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Los Angeles-based pet brand Daisy by Shelby is still very much in its puppy phase. Founded by marketing and social media consultant Shelby Eastman in the summer of 2022, Daisy currently sells a small collection of high-quality collars and bandanas in funky ’70s- and ’90s-inflected prints, with plans to expand into harnesses and leashes in early 2023.
“Being new to the market, I’m still learning and trying to nail down who our customer is and what they want,” says Eastman, who studied fashion merchandising and business in college and runs a small but robust consulting business out of her home in LA. “I have three team members working for me, and we do a lot of social, creative, and marketing work for hotels and restaurants,” she adds. “It’s a pretty creative job, but I missed the fashion-design element.”
Growing up, Eastman was always the fashion girl at school. “I would collect magazines and create mood boards, and my friends would give me a hard time because I always came to school dressed to the nines,” she says.
She attended LIM College in New York City and interned at Miu Miu before accepting a job at an advertising startup where she worked on campaigns for brands including Ray Ban and Christian Louboutin. She then moved in-house for hotelier and Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager, launching his personal Instagram and developing the social media strategy for his splashy PUBLIC Hotel in NYC before launching her own consulting business in 2018. Then, the pandemic hit and everything changed.
“Since most of my work is in hospitality, I was losing clients left and right,” Eastman says. Like many New Yorkers, she left the city — the epicenter of the COVID crisis — and returned to her childhood home outside Houston. Without much in the way of work to occupy her, she soon found herself reconnecting with her family dog, Daisy, a senior Cairn Terrier her family got as a puppy before Eastman went off to college.
When Eastman’s mother noticed how close they were becoming, she warned her that Daisy was old, and it would be cruel to get so close to her only to leave again. “If you’re going to form this kind of attachment with her, you really need to commit,” she told her daughter.
So, when Eastman decided to move to LA, she took Daisy with her. “I gave her the most glamorous year of her life,” she says. “We went on day trips to Laguna Beach, had cocktails at the Proper Santa Monica. LA is a very dog-friendly place, and she took to it right away.”
Daisy died at the age of 13, and Eastman launched Daisy by Shelby in her honor. At that point, she had brought home a new Cairn Terrier named Ruby and was disappointed by the accessory and supply options available to her. “Everything felt so minimal and basic,” she says. “I didn’t see anything that fit with my personal style. I just wanted to create something that spoke to the cool, creative people that I constantly surround myself with that have dogs.”
She took inspiration for her first collection from emerging trends in the adult and children’s fashion markets — rather than the pet industry — with a focus on colorful, retro, and somewhat psychedelic prints.
She found a small family-run factory in China to produce her pieces and began selling on her own website in July of 2022. “Originally, I didn’t want to produce in Asia, because I didn’t believe it could be done ethically,” she says, adding that her product developer friend convinced her that there was a way to do so.
“I’m so thankful she did that because the factory we found is absolutely incredible,” she continues, describing their “immaculate” facilities, good working conditions, and commitment to paying a living wage and providing a work-life balance for their employees. “Most factories — including the ones I spoke to in LA and New York — have really high minimum orders, but this factory was willing to work with me so there wouldn’t be any waste, and just the care they put into everything they do and their attention to detail is really incredible.”
At the time of our interview, Eastman is sitting in the dining room of her LA apartment with Ruby lounging in a patch of sun under her chair. “She’s so well behaved,” Eastman says. “She’s more high maintenance than Daisy, but she’s obedient and affectionate, and she’s never chewed anything she shouldn’t, so I don’t really feel like I can begrudge her anything.”
So far, the response to Daisy by Shelby has been overwhelmingly positive. “We haven’t had one return yet,” she says. “And although I originally assumed most of our customers would be one-time shoppers, 30 percent of our holiday orders are from returning customers.”
As Daisy continues to expand their offerings in 2023, Eastman is hoping to collaborate with a cool fashion or consumer products brand. “I’d love to do something with Simon Miller, and I’m friends with the designer, Chelsea, so it’s not out of the question,” she says. “And I’d love to work with a luggage brand like Away and create a pet carrier.”
She’s also hoping to move into wholesale. “I’d love to have a Daisy shop-in-shop at a larger pet store like PetCo,” she says. “But for right now, I think it’s really about getting into a national retailer and trying to become a household name.”
Eastman is also honoring her beloved Daisy by giving back to animals in need, inspired by Daisy’s last moments with her. When Daisy was nearing the end of her life, she was put to sleep at Eastman’s home, where she could be comfortable — with Eastman and her mom by her side.
“Afterward, the woman [who performed the procedure] told me that she was so touched by our connection to Daisy that she made a very generous donation to Love Leo Rescue in Daisy’s name,” Eastman says. “It’s just two women, and they are out there rescuing dogs off the street, crowdfunding to get them healthy, and then fostering them out...I’m also hoping we can shoot our next campaign with some of their dogs to help get them adopted, and every month I write them a donation check [for five percent of our profits] in Daisy’s honor.”
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