Black-owned pet accessories company to open in Crosstown

Dawg Team Apparel USA is a Black-owned business that specializes in pet apparel and treats for canine family members.

Owners Calvin and Audrey Morrow began their family business in April of 2019.

“We recognized that there were not any Black-owned pet apparel businesses in Memphis or Nashville either. That particular opportunity is not prevalent for us as African Americans,” said Audrey.

Dawg Team's products include sweaters, bandanas, dresses, leashes, harnesses, jewelry, seasonal items, and your favorite team jerseys with authentic licensed logos.

The Morrows' own dog, Buddy, is Dawg Team's official spokesman.

"When I decided to get the dog, I had to figure out how to get him groomed, vaccinated, and everything else. So Buddy had to get a job too," Calvin joked.

Since August of 2020, they’ve had a boutique booth inside of the Painted Tree Marketplace at 8045 Giacosa Place in Cordova. They’re open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday, but ordering is always available through their website.

They recently leased their own storefront in Crosstown, which will open soon. Audrey said they didn't pick the new location at 420 North Cleveland Street; it picked them. 

"We love that the location is centrally located and easily accessible to pet lovers. We are excited that we get to play a part in the economic growth in this community and our city," said Audrey.
They plan to expand to include a grooming service and produce their own brand of dog treats and accessories for sale in other local stores.
Dawg Team Apparel USA offers a wide range of apparel and accessories for dogs. (Dawg House Apparel USA) Dawg Team does sell dog treats shipped from a US distributor. They are natural, fresh, and come in a variety of flavors like chicken, beef, buffalo ears, chicken feet, and Buddy’s favorite—sweet potato. In this family operation, the treats are weighed, vacuum sealed, and labeled by the Morrows' 17-year-old son.

Community involvement, service, and support are important to the Morrows.

They are certified by the Small Business Association as a minority-owned small business. They are strong supporters of other small and independent businesses and are mindful to use small business minority participants for their own business needs.

They also give back to the community by donating a portion of their sales to the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. They also participate in pet adoption events and donate treats and dog jerseys to local animal shelters.

“Because of the pandemic, there have been many displaced animals. We are positioning ourselves to be able to find homes for these pets within the next three months to a year,” said Audrey.

The Morrows had to pivot their business model due to the pandemic. The pandemic has prevented them from participating in popup shops, dog shows, and events where they would have been able to market their business.

Calvin said another big blow came from Amazon and the NFL, who struck an agreement near the start of the pandemic to stop selling licensed merchandise from third party sites. Dawg Team can't sell their popular team jerseys for dogs on Amazon. 

“Last year, I did $335,000 in sales revenue. This year, I’ve probably netted about $12,000 in sales,” said Calvin.

The Morrows are focusing now on growing their online presence. The company is currently making more money from walk-in sales than their website, which they are redesigning.

“We have tapped into expanding our reach with avenues like the Nextdoor app.
Also and leveraging our social media presence,” said Audrey.

Audrey said that their current sales volume is manageable for the family but with when online sales grow, they'll need more manpower. 

The Morrows would like to add a location in the Whitehaven community, where they hope to draw customers from Memphis and Southaven, Mississippi. Audrey and Calvin have ties to the Whitehaven community and are excited to see the area being revitalized.

“Graceland is the largest tourist attraction, and the city is now investing more money into improving the infrastructure and the streets in Whitehaven. We want to grow while the area is growing,” said Calvin.
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Read more articles by Deborah Gaddy-Robertson.

Deborah Gaddy-Robertson is a recent graduate of Strayer University, where she earned an MBA in Leadership. She is a Certified Life Coach and author of a fictional novel, "Cor 'poor' ate America." She is currently working on her second literary project, "Little Epiphanies from God."