CARROLL GARDENS — Before Zoey and Lani inspired a fashion house, they barely had a home.
Rescued from animal shelters as puppies, the dogs’ stories motivated owners Nick Dodson and his wife Jordan to launch ZoLa, a socially responsible brand that blends fashion with their love of animals.
Five-year-old Zoey, a brown Miniature Pinscher, was rescued from a shelter in Washington, D.C., and is the feistier of the two dogs. She is “the real-life embodiment of Scrappy-Doo,” Nick Dodson said.
Lani, black Miniature Pinscher mix, was rescued from a high-kill shelter in South Carolina four years ago, he explained. Shy and timid, the Dodsons found a rail-thin Lani that was starved for food and love.
“She was just shaking,” Nick said.
Seeing the beloved pup suffer inspired the couple to get involved with animal welfare shelters and rescue organizations.
Dodson first thought of the idea for ZoLa — which will soon start selling a polo-style shirt featuring the brand's signature bulldog logo — while taking an entrepreneurship class at Georgetown University, hoping to combine his flair for fashion and love of animals. Having grown up in Northern Virginia, where the two me, the couple moved to New York last year with the dogs and their son, Dylan.
ZoLa is an animal-friendly brand in which 10 percent of the price of its products is donated to animal-rescue and welfare organizations. Last month, ZoLa raised over $14,000 in an Indiegogo campaign for the brand and will soon launch an online store.
With its “Be Aware” slogan and social mission, the brand urges people to “beware of inhumane animal treatment” and “be aware of causes that support our animal friends.”
Their first product is the “Underdog Polo Shirt,” with a retail price of $89, which can be purchased online in a few weeks. Buyers can donate 10 percent of the cost to an animal-welfare organization of their choice. The company's inaugural logo — an English bulldog — pays homage to Nick Dodson’s alma mater and also personifies the brand's scrappy-yet-regal appearance, he said.
“This is a brand to celebrate the underdog in each and every one of us,” Nick said.
ZoLa is currently partnered with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, who rescued Lani, and the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Animal Recourse Coalition (BARC) , but Nick said they plan to connect with more shelters soon.
The company plans on expanding its line to include women’s polo shirts, as well as accessories and other casual-wear products.