Because pets are our everything.
We don’t just ~have~ pets. We welcome them into our family. They’re included in the holiday card portrait and have the kind of elaborate birthday celebrations we could only dream of throwing ourselves. Our pets even have their own Starbucks order. We are all so in love with our furry, fanged, scaled family members that 1 out of 6 pet owners have made a social media account to chronicle the life of their pet. Perhaps nobody is more aware of, or on board with this, than Ben Lebowitz, founder of West & Willow.
West & Willow creates modern one-of-a-kind pet portraits inspired by your pet’s photo. Because despite your pet’s digital spotlight, they deserve a front-and-center spot on the living room gallery wall. When searching what people have to say about the portraits they receive, we scroll through a collage of five star reviews. From framed portraits to phone cases, “amazing” and “love it” and “quality” are keywords repeated throughout.
The chic, modern artistry of the pet portraits makes it a versatile piece that fits into an array of aesthetics. The quality of West & Willow’s art has been vouched for by interior design media including Apartment Therapy, HGTV, and Real Simple. And as of fall 2021, West & Willow launched PETA approved vegan leather accessories crafted by artisans in Portugal, turning morning walks into fashion shows.
Custom portraits come in three sizes, multiple framing options, and range from $65 to $130, depending upon the amount of pets you’re hoping to squeeze into the frame. We spoke to Ben Lebowitz about the founding of West & Willow, our relationship to our pets, and how many pictures of his beloved French Bulldog, Zoey, are in his office.
co-op: First and foremost, how did West & Willow come to be?
Ben Lebowitz: On my 30th birthday, my Mom gave me a charcoal sketch of my dog, Zoey. It brought a tear to my eye and made me feel so happy. So I thought to myself, how can I bring this same joy to people at an affordable price and scalable? West & Willow was born shortly after and it has been the most rewarding endeavor of my career.
co-op: Pets are family. How have you observed the shift in families' relationships to their canine, feline, and reptilian companions? Especially in the past year and a half?
BL: The emotional connection people have with their pets is unparalleled. In the last 2 years, we’ve relied on our pets for emotional support, moments of joy & laughter, and companionship. Anecdotally, I have seen more customers mentioning their “pandemic adoptions” in their reviews - it’s a testament to the love we have for our pets!
"We purposefully design all of our portraits to have a minimalist vibe that adds a subtle personal touch to your existing decor without overpowering the decor of your room."
co-op: In what other ways is West & Willow planning to bring portraits of pets, and generally the joy of pets into people's lives?
BL: West & Willow is the feel-good pet brand. We create products that bring you joy and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. We just launched our 2021 Holiday Limited edition backgrounds, Buffalo Check and Magnolia Leaves, a staple for any pet-loving household’s holiday decor. And earlier this year, we released our first ever pet accessories line with a Vegan Leather, Eco-Friendly Dog leash and collar.
co-op: What was the artistic inspiration behind the art style of the pet portraits?
BL: West & Willow portraits are for modern homes and lovers of modern design. We purposefully design all of our portraits to have a minimalist vibe that adds a subtle personal touch to your existing decor without overpowering the decor of your room.
co-op: How many portraits of Zoey are in the West & Willow office?
BL: Too many to count (and she wouldn’t have it any other way).
"My office buddy. Working from home has its perks, but having teammates to talk to is not one of them. My plant from The Sill is my coworker for now…" - Ben Lebowitz
Bird of Paradise, $57, The Sill
Sparkling Hard Tea, Loverboy
"Awesome hair cream. I use this after a fresh shower and love the way it smells." - Ben Lebowitz
Hair Grooming Paste, $8.10, Bravo Sierra
"Running a startup can make it hard to sleep through the night. These help!" - Ben Lebowitz
Sleep Gummies, $17.49, Hilo
"Zoey smells so good after a fresh bath. I love these scents!" - Ben Lebowitz
Deep Clean Dog Shampoo, $14.99, Kin+Kind