[Top row from left to right] Mark Watkins, Stephanie Sun, Justin Miccuci, Amanda
Chandra and Benny Cao
[Bottom row from left to right] Brittany Davis with her dog, Jenny, Melissa Solis,
Jennifer Castillo and Jennifer Cao with her dog, Kramer
In a little over two years, ZippyPaws outgrew its first office, which
was a roughly 16,000-square-foot building. The company moved
into a new building—which is three times larger than its first
building at roughly 50,000 square feet—at the end of January.
What does the future hold for ZippyPaws?
ZippyPaws has seen immense year-over-year growth, and 2018 will be no exception. We really want to continue to build the ZippyPaws brand to reflect the modern
dog and dog owner. In 2017, we launched our Legacy and Vivid collections of leather
collars and leashes. In 2018, we are launching new tough TPR toys along with new
food-inspired Burrows. Our goal is to continue innovating in what we do best: squeaky
plush toys, while expanding our product lines and bringing the ZippyPaws look into
Tell us about some key people at your company who your pet specialty
retail partners should know about.
Justin Miccuci joined ZippyPaws in 2013 as a sales representative. Since then, he has
been promoted to director of operations in 2017 after proving his loyalty to the company, great business acumen and dedication to ZippyPaws’ growth. Currently, he oversees all company operations and maintains key accounts.
Mark Watkins joined ZippyPaws in early 2015 as a sales representative and has
since taken over the sales department as sales manager. He is in charge of handling all
customer accounts. Mark is an expert on building and maintaining good rapport with
all of ZippyPaws’ customers. In addition to overseeing wholesale customers, regional
reps and major distributors, Mark also travels internationally to work with ZippyPaws’
customers in the U.K., Canada and abroad.
Robert Gallegos joined ZippyPaws in early 2016 as warehouse manager, and he has
revamped the warehouse storage and shipping processes to keep up with the immense
growth ZippyPaws has seen in the last few years. Having a streamlined warehouse
helps to lower overhead and storage costs, and allows us to quickly ship out products to our customers. In January 2018, Robert headed up ZippyPaws’ move to a new
50,000-plus-square-foot warehouse, where organization and efficiency will be key to
our continued growth in the next few years.
Tell us about your design and manufacturing processes.
I approach new product designs in a variety of ways:
• Design an exclusive new squeaker, then create a toy around it;
• Find an awesome new fabric and find a creative way to use it on a new toy;
• Improve the functionality and/or design of existing products;
• And create trendy products that are great for photo props.
Throughout the design process, I always focus on the core essence of a toy—what
purpose does it serve and why is it unique?
For example, I capitalized on the trend of gourmet doughnuts in the food scene with
Donutz, a bestselling line of seven color toys. Doughnut-shaped plush and vinyl toys
for dogs are a dime a dozen on the market, but I wanted ZippyPaws’ offering to look
more realistic and be more durable. To achieve the aesthetic look, I used a layer of color
felt and a wavy outer edge to mimic the irresistible glazes and embroidered multicolor
“sprinkles” to give the toys more texture. For durability, I designed a mold for a crescent,
or half moon, squeaker that, when doubled up, exactly fit the inside of a Donutz dog toy.
This eliminated the need for stuffing. Even when one squeaker eventually wears out due
to excessive love and play, there’s another one to extend the life of the toy.
As for the manufacturing process, we work with several factories in China that have
more than 15 years’ experience in manufacturing pet products. I work closely with the
lead seamstresses to make sure that my design drawings translate well into toys, keeping
in mind toy affordability [and] ease of mass production, amongst other factors.
As a team, how do your business backgrounds, expertise, and resources
come together and aid in your endeavor to make great products?
All the team members at ZippyPaws come from different industries, while some are
newly out of college. Since we are such a small team, we rely on working closely together
to get things done. What we all have in common is our trust in each other and in our
brand. When you trust the process and the people, good things will happen.
ZippyPaws started out as a toy manufacturer but has now branched out.
How have you applied the expertise the company built in the toy space to
make quality products in other categories?;
Our success in the plush toy category is largely due to our commitment to our core
business. We do what we know best: designing fun, affordable toys that are made with
high-quality materials. As we slowly branch out into other categories, we want to stay
true to that and only release products that we know our customers will love. For example, when we launched our Legacy and Vivid leather collar and leash collections, we
took the same approach as we do for our toys, which is creating products that are fun,
colorful, trendy, practical and affordable.