The TransPaw Gear® Journey, From Concept to Product Launch
The Best Pet Harness for Compassionate Pet Parents
Joan Hunter Mayer wanted more for the dogs in her life and the humans who loved them. For almost a decade she had known she would someday start a harness company. She had clients who struggled to find a comfortable harness that would minimize their dogs’ pulling without causing discomfort. Some dogs were hard to fit. Some clients struggled to understand how to put the dog harness on, or their fingers couldn’t operate the clips. Worse still, some dogs had a finely honed talent for wiggling out of their harnesses. Meanwhile, going to events with her own dog, Poncho, Joan would joke that he had more costume changes than Cher. A dog harness for walking and running. One for sports. Another for those days when his exuberance was so great that she just wanted something that would prevent him from pulling her off her feet. Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one harness that met this diverse array of needs?
When the time came to make that kernel of an idea a reality, Joan started looking at what it would take to develop a dog harness that actually had everything: functionality, ease of use, sturdiness, and safety, and a no-frills design that still looked good. Joan realized that walking and adventuring were beneficial to the dog-human bond, and saw creation of this perfect harness as the first step in a broader cultural shift she was committed to being part of.
Joan needed resources and a plan. Despite her fashion background, she would still need help in both design and production of a new harness. After investigating resources both locally and nationally, she found a group of experts who shared her vision. She traveled to Ohio to work with a team of soft goods engineers to craft her new product. Dog owners themselves, the engineers she met at Priority Designs were excited to help.
Spending a week together, Joan and the team came up with about 20 different designs, which were then whittled down to two main designs, and then the final concept. After returning home to Santa Barbara, Joan connected with different soft goods manufacturers to produce prototypes. After a few rounds of prototype testing with a couple of U.S. manufacturers, the final original TransPaw Gear Happy Harness was conceived! The first manufacturer, based in Rancho Cucamonga, was kind enough to offer a small run (which is virtually unheard of in the soft goods industry, especially with something as detailed as the Happy Harness). TransPaw Gear officially launched in November 2017.
Although the product was beautifully crafted, the original manufacturer did not have the resources to produce higher quantities or meet a price point that most consumers could afford. So Joan searched for a company that would achieve the same high standards, understand the TransPaw vision, and meet the needs of customers. Fortunately, she crossed paths with Mike Hexter, owner of HEXCORP, a California-based soft goods manufacturer. The Happy Harness underwent another round of prototype testing before a new batch was produced. The Happy Harness is now being made overseas through HEXCORP, but it is still the same outstanding quality as when it was produced directly here in the United States.
TransPaw Gear is a small but mighty operation. Joan runs the company in addition to her Santa Barbara training business, The Inquisitive Canine. After those early experiences working with businesses and people who brought equal parts integrity and passion to their roles, the bar was set high for future collaborators; Joan continues to surround herself (albeit largely virtually these days) with dedicated support professionals – a writer/editor, marketing, SEO, and website specialists, and legal and accounting support – to help keep TransPaw Gear running smoothly while maintaining the company’s core values of integrity, transparency, and compassion, to name a few. She does this while always keeping one eye on the mission of bringing dogs and humans together.
Joan’s goal is for people to love their Happy Harnesses almost as much as they love their dogs! She threw her heart and soul into the creation of the harness, and strives to continue to operate with the same values, integrity, and inspiration every day.