While some of us would prefer the relief of the constants in our lives—the way we can stick to routines, the way we could fit ourselves into templates we are comfortable in, or the way we can rely on equations to keep some abstracts at bay—the rock-solid foundation of a planned life just isn’t for everyone. Not to romanticize a kind of easy-going freedom, but some people would prefer the exhilirating (even if at times, stressful) experience of a path littered with surprises.
These surprises can come in all kinds of tender forms—an impromptu out-of-town trip, a small unexpected gift, or even the sound of a bark that welcomes you home. This somehow paints the life of serial entrepreneur Migi Manalastas who is Chief Barkitect of Bow House and Meow House, two endeavors dedicated to providing well-designed products for our most lovable animal companions.
While conventional wisdom in this fast-paced age would tell you to slow it down and take the sure possibility, Migi has devoted his early career returns to the opposite. Instead of what he calls a “corporate life,” he took a chance by trying to merge all of his interests in technology, design, and of course, dogs, into a solid business that he can nurture. The result is Bow House, a brand that aims to satisfy the needs not only of the dogs they are bought for but also the humans which will grow alongside them. By exercising good care in each aspect of designing their products, which range from elegant dome homes to cute small beds aptly called Muttresses, the result is that of a pleasant surprise.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I think starting a business for me was something natural. I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs so corporate life didn’t really appeal to me. I was trained to see opportunities to create value. In the case of Bow House, there was a clear gap in the market for high quality pet goods so it really was a no brainer for me.
What are your secrets for keeping yourself motivated?
Whenever I feel burnt out, I make it a point to get out of town and see something new. Being in a new environment and having new experiences acts like a reset button for me. I tend to nitpick on problems and I have a tendency to get stuck on the small details so taking that step backwards really helps me put things back into perspective.
What’s your favorite thing about having your own business?
I like having the creative freedom to do anything I want. More than being free from the red tape of corporate life, I find that being able to set my company’s direction and culture is the most satisfying experience. It also helps that I can travel as much as I want without worrying about maxing out my leaves.
Tell us more about your dogs!
I come from a family of dog lovers. All my 7 of my family members have their own dogs so you can imagine it can get quite chaotic. My Doberman, Brutus, actually passed away last year. I haven’t been able to choose his successor yet but among the house dogs, Beastie, the Sheltie is my favorite.
What’s your favorite thing about them?
Dog owners are scientifically proven to have longer and happier lives compared to non-dog owners. There’s really something very rewarding about the love and affection you get from a dog. For Bow House, having all these dogs means that I have the best R&D team for free! Every single product that we release is rigorously tested by all our dogs for at least a few months. If they don’t like it, we don’t sell it.
What do you think is the most important thing in maintaining this kind of business?
You have to love your brand and what it stands for. Sometimes it’s easy to get disheartened especially when you start seeing the cheaper replicas and knock offs of your products by copycats and imitators (yes, these parasites and more are inevitable). They can copy your products all they want but your brand is something that is uniquely yours.
Any future plans?
We’ll be expanding our range of products to include feeding bowls and of course, we’ll also launch more products for cats under Meow House. Hopefully you’lll also see our new collection of Dapper Dog Gear collars and leash sets with Gouache soon.
While some view risk and freedom as concepts that belong to the wilderness of the outdoors, it doesn’t always have to be that way. While Migi does show a fair love for travelling and seeing the world, the biggest gamble he took was one that lived squarely in the warm confines of a house and its residents. These residents—human, dog, or cat—are the welcome guests in Migi’s rollercoaster experience so far with both Bow House and Meow House.
Who knew these surprises would lead him home?
Join Migi and this community of responsible pet lovers by visiting them in the following: