Today we’d like to introduce you to Casey Boshae Williams.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Casey. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I never knew how much my life would change when I said ‘yes’ that day to a tiny grey bundle of fuzz and eyeballs at the Wags and Walks adoption event.
It was not the right time to get a dog. My then, boyfriend (now husband), Jeff, and I had both agreed on this that morning before I walked out the door.
I was going to meet a friend at Wags & Walks in Los Angeles, to see if she connected with a Pittie I recently helped transport from the shelter. Within 30 seconds of walking into the adoption space, I spotted Olive. She was tiny and one of TWELVE pups born in a litter just a few weeks prior. It was love. I immediately offered to ‘foster’ and before I could overthink it, was walking towards the car with this tiny little chunk muffin in my arms.
You should have heard some of the comments we got from friends and family when they found out we were adopting a Pitbull. All, of course, were out of love and concern, but it was as if we were bringing a Saw-Scaled Viper into our home. Olive proved them all wrong. From the beginning, she was sweet, soft, even a little timid. She completely changed our perception of the breed.
18 months ago, I went on the hunt for a small Pitbull necklace. Something delicate and feminine. I scoured the web: Etsy, Google, Amazon, high-end jewelers. Nothing. Same on the shirt front. I wanted a tee or a tank that didn’t have a tacky phrase or ‘in your face’ saying scrawled all over it. I came up empty. There was nothing out there that was beautiful, approachable and classic that I felt like represented me. So, I started creating my own.
I started with one necklace design… that took me 6 months to perfect and our LOVE tee and launched in July of 2017.
In my perfect world, one should be able to buy ‘anything’ and have it support dog rescue. And I wanted The Gentle Pit to reflect that. I wanted anyone… even someone who doesn’t own a dog to be able to come to our site and find something they like. And, they can feel good about their purchase because it’s supporting a great cause.
For me, The Gentle PIt isn’t necessarily about a clothing brand. I never set out to be a designer. I set out to use design and style to help change and shape perceptions. I think branding is SO important for any issue or cause, and we can reach so many more people and help save so many more dog’s lives if we have an attractive, warm, beautiful brand that people are naturally drawn to.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Ummmm, does any new startup business have a smooth road??! If so, I’d like to meet those guys and find out their secrets! I bet its drugs and a secret stash of $10 million that they can fall back on.
Being a solo entrepreneur is a lonely, lonely existence. I am the CEO, CFO, CMO, COO, design team and fulfillment center of the entire operation. I remember my first month in business: July 2017. I had spent 11 months straight both working my full-time job and pouring an additional 6-8 hours a day into building GP. I’d wake up at 4:30 am some mornings because I just couldn’t shut my brain off and had to get a few hours in on GP before my full-time work started. In my head, I had fantasies of pushing the ‘go live’ button on our site and just watching as the sales poured in. I think I did $500 in sales that month. It was completely soul-crushing after putting my blood, sweat, and tears into building this thing for so long.
But, you push through. Thankfully I had a great cheerleading a team in my husband and friends. And ultimately, I kept reminding myself that if I quit, there might be a few fewer dogs that would make it out of the shelter. I can’t stand thinking about that. 4 months later, I was spending my weekends just trying to keep up with order fulfillment.
I think people see a business come out of nowhere and assume that they ‘blew up’ overnight. With social media these days, anyone can present any sort of reality they want – whether or not that reality is honest. Starting a company is tough mentally and emotionally. There’s a guilt that comes if you let a day pass by where you haven’t worked in the business. The beginning is exciting… but no one talks about the wasteland of the middle. When you essentially have the main structure of the business in place – you’re not doing the exciting things like photo shoots or designing products – and then you just have to grind. You pay bills, you create spreadsheets, you try and figure out how the heck you’re going to market this thing on a budget. That’s why small businesses fail. It’s the grind in the middle that’s so freaking tough.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I recently received this comment that someone had written in the ‘notes’ section of their order: ‘ I ordered a tee from you all and love it so much I’m ordering more. Thanks for bringing style to rescue apparel. It was desperately needed’
I started crying when I read this. It was an emotional moment for me because it meant that my whole message and purpose with The Gentle Pit is actually translating to our supporters. I think we need to rebrand rescue and rebrand Pitbulls. In this digital world, we have today, an image is everything. People judge brands, animals, people, causes what they see in the first 3 seconds of looking at their website or Instagram profile. It’s sad but true. Never before has style and aesthetic appeal been so necessary for moving a cause forward.
The Gentle Pit is a lifestyle brand that supports animal rescue. I am most proud of the fact that we contributed almost 35% of our gross revenue to rescue in 2017 and that I personally volunteered 100+ hours and fostered 15 dogs. Anyone can say they support a cause… but, I am really proud of the fact that I have built this company from my own passion and involvement in a cause I love.
What were you like growing up?
I attribute my split personality to my upbringing. Raised on a farm in Montana, I have firsthand experience of what it’s like to be covered in cow poop. I vividly remember waking up at 5:30 am to feed my 4-H calf, Dot before I went to school. I showed horses, mucked stalls and can tell you the difference between grass and alfalfa hay. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was 16 and even then, it was just mascara and Chapstick. Excitement for me was shopping for new show chaps, Roper boots, and Stetsons. My idea of high fashion was a sweatshirt and new Doc Martins.
Then, I moved to Los Angeles. My friends and husband will attest I was, shall we say, ‘a late bloomer’. I am unrecognizable in my college photos with my weird baggy Mom jeans and awful ‘big city’ haircut that I thought looked A-mazing.
But slowly, I acclimated. And by slowly, I mean 15 years. However, a change did happen. I started to take note of peoples clothes, home décor, colors, trends, etc. My eye developed. Eventually, the thought of a good pillow, Alpaca blanket or a well-made bag began to rival my past excitement for cowboy boots. Friends started to ask me, ME of all people, for advice on how to decorate their home or what outfits looked good on them. If they only knew what my college haircut looked like…
Now, when I’m not fully immersed in GP, I love dabbling in interior design. I briefly started a design company in 2012 that was geared towards helping single guys decorate their bachelor pads in a masculine, but ‘chick friendly’ way. Our wedding, which I designed, was featured in White Magazine. I do freelance design jobs on occasion. I just love pretty things.
Overall, I’d say, I’m a learned extrovert. I can conversate like a boss when I need to, but basically, I prefer being alone. And by alone, I mean me and 17 dogs. No people.
- We are an affordable luxury brand. I’ll never charge $50 for a tee shirt, but our tees aren’t $19 either
- Address: 4858 W. Pico Blvd. #310
- Website: http://thegentlepit.com
- Email: info@thegentlepit
- Instagram: instagram.com/thegentlepit
- Facebook: facebook.com/thegentlepit
- Other: pinterest.com/thegentlepit
Jen Sosa, Eileen Squires