Table Talk With Dogwood Founder, Emily Hottensen

After years of searching for dog products that were classic in style as well as functional, Emily Hottensen decided to take matters into her own hands. She founded Dogwood with the hopes of creating a product that fit her traditional design aesthetic and that her BFF (best furry friend) would actually use. Interior designer approved, her chic dog beds feature a round wicker basket and a plush removable cushion cover, fully outfitted in a fabric of your choice. Follow along to learn more about Dogwood, the decisions behind the designs, and a look at our recent collab!

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What did you do before founding Dogwood?

I had a small home accessories store called Folly on the Upper East Side prior to Dogwood, and before that I worked in interior design. Right after college I worked in public relations with lifestyle brands. So I guess I have had my nose in the home, design, and product world for a while now!  I also have been attending product trade shows for at least the past decade because my mom has an amazing Home & Accessories store and always loved going on buying trips with her.

What inspired you to create chic customizable dog beds?

I was inspired when I got my own dog and really started to seek products for him that would work in my apartment - and couldn’t find much! Everything was either cheap looking, extremely expensive, or very modern in style, and I started thinking that there must be a way to bridge the gap between the traditional decorating style I love with something functional that won’t break the bank.

How did your background in interior design influence the bed design process?

My lightbulb moment came when I realized that all dogs I have had throughout my life, big and small, use human furniture as if it were their own. I know a lot of households this is not the case, but having had a very lax attitude towards dogs on upholstered furniture, pillows, etc. and never having issues with it, I started thinking - why can’t the fabrics used for decorating homes be used for dog furniture. I also had a very strong vision in my mind from the beginning that wicker would be a wonderful material to act as the frame for the bed because it is durable, versatile, and there are infinite possibilities in terms of painting and staining.

We love working with other brands that manufacture right here in the US. How did you find vendors and what lessons have you learned from sourcing locally?

It was a lot of trial and error! Tons of time spent, googling, dead end phone calls and bad looking samples... But eventually we got to a place where I was really happy with all aspects of the production and I knew it was a great product.  

A lot of the production process has changed from when I set out to do this, so my main takeaway is to anticipate a lot of digging and more sampling than you think you’re going to need to. In the beginning stages I also found it was really important that I was able to meet with the various aspects of the production side in person through each round of sampling, otherwise I think it would have taken even more time.

How did you navigate starting a business during COVID?

It definitely slowed me down in terms of getting the product out there, but in a lot of ways the extra time ended up being a blessing because it allowed me to focus on things that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do without having more time at home. For example, I was able to be a lot more hands on for the website development and learn a ton about how the back end of my website works, which has allowed me to be more autonomous today.

We hate to pick favorites, but which Dogwood x Pepper bed would you choose for your pups?

This is really a tough one because I LOVE them all, but would have to say the Blue basket with the Frida Green cover  - I absolutely adore that saturated shade of baby blue paint and love how it pops against the Frida. And the Frida is of course so fabulous, I just think it’s such a fun, happy looking combination!!

What does the future hold for Dogwood?

There are a lot of really exciting things right around the corner! We are ending the year at a point where I could not be more excited about all the amazing custom designs people are coming up with!! So I definitely hope to see more of that.

And I don’t want to give away too much but we’ve also been working on developing a new product that will work with people’s existing dog crates. That’s all I’m going to say on that for now! I am also working on a new bed shape that I am really excited about as well. A couple more website and customization enhancements are also coming, and I hope more collaborations down the road too!

Shop the Dogwood x Pepper collab here