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St. Albert Farmers' Market vendor showcases boutique pet products

Douglas Bailey love of animals was the inspiration to create special luxuries for them
The pet retail market is hot and getting hotter by the year. And it’s one area of commerce Douglas Bailey is tapping in to with a booth at St. Albert Farmers’ Market.

Increasingly what people want for themselves, they also purchase for their pets. So market visitors willingly splurge on luxuries such as pillows, tug toys, leashes, bandanas, treats and pet grooming items, such as a catnip tea, anti-itch spray and a paw balm for cracked skin.

These are all products Bailey hand-makes and sells through his start-up company, Pets With Paws.

Part of the young businessman’s success is a curiosity about the makeup of products and a hard-wired desire to accept new challenges, something he’s never shied away from.

One of his most rewarding and “awesome” challenges as a teenager occurred during his four-year stint at Clarington Air Cadets: Squadron 172 piloting a two-man glider.

“I just enjoy being up high. When they take off, it’s pretty cool,” said Bailey.

“Our glider was attached to a tow plane when we were on the ground. When the tow plane goes up, we go up with it and when we reached a certain height the glider is released."

His mother Kathie, who assists at the market booth, laughed, saying, “He called me and said, ‘This is freakin’ awesome,’ and then hung up.”

Later, at the 2018 Special Olympics National Games in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, he rose to champion status, earning two silver medals in swimming. One was for the 50-metre backstroke, the other for the 50-metre freestyle.

The 21-year old Camrose entrepreneur didn’t write a prospectus or go the bank for a business loan to start Pets With Paws. Bailey simply enjoys staying busy. To fill empty hours in the day, he crafted a bracelet – but not your typical pretty storebought bangle.

Using a knotting technique, the young craftsman braided paracord strands into a survival bracelet, a skill he learned while serving with the Air Cadets.

Paracord, originally used as parachute cord, is a thin, lightweight nylon or polyester rope. Today, its widespread applications extend from NASA, the military, scouts and cadets to survivalists, hikers, climbers and campers.

Survival bracelets are woven from several feet of paracord into a compact wearable form. They are worn and unraveled when needing a rope for any purpose that can range from hanging wet clothes to scaling treacherous terrain.

Bailey started marketing the bracelets while attending a vocational program at Red Deer College following his graduation from Camrose Composite High. As a marketing tool, he hooked them on his backpack and sold them for $10 a pop while walking through hallways.

"They were doing very well – too well. People were asking me to do more than I could handle," said Bailey. "I got offered $20 once. It made me feel good, and I was just starting out."

Sage, his 10-year-old German Shepherd border collie mix, and Molly, his nine-year-old German Shepherd, inspired the novice craftsman to shift direction weaving paracord leashes in multiple colour combinations.

“People really like the Oilers’ orange and blue. And I make the Calgary Flames black and red. And I take orders.”

Bailey absorbs inspiration from his surroundings, ideas he comes across or suggestions from friends. Passionate about cooking, he loves the high-calorie carbs – potatoes, pizza, lasagna and anything fried or barbecued.

Since Molly and Sage have digestive issues, he turned to baking more natural foods for his pets – bone-shaped peanut butter treats, teeth cleaning sticks, and chicken jerky dried in an industrial dehydrator. At his booth, there’s even a rope toy decorated with slices of dehydrated sweet potato.

Molly also displayed itching issues. With assistance from Alberta Health’s Family Managed Services support group, he researched pets’ itching issues and created an anti-itch spray in his home’s kitchen.

“I was making an anti-itch spray for my dog, so why not make it for other dogs?”

He since expanded his personal pet product line to an all-natural oatmeal shampoo and a pet balm for cracked paws. Equally safe and effective for humans, the balm contains olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, Vitamin E, beeswax and a dash of love. (It’s written on the heart-shaped container.)

“I like to hear feedback from people. And I hope their (pets) are happy and enjoy my products.”

Pets with Paws sets up a booth at St. Albert Farmers Market every other week. Bailey returns to the market on Saturday, Aug. 1, located at Servus Place, 400 Campbell Rd.

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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