Having just completed her Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Pet Product Design and Marketing certificate, Karine Ng is already one of its most successful alums. While still taking classes, she launched Central Park Pups, which offers dog clothing that reflects New York City’s chic, sleek style while emphasizing safety and comfort. Ng’s flagship product is the Hidden Harness, a dog coat with a built-in step-in harness that makes it simpler to dress pups (and willing cats) for a walk.
Ng got the inspiration for the Hidden Harness one winter in New York City, where she lives, while walking her beloved Shih Tzu, Chewie. She noticed how bulky and uncomfortable-looking it was for dogs with harnesses to wear clothing. “The owners had bought these really nice coats and sweaters for their dogs, but had to cover them up with the harnesses,” she recalls. “It didn’t look the way it was meant to look.” She also thought about how long it took to outfit Chewie for a walk, and wanted to make it easier.
Ng had always wanted to start her own business, so the Pet Product Design and Marketing certificate was perfect for her. “It was great that there was program geared specifically toward people interested in starting a pet-product brand, with instructors who were knowledgeable in the pet industry, and could really just help me bring it all together,” she says.
As the FIT certificate offers courses on both the design and practical side of running a pet-focused brand, Ng was able to get a comprehensive grounding in the field as a whole. “The program really helps you with starting a pet-product brand, from determining the brand and image and what you want from it to product design and development. It has a little bit of everything you need,” she says.
Ng used her time at FIT to learn how to launch and market her business. She focused mainly on classes that helped her design her products, get them to market and handle merchandising. She especially enjoyed working with FIT adjunct professor Kris Lynch. “She is very hands-on, specific and direct,” says Ng. “She tells you exactly what you need to know.”
Ng has leveraged this knowledge to build a thriving company. Response to the Hidden Harness has been very positive, with the product garnering several awards, including the Pet Business 2013 Editor’s Choice Award and Modern Dog’s 2013 Fave Find, among others. Ng said the secret to her success is simple: “Do something that is different, and be unique.” No doubt, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Pet Product Design and Marketing program gave her the practical skills and tips she needed to do this.
For more in-depth information on the FIT Pet Product Design and Marketing Program at FIT, watch the International Association of Pet Fashion Professionals Hangout On Air with Dana Humphrey, program facilitator and Ada Nieves, first graduate of the program.