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Like many modern pet entrepreneurs, Rosana Agrelo’s story began on the day she met her dog, Pepa. The year was 2015 and Rosana and her partner, Josep Pintor, found Pepa abandoned and crying in the parking lot of their apartment building in Northwestern Spain.
At the time, Agrelo was working in the fashion industry as an image and communications director and Pintor was a veterinarian with an MBA. The couple met 13 years earlier, while studying in Milan, and had two dogs together — both rescues — before finding Pepa. “We did not hesitate to adopt her, and soon we understood that a dog living in an area where it rains and is cold has some essential needs as far as clothing is concerned: a raincoat for the rain, sweaters for the cold, etc.,” Agrelo says.
Dissatisfied with the options available to them, in 2017, Agrelo and Pintor founded The Painter’s Wife, a dog clothing and accessory business committed to providing chic, playful, and functional items produced in their region of Spain and nearby Portugal with an eye toward sustainability.
“Portugal has a wonderful textile tradition and is constantly working to improve and innovate their supply chains,” Agrelo says. “Developing a collection for dogs was a great technical challenge, but we were fortunate to be able to produce locally and partner with manufacturers who otherwise work with human brands. Once we figured out how to make functional garments with premium materials, we began work on our sustainability plan and in 2020, we introduced recycled polyester and organic cotton into our collections.”
The Painter’s Wife also donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their walk collection to Yaracan, a local charity that develops dog-assisted intervention programs for children and seniors.
The Painter’s Wife also collaborates with local artists to make special products like their hand-painted ceramic dog bowls. “Those were created in partnership with Isidro Tascón, an artist and painter who is also a great animal lover and ceramics collector,” says Agrelo. “Coming from the art world, I am lucky to have good friends who are artists and happy to help us.”
And, of course, she has Pepa there to give everything the once over. Agrelo adds that Pepa comes to the office every day and even models in shoots for the website: “She’s so good-natured, too. She’s a great partner.”
Pepa has some abandonment issues and prefers not to be left alone, but her discreet size and sunny disposition make her easy to bring along wherever Agrelo and Pintor go.
“Like most abandoned dogs, Pepa was very scared [when we first found her] and needed a lot of affection and her own space to adapt to her new family,” says Agrelo. “But from the beginning, she showed herself to be a very sweet and calm dog that could [adapt] to any plan. She enjoys life to the fullest and loves to play around at the beach or in the mountains, but is very calm and discreet in public places like stores and restaurants.”
Pepa doesn’t do any tricks, but she does give hugs as a sign of gratitude and has managed to train Agrelo and Pinto to share certain human delicacies with her. They often reward her with cheese, ham, fish, or other meat. She is particularly fond of soft cheeses and if denied her fair share, will root them out for herself as what Agrelo calls “her special talent.”
Ironically, Pepa isn’t big on wearing clothes. “She’s not a dog that loves to dress up,” Agrelo says. “But that’s fine. I really only think animals should dress up when it’s necessary — because it is cold or rainy out. Clothes are not natural for a dog and we should try to dress them responsibly.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun while you’re at it. Matching Breton stripe T-shirts for pup and parent are some of The Painter’s Wife’s most popular (and chicest) items, along with their perfectly designed Sarah raincoat. “It is a must-have for all dogs,” Agrelo says. “Our raincoat combines comfort, design, and quality and in unlike anything else on the market. It’s our best seller by far.”
Although The Painter’s Wife experienced a slowdown during the first wave of the pandemic, things have more than picked up now and Agrelo anticipates significant growth through the end of the year. “We’ll be presenting our new collections soon and we’ve got lots of new launches planned for the autumn,” she says.
That means lots more time in the office with Pepa and Pintor, but Agrelo isn’t complaining.
“We founded this company because of [Pepa]. Her arrival completely changed our personal and professional lives for the better, it brought us closer together, and we are both so grateful to be able to share every moment with her.”
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