The pet industry has no shortage of cool stories to tell, brimming as it is with entrepreneurs inspired by the love of a pet to launch products that meet an
underserved need. Lisa Kamer’s
story, however, has an added
twist—not to mention some
Kamer, founder and CEO
of Knots of Fun—Happy
Hands Happy Dog Toys,
based in Framingham,
Mass., explains how she built a
business that provides more than
an entertaining playtime experience for
pets. it also offers students, many with
special needs, a chance to join in on the fun.
Pet Product News: The origins of Knots of Fun
are quite unique among companies in the pet
industry. Tell us how Knots of Fun came to be.
What inspired its creation, and how did you get it
off the ground?
Lisa Kamer: A few years ago, my company
was sold and i found myself, after 20
years as a food industry executive, trying
to figure out part two of my working
life. Around the same time, i lost my two
beloved corgis, who died a week apart
from one another. i got a new corgi—Leo,
a beautiful 12-week-old.
Shortly after coming home to live
with us, he began teething on everything
in sight. To save my blankets, sofa and
rugs, i began to think of ways to enter-
tain this young bundle of energy. When
i realized that Leo’s favorite items were
made of fabric, i knotted some scraps
together for a play toy, and suddenly my
wild and crazy puppy was happily—and
That gave me the idea to start
my company. Leo really inspired
me; i realized that other dogs
might love the knotted toy the
way he did. And when a neigh-
bor girl saw me braiding a new
toy and wanted to help, i realized
that the process of making the toys
could be a great activity for kids—even
kids with disabilities.
From that point, my company took two
directions—the first was developing a
school fundraising kit, and the second was
marketing to retailers. i was very fortunate to have some great local support.
After my first couple of sales to local pet
stores, i was picked up by my local Whole
Foods Market and then the region. Today,
we are selling our Knots of Fun toys in
almost every state.
PPN: What products do you currently offer, and
what distinguishes them from others on the
LK: Currently, we have three toys that we
offer and stress to our consumers that
these are play toys. Often i’m asked what
toys do we have that a dog won’t destroy.
i usually answer the same way and say,
“none!” i will often then talk about the
importance of play and how effective
Knots of Fun ropes and tug toys are in
Our toys are made only of USA-made
polar fleece, in a variety of colors, textures
and lengths. Our toys are machine washable, they can be frozen, and, for added
fun, they float.
PPN: One of the great things about your products
is that they are made in the U.S. from U. S.-made
materials. Has this always been a key selling point
for your products in the pet market?
LK: We have been committed to making a
100 percent USA-made product from the
beginning. When we opened, we were fortunate to have polartec polar Fleece made
right here in Massachusetts. As we grew,
we needed manufacturing and found that
we had many mills to choose from right
here in new England.
Harnessing some U.S.-made ingenuity along with a unique use of homegrown raw
materials, toy brand Knots of Fun offers pets—and kids—a novel pastime.