It is a known fact that Geeks love their Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Comics/Anime, you name it. If we didn’t there wouldn’t be conventions like Phoenix Comicon. Equal to that love, if not above it is our love for our pets. Whether they be furry, finned, or scaly, we dote on those creatures like nobody’s business.
At Phoenix Comicon 2016, I located my friends Nicole and Kiba the Cosplay Corgi, at the Crescent Canines booth. I was surprised by all the geek related pet merchandise.
Nicole told me that she will only buy collars, leashes, etc from Crescent Canines because of their quality. Naturally I had to learn more. I wanted to come back to the booth when I had time to chat, but there was so much awesome going on that I never made it back there. So after the convention I contacted Nicole and asked her to help me get in touch with Crescent Canines. What follows is a moving story about overcoming hardship, filling a void in the market, and doing something amazing.
Ravyn of Crescent Canines says “the idea to create custom pet products of the highest quality began as a necessity, on many levels”. It’s a long story, but in a nutshell she explained that after sustaining a serious injury which led to the diagnosis of low bone density, she spent several days in the hospital. She was told by the emergency room doctor that her condition and the injury should have killed her. Fortunately for her friends, family, and pet lovers she survived, with three pins in her hip, but was later left laying on her mother’s couch, unable to walk. Now for the rest of us that would be pretty horrible, however Raveyn was also diagnosed with PTSD at the age of 13. She says “nightmares are especially prominent for me. I’m genuinely afraid all the time, so being unable to get up to escape danger had me petrified. After getting some help and getting my now husband here from England, the decision was made that what would help me most was having a dog. It was the only way to get my life back, at all”.
Any pet owner will tell you, finding the right animal is important. So Raveyn and her husband spent months looking for the right dog. She found Lakoda, a German Shepherd/Husky mix who “had been abandoned over a $100 vet bill. He could have died from the infection on his paw, I could have died from the broken hip and the artery it was so close to tearing. His story hit home, and he was trapped in a boarding facility. He stank to high heaven and was afraid of so much. I had to take him home”!
The day she got Lakoda, it was decided the best thing to do was walk him around the neighborhood first, so he could get familiar with the area. This had the added benefit of fulfilling Raeyn’s walking practice/excercise requirements. They took a nearby nature trail, and Lakoda (a one year old puppy) pulled on the lead. With a snap his collar broke, and he was free!
Any dog owner who has a pet somehow get loose (whether by breaking collars, slipping out of harnesses, or in the case of my childhood dog, snapping bullchains, and then later learning how to unhook them), knows this is a panic filled moment. For Ravyen it was much worse. Lakoda had no sense of where his new home was. He had been left in a kennel, and now was unrestrained. Would he run for it? If so, Raveyn knew she couldn’t even try to catch him. In her own words, “Luckily, my husband, Robin, managed to grab Lakoda and wrap the leash around in a makeshift collar. While walking back the leash snapped, too! I could not believe it”!
After that experience, they immediately replaced both collar and leash. While the next leash didn’t break, she told me the handle thread was starting to come loose, and his collar broke off at the buckle. Naturally they replaced them. Once again, parts started failing. In this case the D-ring for the tags split. It almost sounds humorous when she says “my new dog didn’t just pull, he seemed to be at war with the leash”. How many of us fear losing our beloved non-human family members? How many of us would work on a solution for faulty merchandise? Raveyn started sewing. At first she tried finding high quality collars that had the materials, experience, and finishing she wanted. They all cost a fortune.
With her goal in mind, she spent half a year brutally testing her designs. They used webbing and a car to pull off tree limbs in order to test the strength. For the past 3 and a half years Raveyn has sold these collars. Additionally she has donated several hundred dollars worth to local rescues, who she says “further tested the materials”! Her reaction to learning that Nicole wanted them to make something for Kiba was that “We were super excited”. Kiba got a Zelda themed collar, and the first leash Raveyn made. While she feels the quality of that item was low enough to give it to Nicole for free, “it’s lasted her over two years of being dragged around on the floor and very frequent, daily use”.
Raveyn/Crescent Canines started over three years ago, selling the collars and leashes at Phoenix ComiCon, but got serious about selling them that first year at Tucson Comic Con. The factor that made the difference – having some repeat customers who were impressed by the quality. Now this explains why she started making collars and leashes, but what about the geek culture themes? She loves comics, games, movies, and television, plus there wasn’t anything like it around. Initially her first few collar designs were Halloween themed. It made sense, since she got Lakoda in October and she has “a Halloween obsession, but I soon expanded as more and more of my friends asked for comic related items”. First the dog collars got the geek culture treatment, then the leashes. Sometime after that is was cat collars, then different sizes and widths. Eventualy she branched into shampoos and treats. Raveyn expanded on her merchanidse with head halters, beds, and harnesses. Equine halters are her newest product.
Other than adding video game or comic book characters to the material what makes her products different from the rest? In a word, quality. Crsecent Canines uses expensive parts which means they make very little profit. Ultimately she gets to be really proud of her merchandise because she knows they are well made. To further support her claim of quality, “several service dog handlers trust my work, and I’m the only place Kiba gets his collars from, as Nicole trusts my quality above all others”. Raveyn is so set on using high quality materials that “if I wouldn’t use an item on my huge, strong dogs, I do not sell it”.
In addition to the cost of the materials reducing her profit, Raveyn also donates a large portion of the money received to rescue groups. In fact she told me that in 2015 $560 worth of merchandise went to local pet rescue groups, and that one of her original intentions was to benefit those organizations. One such group that she supports is Friends for Animal Care and Control. This group provides low cost or free spay and neuter clinics. Given the seemingly ever growing issue of feral cats, and now dogs roaming neighborhoods across the country, this is a great alternative to otherwise hundreds of homeless animals dying in shelters each week. It’s heartbreaking, and Raveyn “pray[s] for the day that the animal pound is only for lost dogs and strays, and every dog born gets a home”.
Though the profits are low, the business is vital to her family. She said they rely on collar sales to supplement income lost due to her health. Crescent Canines isn’t just Raveyn though. Her husband, Robin takes photos, her stepfather Roger helps with inventory, her mother Jhennicea, helps her figure out new and better ways to do things, her brother Tim helps with design ideas, and her “wonderful sister” Evea does sales and pricing! Talk about a team effort! Raveyn also informed me that “Evea is the one constantly pressuring me to come up with new and better products, and to go for higher and higher quality”.
Despite doing conventions for ten years, Raveyn says “these collars are the product I see making the most difference. They’re hard to make, and the parts are very pricey. Every convention gives us a huge risk of not only not breaking even, but actually taking a huge financial hit. I strive to have the highest quality, at affordable price, and we partner with awesome people like Nicole and Kiba to help show that off”.
I grew up hearing that “you get what you pay for”. In the case of Crescent Canines, it seems like the buyer gets a lot more than that. Look for their booths at upcoming conventions, and give their products a try. Who knows, it might make the difference in keeping your pet safe.