Meet Green Dog Designs. Established San Francisco-based designers Emma Kate & Priscilla Barroso are at the forefront of the next generation of entrepreneurs with a social conscience. Their business ethos includes giving back to communities in need and helping to reduce carbon footprints via sustainable manufacturing at home. They’re two lovely, gifted gals who walk the walk, and are dedicated to changing the landscape of consumer-waste, one doggie fashion statement at a time. Graduates of San Francisco’s Art Institute of California – Kate, with a degree in fashion marketing and Barroso, in fashion design –they created their eco-friendly canine couture line while still in school, combing their love for animals and vintage style. Their latest line of apparel is ‘African Collection,’ a collaboration with the Mashiah Foundation to introduce an African line of apparel.
The Mashiah foundation reaches out to women and children infected with or affected by AIDS/HIV in Nigeria. Women in this organization have worked with Green Dog Designs to create their latest line for their canine fashion collection, featuring sustainable fabrics made by the Mashiah Foundation women and designs developed by Kate and Barroso.
A portion of the proceeds form the African Connection line will go towards the daily lives of the Nigerian women through the purchase of medicine, food and supplies.
“The collection is our way of making a global change where we can alter an entire state of being with the ingenuity of resources and the opportunity to give back,” says Barroso.
I had a telephone chat with Priscilla Barroso. Emma Kate responded to questions via email.
Here’s what they had to say.
Tell us about the newly launched “African Collection” – why did you chose to collaborate with the Mashiah Foundation?
Priscilla: Actually it was a matter of fate, really. My mother is an actual humanitarian, so she goes to African two to three times a year. And she came across them on her trip to Nigeria. She walked into the facility and just immediately thought about us. We’ve been waiting to do something, to give back in a serious way. And, as fas as our entire aesthetic, it’s really infused with Africa. The colours, the vibrancy of the nature, of just the way they live, immediately related to us. My mom was the initiator. She met with them and told them about what we’ve been doing and we them samples – it was back and forth for a little bit. We pretty much gave them entire creative control, when it came down to the fabrics being chosen and the combination being presented. It was a complete collaboration. We suppled the patterns for which it was based off Japanese-inspired ideas; three different ones, the Kora Kora coat, the Boasie cape and the Pickney dress, which are African names related to the line and the village.
In your eyes, what makes a good collection?
PB: Oh wow, something striking, a sense of originality, something you are comfortable with, but may not have seen presented that way before. I think those are the three elements that catch my eye, but also keep me interested.
Emma Kate: ” In my eyes a good collection comes together when there is a purpose for it. It it is made with love and soul and for a good cause. The colors and details of the season matter to an extent in human clothing. But, when it comes to dog clothing they can wear anything anytime.”
What makes your product unique?
PB: Our product is unique in many ways. Foremost, we have quite a few variations of designs within our one company. We don’t necessarily follow trends. We’re sort of marking our own path, creating our own trends – the timelessness of vintage fabrics, the novelties of the checks, the comfort of cashmere, all of this recycled material is an interesting way to go about it. Couture, but, a new sense of couture.
We still consider ourselves designers.
Emma Kate: ” Our product is unique because every piece is Hand Made and one of a kind, also they are completely reversible. The amount of work and love that goes into every piece is remarkable. There is not another dog clothing company out there like Green Dog Designs.”
Does fashion influence how you create a product?
PB: Yes, defiantly. I think our own fashion influence our products – not so much dress like your dogs, but to have your dog simulate your own style . I think there is a sense of quirkiness, that we really admire and we’re starting to promote . At the same time, we’re promoting a green industry relating that to the average American public , sort of breaking the stereotypes. When it comes clothing in general, (green) has got a little bit of bad rap, so we’re bringing in more colour and life into that idea.
You have a background in Fine Arts, correct?
Emma and I both met at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco. She was doing Fashion Marketing and I was studying Fashion Design. We’re both graduated now. It was a great journey. We started together in my kitchen, making clothes for our dogs.
We received a lot of fun feedback from people around us and support. We decided to just go for it. Its been a journey ever since.
What does the future hold for Green Dog Designs?
PB: We’re looking at doing a children’s line.
Bianca, we started out doing this ourselves, we had a small community of sewers. We’re working with a sustainable sewing facility m.i.o ( Made In Oakland). They’re brand new, a first-of-its-kind ( artisan sample development & production facility).
We’re really blessed to have them in the Bay area. We’re working with them to do the mass production of our cape coasts, as well our organic sheep wool. They know how to abide by organic regulations and containment processes. We’re working with them closely, and so perhaps we will be working with them on the children’s line.