Eco-friendly ponchos for pets and their people
To say Kornelia Pytlak is a dog lover is an understatement – as any pooch who has encountered this delightful human can attest.
Growing up in Poland, a young Nelly would sneak her own pets’ food to the other dogs in the neighbourhood and, since moving to Jan Juc five years ago, she can’t resist the temptation to befriend the many salty Surf Coast dogs she meets.
“I think you are your true self around the dogs, and they bring so much joy and warmth to your heart,” she says.
“I think it is really healthy to have a dog. They are great companions and best friends.”
This appreciation for four-legged friends, including her own fur babies – rescue pups Bunji (a heeler cross) and Kulka (a Jack Russell) – inspired Nelly to start Wet Dog, an eco-friendly brand selling matching ponchos for pets and their humans which are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic.
Wet Dog is also in the throes of launching a complementary range of collars and leads.
Nelly says the idea came to her after her own search for something similar proved fruitless.
“As a dog mum, you can expect lots of mess around,” she says.
“And when your pup loves playing on the beach, everything is getting sandy and wet.
“So, I was trying to find some drying towel jumpers for Bunji, as drying him with a traditional one didn’t work well and took forever.
“I found one product but unfortunately it was poor quality, he was tripping over and the product was made from bad quality fabric, and obviously, it was not sustainable at all.
“Then something clicked – I need to make them!”
While working on the business idea Nelly set about building a “loving doggie community” around the brand by offering to take photos of dogs and their owners which she shared on Instagram and Facebook.
“Wet Dog’s mission is to connect people and dogs, make life easier, more fun and help reduce the carbon footprint of dog lovers by creating more sustainable products for our furry friends,” Nelly explains.
“The ponchos for humans and dogs are made to keep them warm and cosy after a swim or a surf.
“They dry quickly and are sand-free. People can use them also to change under, without flashing anyone with a naked bum!
“Dogs also can use the poncho after a walk in the rain or after a bath, so they are not just for surf dogs.”
Nelly says the response to the super-cute and locally designed ponchos – which come in children, adult and dog sizes – has been fantastic.
“A few of our customers sent us pictures of their furry babies in ponchos and we love it very much,” she said.
“As we are at the beginning of our journey, feedback is crucial for us and we want to make sure that everyone is happy.
“I have a list of different products for dogs and humans in mind. Although it is just me running the business alone here at this moment, that is why I will be focusing on expanding the range of ponchos and collars and leads to start with.”
The new collars and leads will be sold online and at Salty Dog Cafe in Torquay.
They are made from waterproof material called TPU which Nelly explains is non-toxic, recyclable, and biodegradable in three to five years.
“In addition, it is super strong, water, oil and odour resistant, smooth and durable. It feels like a mix of plastic and rubber, and it is so much better than that.
“We are starting with one colour design, with small and medium collar sizes and with one size of a leash.
“I went through so many collars in the past, they fade, stink and are not durable; this one will last for a long time.
“Hopefully, we will make some sales so we can afford to order more sizes and designs.”
Nelly previously worked for a busy international startup in Warsaw and says it was the desire for change – and love – that originally brought her to Australia.
“I needed a break, so I sold my car and got myself to Jan Juc,” she recalls.
“This part of Australia brought me love. At the end of the day, the relationship didn’t last, but love for the coast stayed, and I stayed too.
“As we say, everything happens for a reason.
“My ex and I have shared custody over my doggies, and I can’t live without them.
“I have realised I would not be able to live anywhere else, definitely not too far from the ocean.”
Discover more about Wet Dog on Instagram and Facebook @wetdogandco. Find the products, as well as stories of local dog families, at http://wetdogandco.com.au.