Terah Gisolo with rescue dogs pitbull Lady Bell and chihuahua/terrier mix Meyer Maxwell
Dogtails shampoo, $16
Adjustable prismatic rope leash, $64
Handmade dog bowls, from $50
Hand-knit cable sweater, from $45
Grounds & Hounds coffee, $16
By day, Terah Gisolo works as the assistant manager of the Jonathan Adler boutique in Dallas. During her off hours, she puts her stylish eye and good heart to work rescuing dogs and raising money for the cause via a slew of chic canine products sold on her website, Real Good Shop + Adopt. The 501c3 nonprofit launched in October, with 11 percent of the e-commerce site’s profits going to providing foster homes, medical care and other necessities for abandoned and abused dogs.
Gisolo shares with us how she turned her passion for pooches in need into a socially-conscious nonprofit.
When did you start focusing on rescuing dogs?
My sister first opened my eyes to how severe the problem was years ago. She has rescued eight to 10 dogs, some who were used in dog fighting, one that was thrown from a car [at] 80 miles per hour, others with broken legs, no water or food. She lives in Dallas, which is why I moved here, and we started working on this together.
How did Real Good get started?
Before I moved back to Texas last year, I’d been doing interior design retail sales for 15 years in New York and L.A., and doing volunteer dog rescue on the side. I wanted to figure out how to marry the two. I love retail and working with people, and dogs are my passion. I was lucky enough to meet people along the way who introduced me to some cool brands and companies we could team up with on the website.
What’s your mission?
We want to raise awareness and educate people through the website. Also, when people shop at Real Good, their dollars make a difference. Eleven percent of our profits go back to rescue groups. The vast majority of people working in rescues can only do it based on funding they get. Our products are cool — they’re all made in the U.S. by socially conscious companies. So, it’s a double dosing of social good.
Does Real Good adopt out dogs?
There’s a section on the website called “Adopt Me” where dogs are available. We just adopted one out. As we grow, we’ll put more on there. I’m doing this out of my house, so there’s only so many we can take in at a time. We need more foster homes, so we’re working on building up our roster of foster families.
Do you match people with dogs?
I worked for a well-known dog matcher in New York and learned the best questions to ask to match people with dogs they can adopt. We have a form online for them to fill out. Even if we don’t have a dog on the site for them, we can help them find the right match, since we work closely with the SPCA and other shelters. You have to pair your lifestyle with the right dog. For instance, labs are super high-energy and need lots of exercise. If you work 15 hours a day and want to come home and lounge around, a lab might not be best fit. We find out what your lifestyle is like and educate you about different breeds. Everyone loves puppies, until they are up every few hours taking them outside.
You’re not a fan of breeders.
No, I’m not. There’s no legal definition — anyone can be a breeder — and there’s zero regulation. It’s a huge problem, with so many unwanted dogs killed in shelters. There are reputable breeders out there, but many more backyard breeders who are out to make a quick buck.
Did you grow up with dogs?
My dad had hunting dogs, and we had a German Shepherd. I remember finding lost dogs, telling fibs to my dad in order to figure out how to keep them. We ultimately always got to keep them. There was something special about finding dogs on the streets and rehabbing them.
We’re continuing to grow the online shop and adding new, unique products you don’t see everywhere else. The more that grows, the more we can give back and fund animal rescue. We also want to grow our own rescue and build that up, so we can provide more dogs with homes.