Putting on the Dog: Alumna Pairs Start-Up Apparel Business with Support for Animal Rescue

When Kelsey Harvey ’13 saw the black and fawn-colored puppy being offered for adoption at a Syracuse-area rescue organip42-goldzation, it was love at first sight.

“My parents always rescued dogs,” said the Liverpool, N.Y., native, who carried forth the tradition when she rescued Maya in 2015. “I think my love for dogs came from my parents and the memories we created with our pups, as a family (including brother Will ’18).”

Rescued dogs sparked Harvey’s creation of her new company, Barklyn Grace, which features a trendy line of dog-branded apparel and accessories. Her goal is to give dog lovers high-quality products with quirky-cute designs, all while donating 10 percent of net profits to animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Barklyn Grace—joining the name of the Harvey family’s first rescue, Grace, with the stylings of freelance graphic designer and friend Shane LaChance ’13—launched in February 2016. Less than one year later,it has almost 20,000 combined followers among all of its social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), and 300 brand ambassadors.

Products range from water bottles to sweatshirts to caps to jewelry. Visit Barklyn Grace at www.barklyn-grace.com and on Instragram, Twitter and Facebook as /barklyngrace.

Why do you donate a portion of Barklyn Grace sales to charity?

There are far too many homeless dogs in the streets, mistreated, abused or not “perfect” enough to be a show dog. I wanted to find a way to give back by creating an appealing brand identity with a philanthropic approach. People want to help, and they want to be a part of something growing and something great.

What kind of feedback are you getting from customers?

People are really latching on to Barklyn Grace! People love to help spread the word, to take pictures in their apparel or with their product. Social media is so, so popular and beneficial, that most of my success comes from people sharing, posting and basically promoting my product on their feed. It’s a pretty exciting time.

What has been the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur?

I play every role in my business, and it can be time-consuming. You want to reply to anyone and everyone; you want to follow-up and make sure things are going well. You’re in charge of growing the business, getting the word out and finding the best ways to entice people to want to share your product and your offering and your mission. It’s always going to be a learning curve, but it’s definitely worth the adrenaline rush.

Is Barklyn your primary job?

You can call it my second full-time job! I work as a digital marketing manager for environment, health and safety company SGS Galson in Syracuse, N.Y. Marketing is such a cool field, and techniques are always changing.

What advice do you have for others who want to start a business?

I encourage everyone to at least try it. It’s definitely a risk, but if you hit the right audience with the right message, you never know what it could become. Barklyn Grace is just beginning; it’s my baby, and I will control the success or the failure.

How would you describe your Oswego experience?

I loved Oswego. It will forever be the best four years of my life. My involvement as president of the American Marketing Society helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my life. A combination of everything—the people, the classes, the weather (not really), the staff—was so great. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

—Eileen Crandall

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