Millennials Are Wild About Maxbone
Founder Parisa Fowles-Pazdro on creating modern pet gear from sustainable jackets to superfood treats, collaborating with buzz-worthy designers like Christian Cowan, and what’s next (cats?!).
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Like many of the entrepreneurs entering the pet space in the last decade, Maxbone founder and CEO Parisa Fowles-Pazdro was driven by a combination of love for her new pup, Macintosh, and frustration over the difficulty she had finding products for him that bridged the gap between affordability and luxury. “I’d never had a pet before and I wanted to give him the best of everything,” she says. “But when I started looking, it was all Petco and PetSmart or Goyard and Louis Vuitton, with nothing in between.”
So she decided to start making products of her own. Her first collection was small and reflected the immediate needs of her dog: a bed, a toy, a leash, a collar, and a couple of jumpers. “I never thought I’d be the kind of person to make [dog clothes],” she says. “I always thought they were tacky. But I needed something for Macintosh to stop him from shedding all over my car and keep him from shivering when we were out.” She didn’t want to put him in a dog-sized Lakers jersey from Petco, so she put her fashion background to use — she briefly ran a fashion label of her own in London — and created a handful of chic, high-quality, and durable options to round out the collection.
Maxbone’s initial offerings were a hit, garnering positive press in LA and a handful of celebrity clients, and within six months Fowles-Pazdro had Disney knocking on her door, asking to collaborate. She has launched multiple successful collaborations with the likes of Christian Cowan, Ouai, Bala, Kule, and Away. She has also expanded the brand’s offerings from wearables to wellness products, so you can shop for a designer feathered jumper, stylish travel gear, superfood-infused food, grooming products, BPA-free toys, and much more in one fell swoop. What’s more, Maxbone made a foray into sustainability this spring, debuting a jacket and sling carrier made from recycled water bottles — which sold out almost immediately (don’t worry - they’ll be back in stock soon).
What would you say are your most popular products?
Our bags. They’re so different from other dog bags out there because we designed them to look like normal bags, not dog bags. Our [clothes] also tend to sell out very quickly. But the item we sell the most units of is our food, which we are very excited about because we’ve worked really hard on developing it. It’s freeze-dried and we worked with a nutritionist for almost two years to perfect the formulas. Then we had my dog, Macintosh, test all the recipes and only moved forward when we could see that he loved it and his health was improved by it.
As an accessory brand, I was worried people wouldn’t be interested in our food, but we did a lot of testing and we’ve been getting great feedback from people who say their dogs are really fussy, but love what we’ve created. So we’re actually growing that part of our business right now, adding vitamins and supplements to help with joint pain and calming and other health-related issues.
Any plans to expand into the cat market?
Yes, definitely. We’re actually looking into that now and hoping to expand in that direction by the end of the year. We just want to make sure that the products — accessories and food — are things we are really proud of, that cats really do need.
How do you decide who to collaborate with?
We look for companies that have the same ethos as us, that feel genuine and authentic. Because the pet industry is booming, businesses from different industries are always looking to tap into that and each one brings to the table specific expertise and skills and we try to be flexible, whether we’re working with Disney, Away, or Christian Cowan.
How did the Christian Cowan collaboration come about, by the way? He’s become such a force on the New York fashion scene recently, it feels like quite the coup!
We were contacted by Christian’s team in 2019 and loved the idea of bringing fun fashion to the pet industry. We took one of Christian’s most iconic designs — [a bright pink bodysuit with oversized feather sleeves] — worn by celebrities like Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, and reimagined it as a pet design. It’s been one of our most successful collaborations so far!
Who would you love to collaborate with that you haven’t already?
Daily Harvest! Considering both our brands strive to promote health to our audiences, it would be wonderful to work together on a superfood-fueled pet formula.
Are you involved with any charities?
Helping charities and donating items is a big part of our work behind the scenes. Road Dogs, for instance, is a nonprofit organization we are proud to partner with, and we always do what we can to help them — whether that’s hosting events, with 100% of proceeds going to them, or donating products we believe every dog should have.
What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you started Maxbone?
In retrospect, I wish I had realized how much more I could trust myself, my instincts, and my creativity. I didn’t give myself enough credit. When you create a disruptive business, you receive a lot of unsolicited advice that rarely adds much value to what you’re doing. Believing in your vision will enable you to continue pushing forward and achieve your goals.
At the end of the day, what do you think sets you apart from other, perhaps more established, brands in the pet industry?
Many brands are still using an old-school approach and only just starting to recognize and adapt to the new shopping habits of the next generation of pet owners. Maxbone has led the way in providing top-quality, branded pet products and a superior shopping experience, which is why we’ve become a trusted resource for millennials looking for resonant pet brands.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that everything you make is freaking gorgeous!
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7 brands transforming ocean-bound water bottles into well-designed dog accessories.
Don’t forget to wear pants.
Charles Manning is an actor, writer, and fashion/media consultant living in New York City with his two cats, Pumpkin and Bear. Follow him on Instagram @charlesemanning.