INDUSTRY:  Pet apparel
OWNER/CEO: Carolyn Paxton
FOUNDED:  December 1, 2004

ELVIS, models an outfit created by his owner, Carolyn Paxton of Altadena. Paxton’s Chi WOW WOW line of high-end clothing is about to be manufactured and distributed internationally.

Canine couture
Home-based mini-clothing designer is playing with the big dogs.

By Andrew Blazier
Staff Writer

Altadena—About this time last year, Carolyn Paxton was sewing t-shirts for her new Chihuahua to keep him warm.
But six months since she began selling the miniature clothing online, Paxton’s Web site has received more than 800,000
hits and an international clothing distributor is prepared to market her one-of-a-kind, vintage-style apparel to dog
lovers across the globe.

“None of this was planned,” said Paxton, 45, who founded
out of her Altadena home 6 ½ months ago. “When you’re not focused on money, things tend to work out.”

Indeed, Paxton, who worked for eight years in marketing and sales at Thousand Oaks-based biotechnology firm, AMGEN Inc., spent four years as a private consultant before retiring two years ago. She began sewing clothes for her pet Chihuahua, Elvis, after adopting the puppy last spring.

“I really needed to keep him warm,” she explained. “A lot of (pet clothing) was very girly, and Elvis seems to be very much
a male.”

Paxton created each of Elvis’ shirts as a unique item, and
she has maintained that direction in the company’s first six months of public sales. Orders vary by season but recently have reached at least $500 a week.

The concept of rare, vintage-style doggie duds sparked interest from several thousand internet users. Now Luxe Pet, a Los Angeles apparel distributor whose showroom represents the Hello Kitty brand, among others, is set to market Chi WOW WOW overseas, focusing on Japan.

Paxton still runs the business from her home, contracting with two seamstresses and her sister to produce the clothes. But that will likely change soon. Luxe Pet owner, Kim Rivera, said she expects the company to be very popular with more hip pet owners because of the products unique style.

“What she’s into is very, very directional, “Rivera said. She’s very smart with how she is promoting it. I think she’s going to be the next big thing.”

The company’s least expensive items, retailing for at least $32 apiece, will be mass-produced either in China or Mexico. The vintage-style, high-end pieces will be priced at up to $200 – for a skateboard lined carrying case – and will be manufactured in the U.S.

Paxton won’t mention her financial goals for the company. For now, she’s focused on increasing customer awareness – especially in Japan, which routinely ranks among the biggest spenders on pet-related products.

“I just want to walk down the street and (see) somebody address a piece of clothing as Chi WOW WOW,” she said. “I want that recognition.