Karla Lange-Smith grows Pawdel New Zealand in a dog-loving country

Karla of Pawdel New Zealand

Written by Cora Llamas

Content strategist, project manager, and reluctant cat whisperer. 🙂 Going back to my love of and care for pets. Used to have a lot of dogs years ago until life and work happened. Now I still got an azkal-jack-russell terrier and a cat who keeps on insinuating herself in my life. My 5-year-old grandnephew loves pets so who knows? our menagerie just might grow.

11/25/2021

One November evening, Karla bought an AlphaCollar ‘Lapis’ to see if it’s indeed what it claims in its website — a world-class leather dog collar. As soon as she received it, she was convinced that it’s a product that she wanted to bring to her domestic market. All it took was a leap of faith on a relatively unknown brand from the Philippines.

There are probably three main reasons why Pawdel New Zealand is growing rapidly in the land of cinematic Tolkien a mere six months after its launch in December 2020. First, the country of towering mountains and lush landscapes is a dog-loving country. Second, Pawdel NZ’s founder, Karla Lange-Smith, has been a devoted pet parent for years. Finally, the lady is also a marketer and entrepreneur at heart who combined her skills, knowledge of the market, and passion for the animals to come up with more personalized products that give their PawParents a more “personal look.”

“We have become wholesalers to pet businesses, and inquiries have started to come from Australia,” Karla explains in hushed excitement, as if barely able to believe her success. “We’ve been doing a lot of trade shows. We have been getting sales regularly and almost ran out of stock so many times.”

 

Pawdel's eco-friendly packaging is sustained in New Zealand.
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Pawdel’s eco-friendly packaging is sustained in New Zealand.

 

Pawdel NZ has also become the one-stop shop for pet parents because “we have a gear for every event, and we pet parents do take our pets into so many activities.”  Her customers “treat their pets very well as part of the family. They bring their pets to the veterinarians regularly and get all the gear. We live in a very pet-friendly society.”

Pawdel NZ’s stock in trade consists of personalized dog collars, dog feeders, and pet beds with accompanying mattresses, among many others. A lot of the feedback that Karla gets from her customers says that they like her products’ combination of efficient functionality and aesthetic attractiveness. The pets feel cared for, and it is as if the collars and accessories make their best sides come out.

 

“The collars are quite popular because they are quite beautiful,” affirms Karla. ‘There is nothing like them in New Zealand. It is the first luxury collar with a vintage look which is specific, and we are the first ones to have it.”

 

“The collars are quite popular because they are quite beautiful,” affirms Karla. ‘There is nothing like them in New Zealand. It is the first luxury collar with a vintage look which is specific, and we are the first ones to have it.”
One reason that sparks that personalization is the utmost care that Karla and her husband take in crafting their products and dog gears. The beds and mattresses have their own limited luxury collections—brighter in design than most. The family also plays an important role as Karla’s brother helps her find good leather for the collars and the bags.

 

Bruce, Jessie and Karla
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Bruce, Jessie, and Karla

 

Her husband Bruce, who is a garage carpenter, also looks for and then polishes reclaimed wood for the pet furniture, giving them an extra shine. Karla describes the process: “There are these old buildings that have to be demolished. Bruce takes the wood and makes them into dog furniture or raised feeders.  What we offer are handcrafted from hardwood—and therefore it is rare.”

Then there is the couple’s pet child, Jessie, a part pit bull who constantly reminds Karla of why her online store is important. Even as a happy, healthy puppy, Jessie was aggressive in his play and showed that he did indeed belong to the “tough, fighting breed. We had to socialize him early,” says Karla. The brindle collar she gave him also set him apart.

“Jessie is a very powerful athletic 30-kilo breed and he loves to play,” Karla continues. “We suspected him of being a fighting breed.”  Fortunately, probably because of his early socialization, “he will get along with any kind of dog. We can take him to the local beaches during winter.”

 

“You have 4 million people in the country and about 1 million of us have dogs. There are also 2 million registered domestic cats. The number is increasing 20% every year.”

 

While summer is also ideal for all kinds of dog travel, the beaches are crowded during that time—with people and their pets. “New Zealand is very dog-friendly,” reiterates Karla. “You have 4 million people in the country and about 1 million of us have dogs. There are also 2 million registered domestic cats. The number is increasing 20% every year.”

The evolution of New Zealand’s pet culture has also affected other sectors of its society.  Karla says, “The home or apartment rentals now allow the tenants to have dogs and cats. Some beaches used to be off-limits to pets at certain times, but they now allow them if your dogs are leashed and well-behaved; you also need to pick them up and make sure they are trained.”

 

 

Aside from the personalized touch, Karla’s pet accessories also reflect a lot of the animal culture in New Zealand. “There is so much space in the country and the dogs are high-energy and athletic because they can enjoy a lot of action,” she explains. “The seasons matter when you pick the color of the design. Also important is whether the pet parents and their dogs live on the farm or the coast. Blush, blues, and greens are still the popular colors.”

Karla’s exposure to pet care happened at a very early age as she was raised by a pet-loving family in the Philippines. While parents and siblings had the usual retinue of dogs and cats, an uncle who was a scientist took care of exotic animals. “He specializes in reptiles and worked in the University of the Philippines,” Karla shares. “We used to go to his farm and see all these amphibians. He was the first one in the Philippines to successfully grow tree frogs.”

After college, Karla moved to Australia where she carved a career path in graphic design and project management for international agencies. It was in Bondi Beach where she met Bruce five years ago. The rest as they say is history. Bruce and Karla became a couple and resettled in his home country. They are also proud parents of a human toddler.

 

“…We have to remember that not everyone is a pet lover. That is why our dogs are well-maintained and tend not to be too playful in public places. That understanding will help us make a world that is more pet-friendly.”

 

If there is one thing that Karla has learned in her care for pets, it is that “pets and humans can live well together,” she says. “As pet parents, we also have a responsibility towards other people. We have to remember that not everyone is a pet lover. That is why our dogs are well-maintained and tend not to be too playful in public places. That understanding will help us make a world that is more pet-friendly.”

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Dogs are so well-trained they can be left unleashed on the beach.

 

 

 

 

 

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