Doggy Bathroom: A conversation between man and his best friend.
Sterling: Woof Dad - good morning! Are you ready to tell our story?
Alain: Good morning, Sterling. Yes, I am!
Sterling: Before we get started, may I have another treat? Plllllease?
Alain: You've already had three blueberries and three raspberries - I think you can wait until after we're done with the interview.
Sterling: Ok fine. But I'll remember that.
Alain: Sterling – be a good boy.
Sterling: Remember when I was a young pup, just 11 weeks old, and you brought me home for the first time? And you put me out in the freezing snow at -20 and expected me to do my business? Remember that?
Alain: I remember struggling to even get you past the stoop of our building.
Sterling: Yeah - that was not cool. But I'm happy it happened because we created something new together that would change pet ownership - furever.
Alain: We did. I had no idea that you'd transform my design business into a whole new one.
Sterling: You're welcome
Alain (laughs): I didn't say thank you.
Sterling: Dad – tell everyone what the Doggy Bathroom is and why it's important?
Alain: Happy to, Sterling. It's a litter box (the first of its kind) for small dogs with vertical pee pads inside for leg lifters like you. Even though I designed it (sorry, we designed it) for male dogs, we have many female dog clients who also enjoy all the benefits of the Doggy Bathroom. It has a rubberized base to keep it securely in place and we came up with some stylish mats at the entrance to add a touch of lux and personalization. It’s important because the companionship that dogs offer is a great way to help us to live mentally healthier lives. But - as you know, severe weather conditions, condo living, and other obstacles to dog’s bathroom needs often dissuade people from forming this connection and the Doggy Bathroom is changing all of that. We are widening the audience of dog ownership.
Sterling: I love it! It’s like a private ensuite for us small dogs!
Alain: So far, we've sold over 10,000 Doggy Bathrooms since 2019 throughout North America and we are thrilled to be expanding to Europe. We're launching the product and also a very special artist edition at Maison & Objet in Paris this September.
Sterling: Oh yes - Paris. Why am I not invited again?
Alain: I'll bring you back something special. Promise.
Sterling: Dad – you’ve always been a designer. And let's face it - the Doggy Bathroom is a “litter box for dogs” where we do our business, but somehow you made it look super neat and stylish. I know before I came along you were an interior designer and worked on some cool residential and commercial projects all over the place. Do you think that experience helped you design the Doggy Bathroom?
Alain: My design experience is all about reinventing what needed help or might have been less desirable to some. I always found it thrilling to take on the worst spaces or products, and transform them into something great beyond anyone’s expectations. I think that is my favourite part of design - extreme transformations. Or, in this case, how sexy can I make a dog litter box lol. Picking up after your dog and cleaning up accidents is the least enjoyable part of owning a dog, no offence.
Alain: I refused to accept that a product like this didn’t already, so I decided to do it myself and bring it to market first. Creating the Doggy Bathroom brand came very naturally, but that’s probably because I had such a handsome model.
Sterling: Good answer. Tell us more about the design, Daddio.
Alain: The Doggy Bathroom was created with distinct and clean lines so that it’s very easy for dogs to recognize. Many clients buy multiple units to have on various levels of their home as well as in secondary residences. The units are especially effective when they’re used as part of a puppy’s training at an early age (because, after all, puppies make the best students, right Sterling?!). I’m convinced that giving your dog the independence to go when they naturally need to makes for a happier and healthier dog. But also, as many dog owners would admit: You either lay out a pee pad for them on the floor, or you deal with accidents all over your house, which can get stinky. Trust me - I had to change our floors. Remember that, Sterling?
Sterling: What? Because of me?
Alain: YES, because of you!! I’m addressing a real-world problem and I think we can all agree - The Doggy Bathroom is far more effective than just a pee pad on the floor.
The Doggy Bathroom is also making its debut in hotels. We just launched our pilot project with the Kimpton Saint George in Toronto. It’s great to see the product become such a mainstream object. Every day that goes by, I see our Doggy Bathroom take on a life of its own. I think that’s because it’s such a logical product and deals with a real-world problem of pet ownership – and, in this case, travelling with dogs, which is also on the rise. So, I am thrilled about this new partnership.
Sterling: And, while dealing with potty issues, we created a system that is both practical and aesthetically appealing.
Alain: That was the end goal: To create a tool that helps people live harmoniously with their small dogs. It keeps everything contained in a one-piece unit that is easy to clean and allows for a happier, cleaner, more hygienic environment. It truly answers a realistic part of living with a small dog. Small dogs have small bladders and a high metabolism which causes them to potty more often - like every couple hours.
Sterling: Tell us more about the launch, Dad. It's my favourite part of our story.
Alain: Well, as you may remember, the very first Doggy Bathroom was just a plastic bin that I cut up and lined with pee pads. It looked awful and wasn't that easy to clean. Once I decided to come up with a better model and after a few months at the drafting board and prototyping, the first Doggy Bathroom sample was ready to be showcased. I chose to reveal the concept at SuperZoo in Las Vegas in 2018. We were greeted with rave reviews and that gave me the confidence to come back to Montreal and launch it on Kickstarter, which ended up raising over $45k. After that I travelled to China to have the moulds built along with the first 2,000 Doggy Bathrooms, which sold out in six months. After that, right before the pandemic, we brought the moulds to Montreal, and started manufacturing the Doggy Bathrooms in Canada.
Sterling: What about my littler friends? Can they use our Doggy Bathroom? Or what about the dogs who live far away?
Alain: Of course! Last October we launched the mini version of the Doggy Bathroom for dogs weighing 10 pounds or less to meet the demand for a smaller unit – over 700 units were pre-sold raising over $100,000. Today, the Doggy Bathroom has earned seven design patents around the world and we just got our utility patent in the United States, so that makes eight patents which is really exciting. Requests pour in from all around the world from places like Australia, Asia, and beyond.
Sterling: When do we get to tell the world about the new artist edition?! We’ve been working on it for so long - I can't wait to share it with all my friends. It’s really beautiful and it makes me so happy.
Alain: You know your dad loves art as much as he does design. I really wanted to create a special edition and integrate art into our product line. I owe so much to art education, and if you ask me, every great designer is a true artist. I appreciate and relate to the playfulness and lightheartedness of Keith Haring’s work, and it has been truly an honour for me to have had the privilege to work with his art and incorporate it into the special edition that is being unveiled at Maison & Objet in Paris.
Sterling: Right, the trip I don’t get to go on… thanks for reminding me.
Sterling: Where can other dogs buy a Doggy Bathroom?
Alain: They can order their Doggy Bathroom directly from our website.
Sterling: Thanks Dad! Is it coffee time now?