Riley and Matt Powers wanted an upscale experience for
two friends were using a subscription box for pets, but
they felt that the toys, treats and other items werenít
both vented that it was a little cheap and the items
were a novelty," said Powers, 35. "It didnít
fit in an upscale New York City home. We wanted a
two Maryland natives, who now live in New York City, met
over beers at a bar (coincidentally named Lucky Dog) in
the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg to dream up
the details of ShaggySwag, their subscription box
company that sends dog lovers a monthly package filled
with merchandise to enhance the lives of dogs.
company, which officially launched in May 2017 ó they
started sending out boxes six months later ó has
attracted more than 2,000 monthly subscribers and counts
supermodel Karlie Kloss, Washington Redskins player Ryan
Kerrigan, and former Victoriaís Secret model Lindsay
Ellington as clients.
Morris, a loyal customer, swears by the brand. The
Southold, N.Y., resident uses the box for her two dogs,
a chocolate lab named Sinatra and a puppy lab mix named
are hip. They are cool. You never know what itís going
to be," she says. "The treats are always
high-quality and natural. We never worry about giving it
to our dog."
and Powers have been friends since they attended St.
Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Md.
school is super-tiny. There were 85 in our graduating
class. We were friends from the beginning," Riley
even though they went to different colleges ó Riley
went to Georgetown and Powers went to Salisbury ó the
two wound up moving to New York City around the same
time in 2005.
friends remained close while in New York. They would
even meet weekly at Redemption, a Midtown Manhattan bar
that showed Washington Redskins games. Both got dogs
around the same time in the fall of 2016, which led them
to their eventual business partnership.
their lives revolve around the business.
two founders work almost every day of the week, whether
itís in the 700-square-foot basement offices of a
Williamsburg shared office building or going to expos
and dog-related events.
probably more stressful and more enjoyable" than
his old job, says Riley, who left a career in finance to
start up ShaggySwag. "Now we have investors and
shareholders to answer to. Itís more stressful that
way. But itís more enjoyable being around dogs all day
than trading high-yield bonds.
being around dogs all day ó testing products and
treats. Itís totally different from the world I was
in. Me and Matt wear many different hats. Itís really
only two of us. For me, itís a big change."
stepped back from his production business to devote more
attention to ShaggySwag. Powersí background helped the
company get off the ground quicker, according to Riley.
kind of like the perfect team," Riley says. Powers
is "the missing piece. He really has that side of
the equation down to produce strong content. Usually
startups spend a lot of money outsourcing this. Having
this in-house with Matt ó he was the perfect
additional skill set with my operational skill set ó
it was the perfect syncing of individuals."
of course their dogs are regular fixtures in the office.
two dachshunds, Jerry Brows and Figgy, are in the office
brings his two labradoodles, Iverson and Gatsby, a
couple of times a week.
are always in the office," Riley says with a laugh.
"My dogs are 40 pounds each. Itís a good mix of
size versus the two weiner dogs. They get along
two spend most of the day trying out new toys and treats
with their dogs as well as contacting various
manufacturers while trying to curate future boxes, which
arrive monthly to customers in a 12-by-10-inch package.
That package, which starts at $22, contains up to three
toys, two treats and essentials such as grooming wipes
and waste bags. The package also includes an item for
the human owners. That item usually relates to the
seasonal-inspired items in the box. Recently, owners
received a ShaggySwag-branded winter hat.
continue to surprise customers with better and better
products," Powers says. "One of the fun things
for us to do is make a well-curated box. The element of
surprise is part of the experience. When the package
arrives, the dogs are super-excited. Itís like they
know the package is for them."
older dog, Sinatra, has started to know when the monthly
the box comes, he knows that it is a box for him. He
runs up to it. Itís really cute," she said.
"Itís something to look forward to for him every
nice to know that there is something coming because he
does so much for us."