Plunging into the world of pet ownership is both thrilling and challenging. We speak to Jane Lee of pet and lifestyle company Wildebeest, about making things a bit easier for rookies, designing from necessity, and her love for the local San Francisco Bay Area maker community.
Did the pet ownership process inspired you to start Wildebeest?
Yeah, that’s how I started making things, for my dog Shelby. As excited as I was to bring Shelby home and start my new life with her, I was consistently disappointed with the limited options when shopping for basic, necessary supplies. Not much jumped out at me as stylish, unique or innovative and I had declared, ‘no donut-style bed in my home!’
You have such a strong design aesthetic, I have to ask, is your background as a designer?
I studied Industrial Design in college and worked at a small design consultancy for seven years before pursuing Wildebeest. The work experience has definitely shaped me into a more confident designer but there’s so many elements that make up a good design and I feel that I’m still very much evolving in different areas of this craft. Design aesthetic is important but for me balancing that with unique functionality and quality makes the product more meaningful and the aesthetic to shine even more.
You seem passionate about the San Francisco community and supporting manufacturing close to home. Give us an insight into the SFMade community.
My love for San Francisco has made me a supporter and believer in creating a sustainable community based on local resources and local manufacturing has proven to be very efficient for Wildebeest’s current scale of operation. I work closely with the factory, dropping in almost once a week, before, during and after production. This is a luxury I wouldn’t have, had I worked with manufacturers overseas.
The starter kit including collar, lead, collapsible bowl and other essentials really got me. What’s the response been like?
It’s been a great intro product to the Wildebeest brand and we’ve gotten good feedback and interest from all over. This product is all about making the experience as new pet parents more convenient and exciting by providing a few essentials needed for basic but crucial activities like walking and playing. Besides the concept, the packaging design and the fun, info-filled poster included are what makes this product stand out.
Where do you see Wildebeest headed in 2013?
We’re working on a few new products at the moment as well as collaborations with creative talents around us which I’m really excited about. It’s really cool to see more interest building around the Wildebeest products and I’m excited to see where we go in the next few years.
We are thrilled to introduce Dog-Friendly, a collection of city guides for dog-loving people, created together with our long-time contributor, photographer Winnie Au, and fellow enthusiasts, indie publisher Hoxton Mini Press. Available for purchase here.
August 25, 2021
Have you ever imagined Amy Winehouse or Nick Cave as a Chihuahua, Neil Young as a Vizsla, or PJ Harvey as an Afghan hound? That’s exactly what San Francisco-based artist Michael Gillette has done through his unique illustration project, blending beloved, iconic music legends, both past and present, with their dog counterparts. Pack of Dogs, our first foray into book publishing, is a celebration of pup and pop culture for music and dog lovers alike.
August 25, 2020