How a Couple Created a Mini Retail Empire Around Wiener Dogs

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|||Claire Wolfson and Chris Pounty|Image Credit: Bean Goods|Image credit: Karlie Kloss

Inspired by her dachshund Bean’s strength and spirit after a serious back injury, Claire Wolfson wanted to do something creative to celebrate her love for him and doxies in general. Initially, she, along with her boyfriend Chris Prouty, designed a special harness for dachshunds and other breeds that are prone to back problems, but after it was completed, they realized they didn’t feel comfortable moving forward with production, as neither had experience in dog rehabilitation.

“My background is in apparel design and Chris’s is in graphic design. We still wanted to create something in honor of Bean, so we designed a logo and started putting that on beanies,” Wolfson tells us. Shortly after, they added accessories like totes and sunglasses, and eventually, broke into graphic tees and other simple image-based apparel items. Their dachshund-focused boutique Bean Goods was born.

Claire Wolfson and Chris Pounty
Claire Wolfson and Chris Prouty

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Now, after being in business for more than four years, Wolfson and Prouty know exactly what their customers want. Popular items on the site range from super-cool statement tees to playful-chic totes and hip beer koozies. And with a sale section packed with goods for every personality, there’s truly something for everyone (and every budget!).

Bean Goods 1
Image Credit: Bean Goods

Besides selling directly to consumers, the Portland-based company can be found in NYLON Magazine’s online marketplace. And while they’ve had ample opportunities to sell elsewhere, Wolfson and Prouty prefer doing local pop-up shops with artisan-based organizations such as Unique USA and Artists & Fleas.

Image Credit: Bean Goods
Image Credit: Bean Goods

As Bean Goods had grown in popularity, it was only natural for this design-minded duo to continue expanding. And with that, WLFHND was born, the sister site featuring products for all dog lovers. This site, just like Bean Goods, has Wolfson’s stylish sense incorporated in every detail.

“I launched WLFHND first as a blog centered around style and the special relationship between hounds and humans,” Wolfson explains. “This year, I also launched a small line of graphic tees and a collection of vintage hound-centric accessories and clothing.”

Part of Bean Good and WLFHND’s success can be attributed to their presence on social media. Wolfson tells us Instagram is a part of her work that she’s extremely passionate about.

“We grow our community by being active in it and creating consistent, original content. We also engage with our followers multiple times a day,” she tells us. Social media has also helped both brands maintain a loyal customer base, which in turn, equals more sales.

On Instagram, Bean Goods is gaining about 850 followers a month, and the company has just surpassed the 24,000 mark. This has helped the business achieve a 30 percent increase in sales from last year.

Despite these achievements, Wolfson tells us that “running your own business is not easy. You have to really want it and be 150 percent in. The hardest part for me is having to do nearly everything. It’s all challenging, but that’s what makes it so fun and rewarding.”

And, according to Wolfson, the rewards have been pretty big thus far. Through NYLON Magazine’s ecommerce site, they’ve gained high-profile customers like Karlie Kloss and Derek Blasberg. WLFHND and Bean Goods have also been featured on Who What Wear and Dog Milk, and in a full-page spread in Cesar Milan’s magazine.

Image credit: Karlie Kloss
Image credit: Karlie Kloss

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Besides building the two website’s presence, Wolfson is also currently working with like-minded dog peeps on some really fun partnerships, telling us that her favorite part of the gig is “collaborating on creative projects and meeting awesome hounds and their humans.” One that stands out is working with comedian and Internet personality Brittany Furlan. Wolfson and Prouty designed a memorial t-shirt for her dachshund in partnership with the Dachshund Rescue of South Florida, donating 40 percent of all sales to help doxies in need.

What’s next? “We plan to keep doing exactly what we’re doing and growing,” Wolfson says. “Bean Goods and WLFHND are our babies and we love watching them grow, meeting awesome people, and just having fun and living a happy life.” In the future, the duo also plans to work with more rescue organizations to help improve the lives of both hound and human.

Wolfson and Prouty have found a super-stylish niche based on love, compassion, fun, and, of course, dogs. And in our minds, there’s nothing better than that. Kudos to you both — we can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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