiments of the purchaser. The bold words LOVE, BLESSED, and GRATEFUL were a welcomed, positive reminder at the end of a very challenging year. 

I’m sorry that Wubbi is no longer with you. What is your pet life like now? 

Currently, I do not have a dog companion but I do have a large community of dog friends and family in real life and virtually. There is no shortage of doggie inspired happiness in my life and at House Dogge. I do, however, look forward to the day I am chosen by a new furbaby to be their forever person. 

What are your plans for future products and do you always plan on keeping them eco-friendly and sustainable? 

It is my goal to continue creating sustainably designed products that address the modern lifestyle necessities of dogs and their people at home, outdoors, and in travel.