Rebecca Gadd: Gold Paw redefines the golden fleece

Rebecca Gadd, women's couture designer turned dog-wear company CEO, took Gold Paws Series in eight years from just 3 stores to 600, doubling its sales every year. Before her 40th birthday, she transformed a garage-sewn hobby of her mom's into...

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What did you eat for breakfast today?

 The same thing I always eat—whole fat yogurt with granola and frozen raspberries. Creature of habit!

What’s your workout?

Like most business owners, and moms, I’m always pressed for time so I do Tabata workouts or interval training. I’m done in half an hour which is about as long as I can stand to do anything.

RGaddHomeScreenWhat’s on your phone home screen? Snag a pic and show us!

 My daughter being dramatic.

What do you love about being an entrepreneur?

I love the freedom, not just personally because there’s only a little of that, but the freedom to respond to every situation as that moment calls for, no getting approvals from other departments or toeing company policies. Definitely that small and nimble thing.

Why did you start your company?

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To be totally honest, I don’t know any other way. I was raised in family businesses and I can’t imagine not brainstorming advertising ideas over breakfast or detouring family vacations to visit a potential vendor. It’s all I know.

RebeccaGaddTradeshowBoothWhat’s your “entrepreneurial superpower”—your go-to strength?

I have a very good memory for details—people’s names, the size of their dogs, store colors, their children’s names, little details that help me connect with people whether vendors or customers. Building a business is really about building relationships, even though it doesn’t seem like it is. Sometimes it’s years of working at a relationship before it even becomes an account or before vendors say they have something special that they saw, and thought of me.

Who is the entrepreneur you admire most right now?

This might seem a little incongruous but Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck at the underwear brand Hanky Panky are my entrepreneurial guiding stars.

GoldPaw-Marta-426Why do they inspire you?

Like our dog pullovers it’s a deceptively simple product, done perfectly in the USA with high quality materials. They’ve been knocked off by everybody and their brother, but it hasn’t touched the original or the incredible brand loyalty they’ve developed. I often worry about competitors or market saturation—like how many dog coats can even be sold? But then I remind myself that there are 10 million chihuahuas in the US alone. I’m just aiming for a 10% market share of chihuahuas. Ha!

What’s the best and worst thing about being an entrepreneur while also being female?

I think it is the interplay with family responsibilities is the answer to both. On one hand, having my own company allows me to make a family-friendly office. But at the same time, my work comes home with me. Always. I am never not responsible for the work to be done. That is really hard. But I can also hold a sick child on my lap while I write emails.

RGadd-FittingDo you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs?

No, I don’t think they are. It seems like the how’s and why’s a person becomes an entrepreneur are pretty universal—self-confidence, willingness to take a risk, and especially being exposed to other entrepreneurs!

What the best advice you ever got, and from whom?

My dad told me the old saying, “The easiest money you’ll ever make is the money you talk for.” I remind myself of that often because I’m an intensely shy person and I find it very difficult to put myself out there and negotiate, especially when I am aiming to land big accounts.

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