Invention

How a Kamloops entrepreneur’s invention makes dealing with dog feces less smelly and disgusting | infonews


A dog in Kamloops wearing a WALK STAR litter basket around his neck.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Nicole Duff


02 September 2021 – 07:00






Western Canadian dog lovers can expect to see a one-of-a-kind product on pet store shelves, thanks to a creative Kamloops entrepreneur.

Nicole Duff came up with the idea to make transporting and disposing of used dog poop bags easier and less smelly. After more than three years of hard work, his product hits the shelves of pet stores in Western Canada.

The idea for The WALK STAR Dog Waste Caddy was inspired by Duff’s personal experience as a dog owner.

“I was so happy when my husband agreed to get a dog, but he wasn’t very interested in it,” Duff recalled. “It was my responsibility to clean up the poop bags, which I accepted, but I didn’t want to carry poop bags.

“I looked in pet stores for something to carry the bags and saw giant sections of all sizes and colors of bags, but never the product I was looking for. I realized there were probably other people who felt the same.”

Nicole Duff (left) with husband Neil and family in Kamloops after receiving their first production order from WALK STAR Dog Waste Caddys.

Nicole Duff (left) with husband Neil and family in Kamloops after receiving their first production order from WALK STAR Dog Waste Caddys.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Nicole Duff

Duff said she used a computer program to cut and glue pieces together to design a visual mockup of her idea and sent it to an engineer to turn into files for manufacturing.

“I had a home textile design business where I had textiles made in different countries,” Duff said. “I learned a lot about business and manufacturing which I applied to this new venture. It’s like the first venture groomed me for WALK STAR.”

Duff’s husband, Neil, became her business partner.

“My husband is not a risk taker, but he gave me the green light,” she said. “I jumped in. I’m creative and taking risks while he’s more balanced, we’re both a great team, we balance each other out.”

The Duffs began developing the product more than three years ago. The bottom part of the tumbler is made of silicone and the top half has a resealable cap designed to prevent odors from escaping. She said the cart can expand to accommodate a Great Dane’s poop bag.

“We manufacture in China because there are no factories in Canada that do this stuff and the cost of manufacturing in the United States is too high,” she said. “At first, language barriers and opposing time zones slowed things down. Then COVID hit and factories in China shut down. We haven’t received a response for weeks. It took time for the factories to get back up and running. with another team called Sofeast, based in Maryland, which helps companies manufacture. Sofeast provided us with a Chinese speaker and helped us navigate which really speeded things up.

Duff said the product and company name didn’t come up right away, and those they were considering were already registered.

“The name was inspired by my grandmother, who is a very strong woman,” Duff said. “She ended up falling and breaking her pelvis, and after healing so well she only needed a cane to walk, a friend of mine called her a Walk Star. I found the name cute so I used it.”

Anipet Animal Supplies is a Surrey pet supply distributor that will be supplying pet stores across Western Canada with WALK STAR dog waste bins and has already received orders. Duff said she was a planner and set monthly and annual financial goals for the business.

“I have big goals,” Duff said. “A friend of ours who makes equine products for sale in pet stores put us in touch with an international distributor who loves the caddy. We just sent out samples two days ago and are waiting to see what happens next .”



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