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53


nn Clinger


Started by a Stray UltraSuede® fabric was all the rage back in the seventies- eighties. That’s why Ann’s mother was sewing with it the night it all began. “My mother was making an UltraSuede skirt, and she left it on the dining room table when she went to bed. Louie, the stray alley cat we’d adopted, attacked the skirt parts, and we came out to find UltraSuede® fabric strewn around the house.


“I sewed the very first UltraSuede® UltaMouse for ‘Louie Le Chat,’ and my sister's cat and my brother's cat. The rest, as they say, is history,” recalls Ann, who is president of Dazzle Pet.


Billed as, “The Gift Toy for the Cat Who has Everything,” the UltraMouse grew in popularity and Ann’s mother realized there was room for expansion in the product line. Working together, they created the UltraSuede® rhinestone kitty col- lar, the UltraSuede® rectangular catnip kitty sachet, the Ul- traSuede® catnip Christmas kitty stocking and the still popu- lar vintner bottle of catnip, “Cat-a-Tonic,” – real catnip for real cats.


A New Fad: Gifts for Pets “The birth of UltraMouse (the company and the toy) in 1984 coincided with some major changes in the pet industry,” ex- plains Ann. “More than ever before, people were embracing their dogs and cats like family members, and occasionally spoiling there furry companions with gifts, especially at holi- days,” she says. “The independent pet store on the corner was facing new competition from major national chains.” When Ann started running the company in 1993, she saw the need to diversify the product line. She expanded into rhine- stone accessories for pets as well as their people. DazzlePet was born.


Being Exposed Today, marketing DazzlePet products means doing many, many pet industry trade shows, says Ann. “Exposure,


exposure, exposure. Our motto is, ‘More expo- sure equals more suc- cess.’ The more people I can tell about our prod- uct line at a trade show, the more orders are go- ing to come in.


“I love it when people come into the trade show booth and say, ‘Wow, check out the bling,’ or when looking at a new design they say, ‘Great de- sign.’ That is probably the best thing someone could say to me at a show.”


Ann uses the phone a lot to stay connected. “I pick up the phone and call the person, or organization. I think there is no substitute for the human voice. Email is a great tool. I use it for thank you notes, ‘great to meet you’ follow up types of things and, occasionally, as a method to introduce myself. But I love picking up the phone and saying, ‘Hello, let's talk about your store and how DazzlePet can help you make more money.’ ”


Bead-azzled Ann’s rescue dogs, Sergei, a poodle, and Tasha, a Shih Tzu, are the vice presidents of research and development and offi- cial DazzlePet catalog models,” says Ann cheerfully.


Every item the two pets don for photo shoots has been made with great care. “The attention to detail in the sewing of the jewels” is of paramount importance, explains Ann.


“Sewing our product line is a multi-step process in which my American workforce takes great pride. I have worked with some of my seamstresses for more than 10 years. They are very conscientious people, and they make our company run.”


Contact Ann Clinger at 734-761-1144 or ann@dazzlepet.net.


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