“My dog is really a unicorn,” Taylor Bringard’s shirt said.
Zelda the Unidog is a 1-year-old Australian shepherd who brings magic to San Luis Obispo County. The therapy-dog-in-training can often be seen with her family at Creeky Tiki and Tails in downtown San Luis Obispo, sporting a sparkly unicorn horn and a colorful leash.
Brooklyn Owl, which is based in Brooklyn, New York, is a high quality accessory company that was created by Bringard’s best friend, Annie Bruce, in 2010. Initially, Bruce created the brand’s unique unicorn horn headbands per a request from her daughter, but they soon began to catch people’s attention in Brooklyn. As a result, Bruce started her own Etsy shop and the horns expanded to shops and a wholesale studio.
Last year, a Brooklyn Owl storefront officially opened in Brooklyn, where they sell unicorn horns, apparel and accessories for pets and humans alike. According to Bruce, Brooklyn Owl now retails to about 800 stores on every continent except for Antarctica. Locally, their products can be found at Whiz Kids in downtown San Luis Obispo.
“We love the unicorn horns. They’re beautifully made, hand-crafted, very unique,” Whiz Kids owner Lisa Smith said.
Bringard does marketing for Brooklyn Owl, and Zelda is the official Unidog of the company. Bringard’s two children, Hartlynn and Noah, model for Brooklyn Owl and are constantly posing with Zelda.
“[Zelda] kind of just became the Unidog,” Bringard said. “I ended up making her an Instagram account, and she just photographed so well.”
With the opening of the Brooklyn Owl storefront came the opportunity to expand their line of products. Bringard had seen rope leashes on Instagram and thought they would be a good addition to the store.
“I said, ‘Let me get a shot at trying to make them,’ so I spent, like, three months or so just getting [the leashes] perfected,” Bringard said.
Bringard and Bruce decided the Unidog Leashes would be a collaborative product with Brooklyn Owl. The four leash designs Bringard initially made corresponded with four other unicorn horns and were only available in-store.
As Bringard shared more pictures of leashes, more people wanted to buy them. So the leashes were added to the Brooklyn Owl website for online purchases.
In mid-December 2017, Bringard opened her Unidog Leash Etsy shop as a creative outlet.
“The Etsy shop is like my hub for when I’m not making leashes for a store or wholesaling; I just throw dye onto whatever I feel like,” Bringard said.
Bringard converted her garage into a workshop where she makes a variety of leashes, some of which were “total accidents,” such as the graffiti and street-art leashes. She mixes her dyes to make leashes that look “completely different.” Bringard switches up her dyeing and drying styles, comparing the process to tie-dyeing. Bringard said that to her knowledge, Unidog Leashes are the only rope leashes made with glitter.
“I love that Taylor is making the leashes and innovating the design for our customers, from the glitter to the tassels and the color combinations,” Bruce said.
Bringard donated earnings from the Unidog Leashes and $5 from each sale to Woods Humane Society for the month of January. She plans to donate to Rita’s Rainbows in February.
“My favorite part about [having a business in San Luis Obispo] is being able to stay home with my kids … my job is to make leashes, but it’s also to be magical and wear unicorn horns and take pictures at the beach,” Bringard said.
As of now, Bringard is content with where she is in business. She is continuing to experiment with different leash designs and is planning to appear at more local vending events. Bringard and Bruce hope to continue to spread Brooklyn Owl and its values around the world.
“We hope we can use products to bring joy to [the customers’] lives,” Bruce said. “We want to help them be the magical unicorns that they already are.”