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Class Notes May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2

Gone to the Dogs
Janet McCulley, ’90; Maritsa Chew, ’86


If you think pet supplies are a bare-bones business you haven’t been introduced to “Yappy Hours,” Chihuahua trunk shows and custom-made designer dog tags.

Last year, consumers spent more than $34 billion on pet-related merchandise, double what they spent a decade ago and UCSD alums Janet McCulley and Maritsa Chew are riding high on this wave of puppy love.

McCulley founded the tony, high-concept Muttropolis boutiques for haute dogs and cool cats in fall 2002 with her husband, designer John McCulley, and like-minded partners Steve and Georgia Goldberg. The flagship store in Solana Beach’s Cedros design district was such a whopping success that the partners subsequently opened a second snappy boutique on La Jolla’s upscale Girard Street, and plan more than 15 new stores in key national markets within the next two years.

“With Muttropolis, we wanted to create a paradise for pets and their parents,” said McCulley, who had a successful 10-year career in corporate marketing for Foodmaker, Inc. (now Jack-in-the Box) before she decided to follow her passion for animals and swapped burgers for dog bones.
Muttropolis sells full lines of canine couture, kitty playhouses and doggie dinnerware, as well as a selection of more practical items like pet food and shampoos. Muttropolis also donates a percentage of all proceeds from its many events to local animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Like Janet McCulley, Maritsa Chew has made her mark on the burgeoning pet boutique business. Chew opened her one-of-a-kind shop, Doodledings Dog Bakery & Boutique only eight months ago in Burlingame, south of San Francisco. It caters to the stylish, fun-loving and devoted pet owner, with handknit Chihuahua sweaters, doggie armoires and doggie fortune cookies that include messages like “some days you’re the dog, some days you’re the hydrant.” Chew, who worked in marketing for a law firm, was inspired to open Doodledings by her 15-year-old Pekingese mix Gizmo, whom she rescued from the local pound a decade ago.

Chew also plans a series of nine books that spin the tale of Gizmo’s life since he was rescued from the pound. Gizmo attends a culinary academy, falls in love with a fetching poodle named Doodles, and returns to Burlingame to open Doodledings.

— Dolores Davies

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"With Muttropolis, we wanted to create a paradise for pets and their parents."