A Principled Approach
Role within the catalog: Fisher and his business partner Stew Maloney founded the company. Fisher writes the copy and is the creative force behind this colorful and fun catalog of high-end pet supplies.
Why they started a catalog: They initially set out to start a product line in the pet business, and later decided the merchandise would be attractive in a catalog format. “I love catalogs,” says Fisher. “I read them like other people read books. I love the copy, the format, the merchandise, the paper, the binding, the smell of them — everything.”
Grew up in: Brooklyn, NY
Education: B.A. from Hobart College, and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Bard College.
Business role models: Fisher, who feels passionately about “values-led” business, says his role models include Paul Hawken of Smith & Hawken, Patagonia catalog, Ben & Jerry’s, and Tom’s of Maine, to name a few.
How Fisher incorporates personal values into business decisions: The company gives 10 percent of its profits to the Planet Dog Philanthropy, its own charitable-giving division. In 2002, the company gave away about $25,000, mostly in grants of $2,500 to $5,000 to small non-profits involved in animal welfare, education and environmental preservation. The program is passively marketed to catalog customers via package inserts with orders.
Also, Fisher and other Planet Dog managers established a very liberal maternity/paternity leave policy in which new dads receive two weeks paid leave, and new moms get one month paid leave.
These decisions are based on Fisher and Maloney’s goal to run a family-oriented, values-led business.
What the Planet Dog workplace is like: Employees can bring their pets to work with them. “We call the dogs product testers,” Fisher says. All items are first tried out on his own and employees’ dogs before being put in the catalog. Plus, he says, by bringing their best friends to work with them, employees are more apt to stay late, because they don’t have to rush home to let out or walk the dog. “We take dog breaks during the workday like other people take cigarette breaks. It’s a wonderful way to rest and re-energize.”