I LOVE MAKING TAGS. I'm completely obsessed with my work. I have the BEST customers and I want to make the BEST tags that I can. I will *never* stop aggressively pursuing improvements to the quality and durability of my products. Honestly, if you want someone to spend an insane amount of time on a stamped dog tag for you, I'm your girl. As far as I'm aware, my process is very different from any other handstamped tag maker. I can only complete a few tags per day despite working very long hours, usually 7 days a week. Although I am always exploring new ways to make parts of my "unique" (read: slothlike) process more efficient, I am not willing to sacrifice any aspect of it to be able to make more tags per day. As a result I have limited orders and switched to complexity-based pricing. My goal is to both produce ridiculously high quality, ultra-custom, exceptionally durable tags AND provide ridiculously fast service. I don't want my customers to sit on a wait list for more than a month. The longer I am in this business, the less I am willing to compromise on any of that, and the only sure way for me to achieve this is by steeply increasing prices. As a side benefit, I may at some point also consistently make minimum wage... that would be cool too. I am of course uncomfortable with the price hikes regardless of the 500 reasons to go this direction with my business and I apologize to my customers. If I could clone myself and make all the tags all of you want to order every day, I totally freaking would. Alas! This is the only real solution I have. Every day I am thankful that my customer base allows me to Live The Dream and in return I can only promise to try my best to make my products and customer service worthy of the high pricetag.
About the tagmaker.
My name is Devi and I live outside of Boulder, CO. Before moving to CO, I graduated from the University of North Texas with an Applied Behavior Analysis major. I've also been a dog agility competitor at the national level, traveling for shows, always driving all over the country to sit in a dusty horse barn or indoor soccer facility for a weekend and make it back in time for class on Mondays. I share my life with two border collies, Fever and Bang, and two pyrenean shepherds, Orca and Wallaby. Fever's a stunning loudmouth redhead, totally chill outside the agility ring and psychotic the moment we walk in. We call her a space coyote because she's what a coyote would look like if coyotes were from space. It makes tons of sense, really. Bang's a curly tailed merley sporter collie, an incredible athlete and a true teammate in agility, mostly sugar sweet with a bit of an anger problem to make things interesting. Orca's a darling 20lbs of frantic energy, exceptionally clever and unbelievably devoted. Once she's your friend she's your friend for life and most everyone falls in love with her instantly. Wee Wallaby is a smooth face pyrshep from Tottakai kennel in Finland. She looks like someone gave a Tervuren a bad haircut and hit it with a shrink ray. She's bold and funny and loves to run fast and snap her teeth.
That's me and my crew.
Mad Dog Metal is my vision for providing awesome custom products for people as dog crazy as me.
MDM's Great and Terrible History
In 2009, I was looking for a special gift for a friend and came across hand stamped metal jewelry. It turned out that this was absolutely what I was looking for. I found the perfect present for my friend, but my interest in hand stamping lingered. It became an obsession-- I fell in love with the little blackened letters, shiny metal and smooth edges. Night after night, I spent hours looking through the work of a zillion talented artists and I honestly thought to myself, "If I could do anything, it would be this." I kept coming back to it and wondering, but the idea of starting with exactly zero knowledge, acquiring the correct tools and teaching myself the skills involved was completely overwhelming. It didn't seem overly realistic and I shelved the idea for almost a year. In August of 2010 I gave in and purchased my first letter stamp set. I sat down with a rusty old household hammer, aluminum soda cans cut into pieces and some scraps of copper that came with my letter set to test my new tools on. I loved stamping immediately although I was extremely frustrated with the results-- I struggled to get the letters where I wanted them in space or the same depth as the ones next to them. I was absolutely determined to make what I wanted to and spent hour after hour figuring out which problems were based in lack of skill and which problems could be solved using nontraditional equipment or traditional equipment in a nontraditional way. I obsessed, mentally measuring the difference between what I could currently produce and what I REALLY wanted to produce, and worked it out piece by piece. A year of that later, Mad Dog Metal opened in October 2011 and my first customers were thrilled with their tags. I've never stopped improving my products and never will. Customer service was another story altogether, though. There was a massive difference between how much work I thought I could get done in a day and how much I actually could. Trial and error did not help this. I was never any less sure that I could keep promises to customers, even when I had failed over and over and there was no reason to think this time would be different. I was absolutely miserable because I was constantly disappointing my customers, but my misery did not change my behavior. In my last semester of college I took a neuroscience class and saw slides about inattentive ADHD and instantly knew that was me. Two adult ADHD specialist professionals laughed at how severe my test scores were. My diagnosis, medication and therapy changed EVERYTHING for me and for MDM. I knew that things had to completely change or I could no longer run the business. I stopped advertising, took a long break, and tried to figure out how to turn things around. I quietly reopened the store on Etsy, building my confidence that I could provide the kind of service my customers deserved. I was thrilled to be back in action making Mad Dog tags. When news of my improved customer service spread, I was flooded with orders. I almost kept up at first, but still could not manage to maintain a consistent turnaround time. Although things were going off the rails, customers seemed very happy. I think it was obvious I was working crazy hours and turning out a lot of tags, even if I couldn't estimate how long they would take at all. This time I tried to cope by working nonstop. I spent a year working every waking hour. My boyfriend would see me maybe 20 mins a day before I'd be back in the basement. I neglected everything else in my life and still couldn't maintain an accurate turnaround time. It was clear to me then that the problems had nothing to do with "not working enough." Again, it became clear that things had to completely change or I could no longer run the business. My dogs and my boyfriend needed me to be around occasionally. I was nursing several work related injuries because I couldn't make myself quit at night when I could maybe get another super late order done. I almost sold the business, but I couldn't let go of it. I was still thrilled with the work, I still had a million ideas to make better tags, I didn't want to quit at all. I just didn't think I could manage work life balance or ever have truly good customer service. Ultimately, scheduled work hours and a Wait List were the answer and made the business sustainable. I don't take work until I'm just about ready for it. I schedule my custom orders very lightly so I won't get more than a day or two behind even when things go wrong. This also means I have time to work on other things too (like takeout tags!)