Ever find it difficult to find practical gifts? Ever been stumped on a Christmas gift for a family member? Stumped and unpractical enough to motivate you to start your own business? This search led Evan Manskey, the founder of Cozy Cama, on a mission to reintroduce the dog bed as a quality piece of FURniture and extension of modern home decor across the nation.
As Evan struggled to find a suitable dog bed in December 2014, she decided to create a dog bed of her own by purchasing materials from her local home improvement store. She chose to build the bed to fit a human standard sized pillow so she could easily find a suitable cushion and cover for the bed frame. Her family was elated with the finished product and encouraged her entrepreneurial pursuit at the start of the new year.
As a busy stay-at-home mother, Evan also has a pair of cats (Penny and Cuddles), and one terrier mix (Leroy), who was rescued from the ASPCA and would become her serendipitous case study. The current market is saturated with poorly constructed plush beds and she saw a perfect opportunity to improve the market and offer pet parents an easier and smarter option in pet bedding.
"I don't like being wasteful and I've always thought dog beds in stores are so wasteful because they aren't really designed to withstand the wear and tear a pet can put on the product," she says. "And then it hit me, human pillows actually make great cushions in wooden dog beds because they're easy to buy, easy to replace, and easy to wash." She understood the power of the human pillow in its convenient use as a "mattress" in a dog bed.
Inspired by the DIY design blog of Ana White, renowned builder of her own home and furniture in Alaska, she abided by her basic design principles - keep it simple, maximize material use, and minimize waste. Cozy Cama is proud to use raw materials sourced in the USA and offer beds in standard, queen, and king sizes. Their main material is Knotty Alder wood, producing a modern rustic aesthetic, directly sourced from the Pacific Northwest and certified through the Forest Stewardship Council. Alder wood is quite strong and affordable, while the Knotty feature indicates sporadic knots on the work itself, making each bed truly one of a kind. The chance to personalize your dog’s bed with block or cursive lettering carved into the bed itself is another value proposition for her customers!
“I love my dog and my home. So I created a dog bed designed to be a part of my home decor ... designed to be like any other piece of furniture I purchase ... durable, attractive, and easy to maintain."
One of the most interesting things about Cozy Cama is Evan encourages her customers to use their old pillow in their dog’s wooden bed - both for upcycling reasons but also because a dog finds great comfort in their owners’ scent. As pet parents know, a dog relies on its sense of smell to interpret the world and dogs love sleeping on things that smell like their family. "Not only are pillows soft, but they smell more like you [the pet owner] than anything else in your home and that is so comforting to your pet ... especially when you are away," she says.
As a dog relies on their sense of smell, she reminds us “dog beds should be treated as an investment, a part of our home like any other piece, instead of an eyesore with dust bunnies stuck to it.” The reality is if dogs are ripping apart plush beds, you have to purchase a new one - while a new human pillow would be the only necessary re-investment with Cozy Cama. You end up saving considerable money in the long run!
Cozy Cama has a strong passion for the community and donates beds for use in auctions and fundraisers to organizations in need, including Pug Rescue Austin, Paws in the City, and other non-profit rescue organizations. As Evan looks towards the future, she has plans to develop a variety of bed designs and expand her fabric collection. She’s also looking towards e-commerce channels to offer bundle packages and free shipping on select products, while simultaneously searching for passionate social media brand advocates who share her spirited vision.
Evan's entrepreneurial advice:
“Find some good podcasts - it's a great time to listen and learn - and don’t be afraid of failure. Consider everything a learning experience, failure or not, and continue to grow.”