Winter pet gear largely consists of clothing, such as sweaters, jackets, and coats. It includes scarves and footwear as well. These products help keep animals warm during the coldest season. They also protect paws from frigid surfaces and ice. Some entrepreneurs make a living by producing and/or selling this beneficial merchandise.
Learn how to start your own Winter Pet Gear Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a Winter Pet Gear Business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Winter Pet Gear Business
- Form your Winter Pet Gear Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Winter Pet Gear Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Winter Pet Gear Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Winter Pet Gear Business
- Get Winter Pet Gear Business Insurance
- Define your Winter Pet Gear Business Brand
- Create your Winter Pet Gear Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your Winter Pet Gear Business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
What are the costs involved in opening a Winter Pet Gear Business?
Dropshipping yields the lowest upfront expense because you don't need inventory. However, it reduces your control over products and deliveries. To directly ship merchandise, you'll have to order items in bulk or buy materials. The necessary supplies may include wool, canvas, thread, or velcro.
A pet mannequin could help you display clothes in a shop or take photos for your website. Many models sell for $20 to $50. You'll need basic tools like a packing tape dispenser, well-made scissors, and measuring tape. These items cost less than $20 total.
Most other expenses depend on how you plan to obtain and sell products. You may have to spend money on website creation, retail fixtures, or office equipment. If you intend to manufacture or customize animal apparel, consider buying a sewing machine. Full-size units start at around $75.
What are the ongoing expenses for a Winter Pet Gear Business?
Every month, you're likely to spend cash on utilities, supplies, postage, advertising, and taxes. Processing fees take 1.5 to 4% of each electronic payment you receive. Subscription-based pest control costs about $45 per month for a small business. It's a wise investment, especially if pets enter your shop.
Liability insurance premiums for retailers add up to around $750 annually. You're likely to pay somewhat more if you also manufacture merchandise. Depending on the size and location of your home, you may need to rent industrial, commercial, or storage space. If you run a shop, conserve floor space by storing most products in boxes and putting one size on display.
Who is the target market?
This merchandise primarily appeals to dog owners, especially people with "disposable" income and small or short-haired canines. Many cats have adequate fur and dislike wearing clothes. Numerous millenials own pets, and six out of ten plan to purchase garments for them, according to Forbes. Many people in their 30s have rising incomes. They're also less likely to expect free delivery than other consumers.
How does a Winter Pet Gear Business make money?
Entrepreneurs sell pet merchandise at prices that exceed the cost of manufacturing or obtaining it. If you don't want to produce your own goods, you can buy them in bulk at wholesale prices. An alternative is to use dropshipping, which is when another company will send the products to consumers. You only need to advertise, accept orders, and provide customer service. Either way, this is a highly seasonal industry. Few people think about canine sweaters in July.
How much can you charge customers?
Look for the right balance; this type of business succeeds more easily when it has moderate prices that aren't too high or low. If other retailers carry the same products, try to discourage direct comparison by differentiating your offerings. You could sell multiple items in a package or include bonuses, such as treats, toys, or valuable coupons. Dog jacket prices often range from $22 to $120. For example, Bloomingdale's sells a winter jacket for $110. Pet owners spend $10 to $70 on canine sweaters, but most customers pay less than $25.
How much profit can a Winter Pet Gear Business make?
Limited data is available. Organic materials and premium merchandise tend to yield decent profit margins. Online retailers benefit from the lowest overhead costs. Conventional pet stores often achieve margins of around 4%, but they have different product selections.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Retail entrepreneurs generally earn more when they buy goods in bulk rather than using dropshipping services. On the other hand, dropshipping may be more profitable if you'd otherwise pay extra for storage space. Here are some more ways to boost your net income:
- Provide customization services like monogramming or tailoring.
- Cooperate with pet groomers to promote each other's businesses.
- Offer matching human apparel that complements your petwear.
