Friends are the family you choose and, for HeARTs Speak, Danielle Maveal of BarkBox is as deeply loving and curiously intuitive as a grandmother toting a purse full of sweets. The sweets she discreetly hands you when Mom isn't looking; one glossy, sugary treasure instantly lifting the spirits.
Since its launch by three dog-loving founders in December of 2011, BarkBox has been delivering happiness in the form of subscriptions to canine elation. Boxes of fun and frivolity, assembled with great care and delivered to the doorsteps of our beloved, many-legged companions for whom BarkBox share a strong affection.
Danielle Maveal is the General Manager of Social Good for Bark & Co., the umbrella under which BarkBox exists. Alongside it are BarkCare in-home vet care and the BarkPost blog. BarkBox started with 50 subscribers in the first month and has swelled to a remarkable 150,000, and while the concept is simple, it’s highly gratifying. Those with a keen interest in spoiling their pets can visit the BarkBox website, select their pets’ size range and commence waiting on the outskirts of their seats (or dog beds) for a monthly delivery of toys, treats and general merriment, all in the name of dog health and happiness.
Danielle’s two furry kids, Eugene and Cricket, are enjoyers of their very own BarkBoxes too, and both just happen to be foster failures. Eugene is a 1-year-old Boxer/Bulldog mix, originally from Manhattan ACC and Cricket is an 8 year old, blind Chihuahua, who found her way to Danielle from North Carolina. Danielle says Eugene is not the fussy type and loves everything he gets in his BarkBoxes, but his very favorites are toys that contain treats. Those are Danielle’s favorites too, because they keep Eugene nice and occupied. Danielle says that Cricket, on the other hand, is a “Chihuahua who can chew like a Rottweiler”, and she’s partial to bully sticks.
BarkBox's happy-making doesn't stop with those little boxes of joy, however. Danielle and the team are true animal lovers and spread their cheer to a wealth of pet-related causes, including city and county shelters, rescues, low cost spay and neuter programs, military dog organizations, shelter volunteer training programs and, of course, HeARTs Speak.
Collaboration and an appreciation for teamwork lay at the epicenter of successful organizations, especially those of the non-profit persuasion. Strong, dependable relationships serve as the rock-solid foundation on which great things happen and when a cause inspires as much soul and devotion as animal welfare, mountains can invariably be moved. A shining example of this type of powerful collaboration was presented in BarkBox's Hugo Challenge.
Announced in 2012, The Hugo Challenge held the promise of a $10,000 grant for an organization or individual with an influential idea, an idea that could offer long-lasting improvement in the lives of animals. When Danielle started with Bark & Co a little over a year ago, she met with the company’s founders and learned they shared many similar ideas on how for-profit companies could support shelters and rescues. The founders asked Danielle to spend $10,000 in a thoughtful way and together they devised The Hugo Challenge.
HeARTs Speak rose to the challenge, proposing the unique and exciting Perfect Exposure Project, a bold endeavor that aimed to provide high-intake shelters with the tools and education to produce quality photographs of their incoming animals.
After a voting period, HeARTs Speak were named winner of The Hugo Challenge, a win that breathed life into a momentous, snowball of an idea and made The Perfect Exposure Project the first project funded by Bark & Co. Danielle said she was attracted to the idea because she’d witnessed a kill-shelter in Alabama go from a 75% kill rate to no-kill status, all at the hands of a volunteer photographer. When Danielle saw the plan for not only a photography workshop, complete with equipment, but also a way to share knowledge with the rescue community and a plan for continued support beyond the photo workshop, she knew HeARTs Speak would be the perfect partner to support.
We asked Danielle what her thoughts were on HeARTs Speak’s artist community and its work, and how important she felt quality imagery was for homeless animals.
“Great photos are everything! So many dogs are getting attention from social media, not only by potential adopters but also by rescues that can step up and save these pups! What I absolutely LOVE about HeARTs Speak is that they don't just drop in, teach a photography class, and then move on. They provide long term support to the people and shelters they touch.”
The Perfect Exposure Project became a huge success and was enthusiastically received by two highly deserving shelters, Animal Care and Control of New York’s Manhattan Center and Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia.
In powering forward with their ‘Social Good’ initiatives, which Danielle works on incorporating into all of Bark & Co’s company’s, BarkFund was recently launched. BarkFund is a weekly grant given to the most innovative people and projects in rescue. Ideas are pitched and BarkFund invests in the best one each week. Danielle and Bark & Co are aiming to give away 1 million dollars in 2014 and shelters can apply to be part of their program via the BarkBox website. Furthermore, the team over at BarkPost has devised a way for dog welfare organizations to fundraise by sharing the BarkPost’s most popular articles. This is truly exciting, because it allows Bark & Co to reclaim the funds they’d ordinarily give to an online advertising platform and reroute it to small shelters and rescues.
Thanks to Danielle and Bark & Co, HeARTs Speak recently secured additional funds to launch a third Perfect Exposure Project, this one extending to Animal Care and Control of New York’s Brooklyn Center. Held in January, this third phase delivered on Perfect Exposures’ promise to empower even more shelter staff and volunteers and arm them with quality equipment and knowledge for effectively photographing the animals in their care.
To stay entertained, visit the BarkPost at thebarkpost.com. To keep your dog entertained, subscribe to BarkBox at barkbox.com.