A new Sandy Springs business called My Pooch Face is working like a dog, producing custom portrait paintings of pets for hundreds of clients across the country.
“We got it down to an art,” said David Lefkovitz, the local entrepreneur who launched the web-based pet portrait business 10 months ago. Since then, the company has shipped more than 900 “pawtraits” to customers around the country.
Despite the name, the company paints virtually any furry pet, from cats to pigs to, in one recent case, a zebra. The acrylic paintings on canvas—in natural tones or with touches of psychedelic color—are done by a team of artists whose work is supervised and finished by Aziz Kadmiri, a Woodstock painter whose clients include the pop star Usher.
Seeing a painting Kadmiri had made of a dog inspired Lefkovitz to create the company—but not because he wanted a canine portrait of his own. As it happens, Lefkovitz has no furry pets—and for a good reason.
“We’re hyperallergenic. We have fish and turtles,” Lefkovitz said. “I was the only one who didn’t have a pet [dog or cat] going into this.”
But he did see the response to Kadmiri’s dog painting, which the artist had posted on Facebook, and he sensed opportunity. Lefkovitz is best known in business circles as co-founder of his family real estate company, LEFKO Group, but he also has a background in software and operates a small company called Niche Digital Brands. He saw that custom pet portraits would have a big market and could be easily publicized on social media.
The result has been strong sales with a soft launch—the full My Pooch Face website just went live two months ago. The company joined the likes of Coca-Cola in winning one of this year’s MAX Awards, an honor for marketing skills given by Georgia State University’s business school and the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
My Pooch Face came from a business calculation, but Lefkovitz said he’s struck by the warm and fuzzy side.
“This is the first business I’ve been in where I’ve seen this level of intensity and love for the product,” he said.
People variously buy the portraits, he said, as “celebrations” of current pets, as gifts for others, and as memorials when “their furbaby has passed.”
“I can probably tell you the life story of clients we’ve had over the last 10 months,” said Lena Kotler, My Pooch Face’s head of marketing and operations, who works to establish ongoing customer relations. “It wasn’t just this dry, unemotional purchase.”
The business mixes custom portraits with a menu of options. Kadmiri and crew base the animal portrait strictly on a photo and customer interview.
Customers can choose three general styles: “granola dog,” meaning natural colors or “happy puppy” and “hippy pooch,” which have varying degrees of bright colors mixed in as highlights.
Current prices range from around $300 to more than $1,500, depending on the painting’s size and number of animals. The company aims to launch lower-cost digital portraits soon, Lefkovitz said.
Other products may follow, Lefkovitz said, as he deliberately chose the “My Pooch Face” name as a catchy term that doesn’t explicitly limit the company to paintings.
For more about My Pooch Face, see mypoochface.com.