Want a more guided approach? Access TRUiC's free Small Business Startup Guide - a step-by-step course for turning your business idea into reality. Get started today!
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your Winter Pet Gear Business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from BILL and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a Winter Pet Gear Business
Choose a name that's easy to say and spell. You could establish a website or reach a larger audience by using online retail marketplaces. Entrepreneurs sell winter petwear on Etsy, Aftcra, Sears Marketplace, Facebook, and eBay. If you advertise your business, start promoting it in the autumn. Holiday-oriented designs often sell briskly; be sure to prominently display holiday gear between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
How to keep customers coming back
Thoroughly research the desires and purchasing habits of pet owners. A product may seem quite appealing to you, but this doesn't necessarily mean that customers or their furry friends will appreciate it. The completed listings on eBay.com can give you a better idea of what actually sells.
You'll have to compete with big chain stores. They benefit from volume discounts on merchandise, shipping, and supplies. Nonetheless, it is possible to offer a superior shopping experience. Look for ways to personalize products, get to know your customers, and satisfy unique local needs.
Always provide detailed measurements if you sell on the internet. Three-quarters of American shoppers expect free shipping. Practical benefits like warmth, paw protection, and durability hold more importance to pet owners than trendy styles.
Try to collect feedback from buyers as well as shoppers who don't purchase anything. It's easy to make false assumptions without this data. Keep track of returns and replace any unpopular items.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Is this Business Right For You?
You might get involved in this industry if you're knowledgeable and enthusiastic about pets as well as fashion. This business idea proves desirable for anyone who needs a flexible work schedule. Do you enjoy interacting with new people and animals? If so, you'll have a better chance at success.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a Winter Pet Gear Business?
You will need to communicate with customers, process transactions, and maintain detailed financial records. Retail entrepreneurs must also receive and organize products or materials. Depending on your specific business model, you may sew, embroider, make deliveries, or pack and ship items. You might meet customers and their animals before creating personalized apparel.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Winter Pet Gear Business?
You can gain valuable insights by simply owning a pet in a cold climate. Useful skills include fashion design, internet marketing, shipping, and customer service. SkillShare offers free online monogramming classes. You could use monograms to brand or personalize petwear.
What is the growth potential for a Winter Pet Gear Business?
Almost seven out of ten Americans have dogs, and people continue to adopt animals in rising numbers, which suggests that the pet fashion industry will keep growing. Companies can achieve tremendous growth by mass-producing goods and selling them to major retailers. For example, Ruffwear is a well-known brand that sells dog boots, coats, and sweaters. The company started doing business in 1994. Ruffwear sells merchandise via its website as well as retailers like Cabela's and Moosejaw. It works with distributors around the globe.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a Winter Pet Gear Business?
Like human clothing and shoes, petwear is prone to returns. A winter coat might not fit, or the animal may refuse to wear it. Returns happen more frequently when businesses sell online. If you do not have a physical store, provide customers with size charts and flexible measuring tape to help them better access fit.
Shoppers prefer companies that make returns easy. All apparel retailers should have detailed return policies with time limits. Clearly explain who pays for shipping, what reasons are acceptable, and how you'll reimburse the buyer. Address pet-specific issues like chewed fabric and fleas. It's easier for customers to dispute charges when you have vague policies.
If you resell branded pet products, some customers may visit your shop or website but purchase the same items elsewhere. For instance, they might turn to a major online retailer like Chewy.com because it charges less. Try to avoid this problem by creating an exclusive brand or carrying gear that isn't sold elsewhere at a discount. Confidence and professionalism hold great importance when you negotiate with potential suppliers.
How and when to build a team
Employees aren't required, but you may need them if the enterprise turns a profit and you want to serve more people. Depending on your business model, you might hire customer service, textile manufacturing, or warehouse personnel. All of these workers earn around $12 to $15 per hour on average. An alternative is to pay an existing manufacturer to produce pet gear using your designs.