We had the good fortune of connecting with Mandy Boutelle and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mandy, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Online presence and a like-minded community. Woof Cultr would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for the online, positive reinforcement-based dog training community and their passion in advocating for eliminating the use of aversive training methods within the dog training industry. As a former trainer that is equally as passionate about this topic – I was already a part of this online community and saw that this was what was missing from it. This (Woof Cultr) was also something that could bring people together in a different way while really showcasing our values and methods as dog professionals. With social media, it was much easier to get in front of my niched target audience because I was creating things I myself wanted, but wasn’t yet being made and could then post it (and use commonly used hashtags within our industry) to insert our brand to be seen by the right people. We grew our entire following organically while staying within our niche just from being reshared/posted/tagged, etc. Which I feel is very important when you’re trying to stay true to your businesses purpose and not fall into the ploy of buying followers or shifting gears with your values in order to gain more of a following/popularity.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Woof Cultr was created on a whim back in February 2019 and I think that can sometimes be when the best ideas are started! I was looking for some trendy/cool shirts to wear while out training and dog walking that also touched on my preferred training methods and at the time there wasn’t anything really other than the overly done ‘dog mom’ shirts in cursive writing or really generic “dog trainer” shirts that didn’t interest me. We did a lot of research on how hard it would be to start an ecommerce business while using a print on demand service so that we could reach a wider audience without having to do all the printing ourselves and limiting our reach. I was still a full time trainer/walker so I couldn’t spend more time printing, packing and mailing shirts out across the country and we knew this would be the only way to go about it if we wanted to be successful. It wasn’t too hard once we got the ball rolling and got to work on making designs that would speak to our audience. It was pretty overwhelming the first several months while we worked out all of the kinks, system errors and really figuring out the direction we wanted to head in while still working full time.
When the COVID19 pandemic hit hard in March 2020 we decided that was the push I needed to go into Woof Cultr full time and step back from training. I KNEW Woof Cultr had the potential to be bigger than what it was previous year but I couldn’t have made that happen if I didn’t lean fully into it and give it all of my time. I spent time seeing what folks like, followed trends, connected with conferences, made more relationships with more established people in the (dog training) industry and through a lot of trial and error finally started seeing the results I wanted.
It definitely was not easy by any means, there are a lot of people out there that message me saying they loved my online store until they saw that I only support positive, force-free training methods and in the beginning that hate got the best of me. I second guessed our mission, I wondered if I should pull back from that and be more general to cater to more people so that we could grow faster. My values and my mission were what was most important to me and I realized that my business should not matter or be gaged by the amount of followers or likes had, what mattered was the impact we were making, the conversations that were starting and how we could help bring more attention to changing how we approach training with our animals. Once I reminded myself of that – my follower or like count didn’t matter and I fully started to enjoy what I was doing and loved how I could connect with people who had my same views.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Honestly I would not have even became so passionate about advocating for the use of humane training methods if I hadn’t met my now husband, Josh in 2014 when he was a professional dog walker. He was looking to hire another employee on and I wanted out of the cosmetology industry so he sent me to the dog*biz Dog Walking Academy where I spent 4 intensive days learning how to be a certified professional dog walker all while only using positive reinforcement- based training methods. Then I was just hungry for more of an education so I enrolled in the Dog Training Internship Academy in San Francisco where I spent 5 months learning even more about humane training methods and I think just with obtaining that knowledge I realized I wanted everything I was learning put onto shirts so that people could ask questions and we could start more conversations about humane training.
Other: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/an-interview-with-woof-cultr/id1542725828?i=1000516503152 https://podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/advocating-within-our-profession/id1393222014?i=1000487733643
Mandy! Loved your interview. So articulate, and on point with your stuff.