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Pampered Pets

Just what man's (or woman's) best friend needs to dress for success.

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By Randi Schmelzer

Published Apr 1, 2009 9:59 AM


Swarovski Crystals and snakeskin, angora and leather: It's the stuff that fills every fashionista's closet, economy be damned. So what if that fashionista just happens to have four legs and a tail?

Welcome to swankpets.com, the San Diego-based online luxury dog boutique and lifestyle hub for small dogs. Launched in 2006 by Amy Hsiao '99, her brother Mike Hsiao and his then-girlfriend Teresa Meng, the site offers products of all kinds for dog owners who want to dress their pooch for the runway.

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Dresses are popular purchases for swank pets. Ditto sweaters, shirts and dog purses designed to look like people versions from top designers like Chloe Paddington and Chanel. The top seller? Pajamas.

Swankpets also provides a "comprehensive and active" hub/blog filled with information and articles on small dog care and lifestyle trends. And it's not just for the rich. Many of the items in swankpets.com's product lines are "affordable to everybody," Hsiao says, and the Web site makes an effort "to cater to people who want to dress their pets to look good and have fun as well."

And business is booming, even during recession.

"I never would have realized it, but people spend more, sometimes, on pets than themselves," Hsiao marvels.

Blame the trend on Paris Hilton's Tinkerbell and Elle Woods' Chihuahua Bruiser in Legally Blonde, decked out in a Tiffany necklace and pink raincoat. But whatever the cause, this kind of canine caper is big business.

Market researcher Euromonitor International, which tracks sales of pet food and accessories, puts this year's animal expenditures at $23.9 billion — and growing.

Through swankpets, "I was able to pursue my dream of having my own business," Hsiao concludes. And there's still room for growth. "People are never going to stop loving their dogs and are always going to want to pamper them."

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