Behind the Brand: Wild One
Co-founder Minali Chatani on well-designed dog gear, supporting local rescues, and the secret to snapping the perfect pic.
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Behind the Brand is a series about imaginative people who are changing the pet products space.
If you happen to walk past Wild One’s Soho HQ and hear the squeaks of a dolphin, don’t worry, the pet lifestyle brand isn’t expanding to marine mammals. It’s just co-founder Minali Chatani making noises to capture the perfect head tilt for a photo shoot. Chatani — along with partners Bill Wells and Veronica Becchetti — were underwhelmed with the pet accessories on the market so they set out to design their own. Wild One launched in 2018, bridging the gap between functional gear and fashion-forward accessories, and today counts pet influencers like @boobie_billie as fans.
The brand debuted with a dog-walking kit that’s anything but basic — a collar or harness, leash, and poop bag dispenser — in their signature sleek, poly-coated materials and matte pastel hues that are at once subtle and poppy. The line now boasts a carrier, bowl, bed, toys, treats, supplements, grooming supplies; and last year they collaborated with Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative on limited-edition merch for dogs. Wild One also donates a portion of their proceeds to Badass Animal Rescue. We caught up with Chatani to talk about marrying style and substance, the lucky dogs that test the products, and why supporting a local rescue is so important. Also, peep the brand-new product drop in the colorway ‘Butter’ and read on for an exclusive discount code!
What did you feel was missing in the pet accessory marketplace that led to the launch of Wild One?
We had a desire for a seamless, curated, well-designed collection of dog products that we felt good about displaying in our home and we couldn’t find it anywhere else. As we dug in more, we also realized that pet retail was overwhelming. The world of treats and consumables was crowded with products with inferior ingredient statements. The more we lifted the hood on the world of pets, the more passionate we became about creating products that were up to our standards.
Getting a new pet is a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be made more daunting by shopping for products — that part of the experience needs to be simple and worry-free. We created a collection of products that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing, and don’t boast extraneous choice. We meticulously tested our launch collection with friends, family, and peers who’d also had this experience — a practice we still use to this day.
Have you seen an uptick in brand interest since adoptions have soared in the past year?
The pet industry as a whole is seeing positive upward trends as a result of the pandemic, and Wild One is no exception to this. We’re extremely grateful and lucky for the year we have had. We’re excited about all the new pet parents and adopters who have brought dogs into their homes in 2020 and we are looking forward to being on this new journey with them. Our digital community has grown and we’re so excited to continue to interact with our customers online with the launch of new programs and products in 2021.
The Walk Kits are the perfect bundle for new dog parents, or a sweet upgrade for weathered products. What sets these accessories apart?
I have so much to say about the Walk Kits, but I’ll share my top two favorite qualities. First, each component of the kit is made from thoughtfully selected materials that make each element of a walk better — from suiting up to cleaning up. The leash and collars are made from a waterproof flex-poly that protects against dirt and odor. The harness is soft, stretchy, and adjustable to prevent any chafing, even through runs and aggressive play. And, the poop bag carriers have an easy screw top for quick refills.
I also love that you get so much choice with our Walk Kit, without it being overwhelming. We offer eight signature colors, which come in the classic matching set, or you can shake things up with a mix-and-match option. Whether your dog prefers a collar or a harness, the leash and poop bag carrier fit together seamlessly. It’s the perfect marriage of style and substance.
How are the dog toys developed? It’s kind of a revelation to see toys that don’t soak up drool.
Our product ethos focuses on making the best possible item within each category or sub-category. That was no exception for toys. We decided to make the best toy on the market for three classic styles of play — Tug, Chew, and Toss — in a format that was beautifully designed. We all know that toys end up all over the floors of your home, so of course balancing form and function was imperative with toys, as it is to all Wild One products. Lastly, our toys are made of natural rubber and natural cotton, and each toy has a reinforced core to enhance durability so they can stand up to stronger chewers.
How do you go about testing your products and getting feedback from the pups?
We have a lovely and robust team of pet parents here at Wild One. Whenever we launch a new product, we always test with our Wild One pups first. We go through rounds of feedback and tap friends and family to expand our testing group, ensuring we’re pulling lots of information before anything is widely produced. Once our products are in the wild, our customers share lots of candid feedback on social and with our customer service team, whether about existing products or products they’d like us to create. We read every suggestion and often put them into practice!
Wild One has some of the best product photos in the game. Any dog-whispering secrets when it comes to photographing them?
My team will tell you that I have a gift for making dolphin noises to grab a dog’s attention. It’s now become our shared tactic for getting the perfect head tilts and pup reactions for the camera.
What is your own pet’s favorite product?
I have a three-year-old cat named Otis, who acts like your typical toddler boy. His favorite Wild One product (no surprise) is our branded cardboard shipper box. In addition to Otis, I’m a foster mom and regularly foster dogs via Wild One’s rescue partner Badass Animal Rescue. They’re based in Brooklyn and are run by an incredible network of volunteers who work tirelessly to find homes for pups that have been rescued from high-risk shelters in the South.
Can you tell us more about how the rescue mission program works?
Wild One contributes a portion of every purchase to sponsor the rescue of a pet a week in partnership with Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. That means lifting 52 at-risk pets out of troubled environments and putting them on track to find forever families. Our support helps to fund rescue trips, medical bills, adoption events, marketing tools and so much more. I had the opportunity to join the Badass team on a rescue mission at the onset of our partnership in Florida. It was an incredibly intense and memorable experience that I would recommend to any animal lover or rescue advocate.
What product rollouts can pet parents expect from Wild One?
We have a new lovely spring Walk Kit color called Butter! Customers have been asking for it for a long time, so we’re pretty sure it won’t disappoint. There’s also a really cool limited-edition bandana that accompanies it. And stay tuned for some newness in the Treats, Wellness, Grooming, and Carry departments. We have a really big year ahead!
I imagine your employees are still remote at the moment, but I’ve gotta ask, what is the pet-friendly office scene usually like?
We’re all still home for now, but when we’re in the office it’s definitely a fun environment for the pups. Each of our team members with a dog has a small pet area next to their desk equipped with a bed or crate, bowls, and toys. Throughout the office and in the conference rooms you’ll find treat jars and clean-up stations for when little accidents may occur. We also have dedicated Slack channels for discussing all things dogs — some for sharing pet-related news, another for sharing fun pet pictures, and more. One of my foster pups, Eleanor, recently joined a product development meeting!
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Jinnie Lee is a Brooklyn-based culture writer who has written for Vogue, Refinery29, Vice, W, Elle, New York Magazine, and others.