[dropcap letter=”T”]he dog days of summer are almost here . . . and with them the ticks, blackflies, mosquitoes, and other biting insects that can make getting outdoors a major buzzkill. Julie and Bill Swain, owners of Dog Not Gone, want to help you fight back against insect-borne illnesses, making your time outdoors safer and more enjoyable. They offer a range of high-visibility and insect-repellent apparel for adults, kids, dogs, and even horses.
It started with a common problem: Julie is a dog lover who worried about reports that New England’s ticks are wreaking havoc on health. She developed a simple solution — a protective dog vest in blaze orange, with a non-toxic insect repellent treatment bonded into the fabric. Her friends encouraged her to make more, and Julie ran Dog Not Gone as a hobby business for 20 years before L.L. Bean got wind of their signature Safety Dog Vest.
“All our products are made here in Skowhegan, Maine, with domestic materials. Many of the people who stitch our products have worked in the same factory for 30 years." — Julie Swain
As demand for their products grew, so did the number of items the Swains developed to keep people and animals safe from ticks and other bothersome bugs. The products are treated with permethrin, a non-toxic, safe chemical that mimics extracts from the chrysanthemum flower and has been proven to repel ticks 73.6 percent better than untreated clothing. The dog line consists of dog vests and kerchiefs made in high-visibility colors for additional protection during hunting season. The “people line” includes outerwear that covers wearers from head to toe and a kids’ line that allows children to play outdoors more safely.
Julie credits Maine businesses, including L.L.Bean, Renys, and Loyal Biscuit Co., with helping their company gain a foothold in the market and giving them the confidence to build their business. Today, Dog Not Gone products are sold nationwide through hundreds of independent retailers, on the Dog Not Gone website, and through L.L.Bean, Orvis, Wayfair, and Amazon.
The Swains are passionate about keeping Dog Not Gone’s manufacturing in Maine. When they started to ramp-up production, the Swains contracted with the Dirigo Stitching mill in Skowhegan for their manufacturing. When it faced closure, they decided to purchase the mill, keeping their production here in Maine and offering contract manufacturing services to other businesses around New England.
“All our products are made here in Skowhegan, Maine, with domestic materials,” says Julie. “Many of the people who stitch our products have worked in the same factory for 30 years. When I refer to Dog Not Gone as a family business, I’m including our employees, who have been with us since the start. And since New England is the epicenter of the Lyme disease epidemic, who better to keep you protected than your neighbors, who are also hiking, hunting, fishing, and gardening outdoors?”