Today we’d like to introduce you to Megann Drost.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My story really starts when my health began to inexplicably and rapidly decline at the age of 20. Four years later, I discovered that was suffering from Lyme Disease and other tick-borne co-infections. The treatment I am on now has helped me get some of my life back and makes me somewhat stable, but definitely nowhere near as functional as other 27-year-olds. It has been really challenging being unable to work full time and to essentially be disabled at such a young age. As a result, with the approval from my doctor, I looked into training a puppy as my service dog. Service dogs help those who are disabled by learning specific tasks that will help mitigate their handler’s disabilities.
This is when my dog Oliver, came into the picture. Oliver is a golden retriever puppy currently training to be my service dog, which means he is probably the most well mannered 8-month-old puppy you will ever meet. He still has a long way to go through and will not be fully trained till he is at least a year and a half.
When I got him, I was shocked to see the prices (and waitlists) for high-quality dog gear such as leashes, collars and vests (Oliver wears a service dog in training vest when we go places). I begrudgingly bought his first collar, leash and vest and then decided I would make my own gear to save a penny or two (or ten thousand). I also wanted to be able to serve other service dog owners by offering fun, high-quality gear in a timely manner. This is when The Atomic Hound began. I have always been a creative, artistic person and it has been really fun to learn many skills in a short period of time, such as learning to use a DSLR camera, edit photos, use different sewing machines and understanding all the work that goes into forming a business. This job also works for me since it provides me with a flexibility that is really hard to find in the corporate world. Finally, being the owner of a business means that you get to structure it however you want to. As a person who is disabled, I have experienced first hand how hard it is to make ends meet financially when you are not able to work full time and also need to pay medical bills. I wanted to be able to give back to those people through my business, so 5% of all my profits go to helping those who need financial medical assistance out.
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?
I already touched on this, but the challenges have been that I have constant health issues that make it hard to get a consistent amount of work done every day. It has also been hard financially as my husband and I didn’t have anything extra to put towards the business. I started out very much from scratch, no loans or anything, and just really had to put my best effort forward and hope it takes off!
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Atomic Hound story. Tell us more about the business.
I specialize in dog products and accessories including: dog collars, rope leashes, bandanas, and custom vests for service dogs and therapy dogs. I think what sets me apart is that I care a lot about my customers and me also genuinely like this job. I’m not in it just for the money (although I obviously need money just like everyone else). I try to be creative with my posts and advertising, and also to add a little humor. You can find spoofs on gossip girl, the song riding dirty, and other things in there. So many of my customers are people who either have or are training their own service dog and really live incredibly hard lives as younger disabled people. I think everyone is just looking for a little hope and joy in the world and I try to bring that to my page whenever I can. I also think that something that sets me apart (that I did talk about already) is that I give between 5-10% of the profits I make to those who need help paying for medical financing.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Early I was actually bullied on Instagram by other brands who design similar products. It was a really hard experience for me, as it just wasn’t something I was expecting. There are thousands of dog product companies, so it was shocking that a well-established company would pick on my brand that was so brand new. Anyways, I just didn’t play it at all, and ironically enough it brought me more business simply because of that old saying that “any press is good press.”
I would say, I have a fair stroke of bad luck by contracting Lyme Disease, one of the most difficult to treat diseases with little research behind it. However, I have tried really hard to turn my lemons into lemonade (or limes into limeade… get it?) and make the best of my life with what I have. I would have NEVER pictured myself owning a sewing business that sells dog products. However, I have met so many amazing people and learned so many skills that I might not have if I had never gotten sick in the first place.
- Custom Vests for Service or Therapy dogs start at $20 and go up to $55
- Collars are all under $22 and depend on width (1″-2″ available)
- Bandanas are all $17-$27 depending on the material used and include two snaps
- Website: www.theatomichound.com
- Phone: (818) 309-5030
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theatomichound/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theatomichound/