Turning BARK’s flagship DTC product into a brand powerhouse.

For six incredible years, I had the privilege of serving as the primary creative leader at BARK. In this role, I developed and oversaw a dynamic team responsible for toy design, copywriting, packaging, and marketing creative.

The founders had established an irreverent brand voice for BARK in the years leading up to my tenure, but my job was to define our humor and standards for quality and guide every execution from crazy idea to reality. My job was to execute the ultimate vision of what the BARK brand could be; in every product, easter egg, paid social ad, unboxing experience and poop joke.

I codified a mission for the team: make the world’s best products and experiences for dogs (and their people).

My mission: make our products absolutely irresistible and fabricate a modern lifestyle brand out of a “dog toy company”.

PRODUCT AS CONTENT

For BARK‘s monthly subscribers, I treated each new product collection as if it was original content on a streaming platform. An entertaining, broadly accessible storyline (theme) and truly unique product suite (toys and treats) they‘d never received in their monthly box.  After all, customers pay more for their BarkBox than Netflix and Hulu combined. I didn’t take that for granted. 

For the BarkBox plush line, the goal was to ship the cutest, funniest, most surprising and original, highest-quality dog toy we could design.

During my time leading creative, I turned the team into a relentless idea factory, inventing new play patterns, iterating on wins and learning from losses. Over and over. Thousands of new products and product launches.

Las Vegas Collection (2021)

LICENSING FOR GROWTH

We released our first licensed collection for The Grinch Movie in 2018 and its success paved the way for an entirely new view strategy for subscriber growth. Immediately, we set out to launch unique, category-best collections with every top tier media company and their flagship properties.

SpongeBob Squarepants (2023)

BRAND PARTNERSHIPS

Beyond our DTC subscription lines, we brought dog people and their favorite brands together with truly exceptional product drops that sell out faster than a greyhound’s zoomies.

BARK x Girl Scouts of America - Toy & Cookie Box (2023)
BARK x Dunkin' - In Store & Ecomm Toy Programs (2019 - Present)

EXCEPTIONAL FUNCTIONAL DESIGN

BARK’s plush toy business has traditionally been the most popular product line – always the boldest, silliest dog toys in the market. However, the design team’s primary brief was always function. These products might be “toys” but dogs play rough and use toys to soothe and work out their animal instincts.

Beyond the flagship plush toys, I’m extremely proud of my time growing and leading the team of talented industrial designers behind our popular Super Chewer hardline output. That side of our toy business does more than anyone in the industry to solve the functional brief while delivering award-winning, timeless design to the world of dog toys. The team continues to use the constraints of materials and dog physiology to produce unique, collectible, sculptural products.

Some of my favorite Super Chewer designs...

MARKETING & BRAND

I had the opportunity to lead all creative output for marketing our BarkBox and Super Chewer during my time at BARK. Being a primary author of the brand’s unique voice while leading product development gave me a clear view of the playfulness and fun we could mine to connect with consumers.

When I first started at BARK, I developed a series of shorts and 30s TV spots designed to engage dog people and express the magic of subscription life. Here’s my favorite that I directed during that time.

CREATIVE LEADERSHIP

Leading a large team of 40+ writers and designers, one of my most cherished roles was as primary culture author for the creative teams. Leading by example is critical, but too passive to build a robust and consistent culture for the entire team.

I met with my managers weekly to talk about inventing a  team culture that inspires creative people. 

Consistent creativity requires the freedom to take risks. Establishing this kind of environment requires very clear communication and trust. Leading creatives is an empathic, creative act of its own.

How do you hold the entire team’s creative output to high standards without risking burn out. How do you empower quality decision-making from the bottom up?

Let me know if you wanna hear more!