We had the good fortune of connecting with Beth Herriman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Beth, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It wasn’t so much of an idea for a business, as much as a desperate need at the time. We were fostering 2 bassets and each time they’d have to go out, they had to be on leash. Both desperate to get away, dropping a leash was not optional, and of course I’d have to scoop their poops. I needed three hands. Since that wasn’t possible, I needed something that was fast and easy to use to maintain leash control. The dooloop came out of that.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Without intending to, this business shows that it’s never too late to begin something completely new. My background was clothing design and retail, but I’ve been home with kids and pets. Finally the kids were launched, pets dead, I didn’t know what to do next, dog poop wasn’t on my life’s “Bingo card”, but often the challenge is the gift.
I’m passionate about the dooloop in that I know that they make life easier, that makes it easy for me to talk about them. As this is my ‘baby’ up front decisions were to do things my way, even if it wasn’t ‘the business’ way. To that end, packaging and manufacturing are all local, eco and minimal, with living wages baked into the costs. I don’t want to make them in China – we can do this here and they are still <$10.
I honestly had little to prepare me for what has come and what I’ve had to learn. None of what I do is hard, except IT and accounting, algorithms…. But there is just a lot to juggle, it’s a lot more complicated than juggling poop and leashes, that much I’ll say. There are people who are good at all the things I’m not, it’s about finding them. What’s also important is that they are aligned with the goals – make a bigger pie, not just try to get the biggest piece. Dooloops are at the point where it’s definitely too big for just me, but not big enough to have full-time help, so I’m relying on contracting with people. Eventually it’d be nice to have a team to ‘come home to’.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Portland ME, I love you!!! Portland ME is just the best. It’s small, really small compared to most ‘cities’, but it packs a lot of stuff to do. First, the food. If you eat at a chain, you’re wasting a meal – and when in ME, you don’t want to do that. Seafood, of course, but there is just such variety and deliciousness. From very high end, Fore Street, to food trucks. Restaurants that are meh, don’t last – the competition is too high. The bakery game is insane. Standard Baking, per my Parisian friend has better baguettes than you get in France today. Tandem and their biscuits, Scratch in South Portland is a ‘bagel’ haven, and honestly that is just ‘scratching the surface. It’s really what you in the mood for, there is something for everyone.
The brewery and distillery scene is hopping if you like to try micro brews, bring your dog – most are family friendly, often food trucks are there, sometimes entertainment….fun to hang out with friends weather permitting.
Wandering the city is a great way to spend time. Hills, book stores, museums, historic homes, cobble streets, art galleries, mom and pop stores. And then there are daily things like the mail boat, which stops at all the islands in Casco Bay. It’s also fun to take a ferry to an island and bike or walk around, have a beach day. If you like beaches in Cape Elizabeth, Crescent Beach is great and you can walk up to Inn by the Sea and have a lovely meal – or a bit further and get homemade ice cream!
If light houses are of interest, Ft. Williams, with gardens and a lighthouse commissioned by George Washington is nearby – also the best lobster rolls IMHO from a food truck “Bite into Maine”. There is also Two Lights State Park, Winslow Homer, Hopper all painted in that area – and if fried clams are your thing, the Lobster Shack is right there.
Honestly, ME is a place that people come to lay back. There are lakes to visit, shores and parks to hike, but no matter where you are, the vibe is always super casual.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people! I’ve had lots of ‘ideas’ over the years, this is the first that I’ve pursued. Risk taking, fear of failure, has been a big through thread in my life. So, who to credit in getting things this far? It’s a long list. The excellent work by Arcadia Design in transforming my handmade dooloop into a shape that is iconic, and Design Lab on the initial graphics and logo. SCORE mentor Jeff who advised and asked hard questions. ‘Cause digital, a marketing firm specializing in the pet space, it’s people-pet centric, and an incredible resource. I’ve had help doing assembly from neighbors and friends. My brother and friends who came and did trade shows with me as well as being ‘beta’ testers and the reason that I knew it was worth doing. I’ve been a scavenger for advice, every day I learn, literally. I’ve had help from Maine small business groups, other small business owners. Local stores, when dooloops were still prototypes…and friends like Bettina Egli who especially at the beginning, when I would get overwhelmed by the whole thing, would say ‘just take the next step’. If you don’t want to go further, don’t, but don’t worry. Just do the next thing. I also have to thank the stores who have bought dooloops, it’s a new classification in a very big industry. It’s utterly new – so they along with me, have to educate about the idea as well as just slinging them onto a shelf. And also, people like yourselves, who’ve taken an interest and help me amplify ‘it’s here it’s here!’ Since dog poop has become my business, I get a lot of information about it, it’s really important that we do our best to keep it off the ground and dispose of it in the best way we can.