Public relations is important because it will get your brand and products into the media. This helps with attracting customers to inquire about your products. I remember when I was contacted by Bloomingdales to have The SHERPA Bag included in their catalog. It was a major win for the brand.
As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Gayle Martz.
Gayle Martz is an inventor, animal advocate, business executive, photographer and author who has worked with the world’s leading brands on designing, manufacturing and marketing.
Gayle invented the iconic SHERPA bag and is founder of The SHERPA Pet Trading Company — creating the soft-sided pet carrier category. She grew the company, which she started from scratch, into a multimillion-dollar enterprise with products still sold globally. Now, she continues to advocate for a world that responsibly welcomes pets wherever their humans go and advises companies and government agencies on pet-friendly policies, just like she did with American Airlines when she first revolutionized pet travel.
Gayle provides her expertise to legislators and leaders of brand name companies in the travel, hospitality, media and fashion industries (has worked on campaigns for Lanvin, Valentino, and Godiva Chocolate), and, of course, key influencers throughout the dog and cat world. She is the author of No Pet Left Behind: The Sherpa Guide for Traveling with Your Best Friend and It’s In The Bag: How to turn a passion into a new business. Gayle has been featured on CNN, CNBC, FOX, The New York Times, and numerous other television, radio, print and online organizations. She is also the recipient of Avon’s Women of Enterprise award.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Love brought me here. I had a dog named SHERPA and wanted her to be with me everywhere I went, and I knew I couldn’t be the only pet owner who felt this way. The love people have for their dogs and cats is so strong and most have a desire to be with them. Just look at all the media surrounding employees petitioning for their pets to go to work with them when they had to return back to the office after quarantine!
My former job as a TWA flight attendant made me aware that you were not able to take a pet onboard in the passenger cabin of major airlines. This was the same time as the advent of soft-sided luggage. An idea came to me to create a safe, comfortable, stylish alternative to hard plastic carriers for our pets. But as I say, an idea is nothing without action. And oh, was there a lot of action on my part to bring from concept to final product, The SHERPA Bag, which still 30+ years later, is still a highly ranked favorite pet carrier. Most recently, it was voted “best overall carrier” by The Strategist.
I have always believed in doing what you love, and I loved animals. I saw a cause that needed a solution.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting?
When I created my first logo for SHERPA Pet Trading Company, I had placed a generic Sherpa guide and SHERPA the dog, into the logo. No one understood what the man was doing in the logo because the SHERPA Bag was made for cats and dogs. I had wanted to convey traveling and trekking as the Sherpa guides do, but it was obviously a marketing mistake depicted in the logo.
I quickly changed the logo to SHERPA the dog and a cat, once I was aware of the mistake I had made. I turned my mistake into a media event by writing a press release with the headline “The Cat’s Out of the Bag and into the SHERPA Logo” since half of our customers were owners of cats! This was a good way to let my customers know that the bag was for both cats and dogs!