We recently spoke with Deborah Feng, director of operations at P.L.A.Y. about the company’s commitment to not only pets and their owners, but also to the environment.
Michelle: Tell me a little about P.L.A.Y., and the inspiration behind it.
Deborah: P.L.A.Y. stands for Pet Lifestyle And You, and we are based in San Francisco, Calif. Will and I founded the company when we couldn’t find the perfect pet bed we wanted for our little pug, Momo. The generic beds didn’t match our décor and were certainly no match for Momo’s appetite. The beds that seemed to be higher quality with better design seemed overpriced and, well, didn’t have the features that we were looking for.
So we decided to start from scratch. We took the entire bed-making process apart, starting at the beginning. From the right type and amount of fill, to designing the perfect zipper, to selecting the most durable, color-fast fabrics…all of the little details that make a product a work of art. And speaking of art, we partnered with artists from all over the U.S.A. and Europe to create stunning designs exclusively for P.L.A.Y.
Our goal was simple, to create comfortable, machine-washable, eco-friendly pet beds … with unique style and reasonable price point.
Michelle: You first made a splash in the pet world with luxury dog beds, but since then have expanded into other areas. Tell us about them.
Deborah: Since the beds have been such a hit since we launched in 2010, we thought we’d try our hand at toys, too. Similar to our pet beds, we drew inspiration from Momo and our everyday life as pet parents.
We first launched our Garden Fresh toys, with double-layer fabrics, eco-friendly materials and attention to the smallest details, like each veggie comes with a different recipe for customers to make dog treats at home using that particular veggie … these toys quickly became popular with our customers.
The next line we launched was the Under the Sea plush toys. While these adorable sea creature toys share most of the product features, these toys are also special because we partner with International Fund for Animal Welfare to donate part of our sales proceeds to help wildlife preservation and animal protection.
Our most recent innovation is the Wobble Ball enrichment toy. It is a treat-dispensing toy that provides hours of fun and intellectual simulation for dogs. Pet parents just need to pop a treat through the cloud-shaped openings and see how long it takes for your furry friends to get them out.
Michelle: What is a typical day like for you?
Deborah: The first thing I do once I step into the office is to make sure Momo is comfortably settled in with clean water and feed her her morning treat. Then I get down to answering emails and calls from anyone ranging from someone at the factory and warehouse, to an international distributor to a consumer who is shopping for something on our website.
This usually takes up most of my morning after which I like to check in frequently with the sales team to see how their week is going and answer any operational questions they may have. The next few hours in the office really depend on what’s most pressing. In a nutshell, there really isn’t a typical day for me. Work can be fairly unpredictable and this is exactly why I love my job.
Michelle: Why is being eco-friendly so important to your company?
Deborah: Eco-friendly takes on a much bigger meaning to our company than just a catchphrase. We believe our planet is precious and we must do our part to help our environment. It means looking at everything we, and our suppliers, do and continuously finding ways to make a positive impact to our planet.
Many customers are already aware of our trademarked PlanetFill, which is the filler that we use in our beds and toys. PlanetFill is made of 100 percent post-consumer, certified safe recycled bottles so every bed and toy we make is helping our environment by preventing non-biodegradable plastics from going into landfill. In fact, we have recently reached a significant milestone. Even though we are a young business, we have successfully helped recycle over 1 million bottles since we launched in 2010.
There is more to our toys that make them eco-friendly.
For example, we work closely with our suppliers and their production process to make sure all the toys we make are compliant with EN71, which is a strict European safety requirement for toys. That means our pet toys are free of toxic elements such as azo, cadmium, etc.
Not all consumers are aware of such standards but by doing so, not only do we make sure our toys are safe to pets and their parents, we also help prevent as much negative impact made to the environment throughout the product lifecycle as possible.