Isn’t it the worst when you go out and splurge on a chic new pet bed (that matches your decor, no less) only to have your furry friend make a mess of it? Pee, vomit, other stuff…it all happens eventually. Then you have to toss it can buy another. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Not anymore! Say hello to GEMMA, a brand new pet brand launched by Blake Sterling. Sterling has been working on this for roughly a decade and ticked off all his priorities off along the way: 100% washable inside and out (yay!!!), hypoallergenic filling, a zipper cover and tough material to deter chewing, a pet-hair-hiding neutral fabric, an affordable price tag, and recycled fabric.
Those are all sizable benefits to any pet owner, but it’s the last one–recycled fabric–that Sterling spent the better part of his research on.
Out of the 50 billion bottles of water being bought each year, 80% end up in a landfill, even though recycling programs exist, the site explains. So GEMMA uses recycled plastic bottles to create its yarn. 75-150 bottles are recycled, turned into tiny plastic flakes, and spun into a soft, durable yarn for each soft and cozy bed.
Aside from startup life, Sterling has also made animals in a need a priority. He rescued his first pet, an abandoned pitbull named Gemma who serves as the inspiration for the company, at the age of 19. As a result, GEMMA is passionate about helping pets in need, donating a percentage of its profits to Best Friends Animal Society, the nation’s largest no-kill pet sanctuary.
“I’ve been dedicated to helping animals well before I rescued my first dog, Gemma, after she escaped a dog fighting ring when she was barely 6 months old,” said Sterling. “I’ve also been volunteering for beach cleanups and trash pickups since I was in elementary school, and have seen with my own eyes that plastic pollution in our oceans is an epidemic. So when I came up for the idea for the perfect pet bed almost ten years ago, I knew I wanted to combine my passions to create a sustainable, luxury product that also gave back to animals in need (while looking completely chic!). Now, I am thrilled to finally see this idea come to life.”
Sterling gave a little insight into the development of GEMMA below:
A startup is serious business. How did you get it going?
I had the idea over ten years ago when I quickly realized that I was allergic to my rescue, Gemma. There wasn’t a fully washable bed on the market with a chic, minimalist design so I felt it was my mission to create one. I started with about a year’s worth of research asking pet owners what was missing from their pets bed and what would make it “perfect,” visted every pet store in town and scoured the internet for all the data I could find. My brand advisor, Stephen, launched Martha Stewart Pets, amongst many other brands, and has worked with Petco, Petsmart and Chewy.com for years so he’s been also an invaluable resource.
What’s the one detail that was non-negotiable with this product–that you made sure made it into either the design or concept?
Our pet can be precious messy monsters, so our beds had to be 100% washable inside and out. I have thrown away too many beds to count that were pooped, peed, and vomited on because the inside couldn’t be washed. So ours can be fully taken apart for a quick wash of the outside fabric or a full cleaning of the inner stuffing.
How did you find/choose Best Friends Animal Society?
I’ve been volunteering at shelters and with various rescue groups for over a decade. When I found out that Best Friends was the largest no kill animal sanctuary in the nation I wanted to see first hand how they operate. I visited their location in SoHo and was beyond inspired so I decided that their animals should benefit from every purchase during our launch. They produce dozens of dog and cat adoption events a year and have an incredible infrastructure that brings together other rescue groups for super adoption events to “Save Them All”–how could you not love Best Friends with a mission like that?!
How have your product-testers reacted to the beds?
When I decided to make my GEMMA dream a reality, I knew I had to rescue a dog to serve as a daily reminder of our mission. Peanut (above) was rescued from a Tennessee kill shelter and has become our in house product tester and is hilariously obsessed with our beds. Whenever we do product shoots she gets tons of treats so she’s equated her GEMMA bed with treat time and is always trying to jump in our product samples at home and show what a good girl she is being–she then quickly falls asleep when treats don’t follow.
Head over to shop GEMMA now.
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