This story was originally published on smallbizla.org.
Jon and Gila Kurtz launched their lifestyle brand for dog lovers, Dog is Good, in 2007. Gila, a professional dog trainer, saw an opportunity in the marketplace for fashionable clothing that expressed her love of dogs. Jon, a retired US Navy Captain was full of ideas for humorous, catchy phrases that playfully express the joy of being “with Dog”. Together, the couple developed a large selection of products such as shirts, mugs, and hats imprinted with endearing messages.
Barely making it
During the first 10 years of existence, the company struggled to meet the cash demands of a growing business. The Kurtzes experienced many challenges, such as trying to survive through the recession and losing a major client. They were also personally funding the company through several high-interest loans. The interest payments on the debt were cutting into their cash flow for operations. They had a demand for their products, but they did not have the cash to purchase the necessary inventory.
Jon and Gila met with Business Advisor Brett Dickstein from the Access to Capital Team at the LA SBDC. Brett reviewed the company’s financials and discussed a long term financing strategy. He also helped them through the process of applying for an SBA loan. The Kurtzes obtained a $250,000 loan from the SBA. This allowed them to consolidate their debt to a lower interest rate. It also provided capital to purchase inventory and run the company.
Since then, they have expanded their line to several new products. They now have licensing agreements with several large retailers. Nordstrom department store carries their pillowcases, and Sketchers launched a sneaker with the Dog is Good logo. Jon and Gila also signed an agreement with a major medical uniform manufacturer to have their logo imprinted on their line of medical clothing. Between independent contractors and employees, Dog is Good has created 10 jobs.
Onwards and Upwards
The company is now helping others to become business owners. They have launched an Exhibitor Program, which allows startup entrepreneurs to sell their products at pop-up events throughout the country. This has been a very successful program, giving many new business owners a unique product to sell.
The SBDC, specifically Brett Dickstein, helped us do what no other advisors, volunteer organizations, or “hired help” could do previously. He knew precisely where to go and who to connect with to help us get the necessary funding and pull us out of crisis mode! I did not know much about the SBDC until this point. But I learned they have experts covering a number of different business concerns and a lot of depth of expertise.Jon and Gila Kurtz