• Arm the Animals tank top
  • Dog Mom AF shirt
  • Cat Daddy AF
  • I'd Rather Rescue Animals Tote
  • Catfefe shirt
  • Arm the Animals co-founders: CEO Matthew Heinemeyer and Danian Rios, president. - Photo by Emily G. Peters / Beacon Media News
Business Spotlight

Fashion Meets Activism: Arm the Animals

Amazon and web-based clothing company goes global with designs to save the animals

By Emily G. Peters

Sometimes, helping solve one of the world’s problems can be as simple as donning a t-shirt. Arcadia-based clothing company Arm the Animals (ATA) has done just that by transforming fashion into viral animal advocacy.

Beginning as an online clothing store, Arm the Animals launched in a Pasadena apartment by locals Matthew Heinemeyer (CEO), Danian Rios (president) and his brother Rigo Diaz (CFO). Their mission? To promote animal welfare.

The brand resulted from an emotional turning point when co-founder Heinemeyer lost his sister to a heart condition in 2010.

“My sister was integral in raising me. She never had kids of her own, but she continued to adopt and place animals throughout her life,” explained Heinemeyer. “When she passed, she had about 12 cats and dogs and it opened my eyes to how difficult it was for her to place pets in proper housing. I wanted to do something in her memory—and then the phrase ‘Arm the Animals’ popped into my head.”

Heinemeyer began experimenting with logos and soon a web-based boutique was born. With clever graphic t-shirts as their flagship items, ATA also designs bags, phone cases and more to help pet parents wear the love. Though initially new to online retail, ATA’s strong presence on Amazon Marketplace and marketing prowess turned them into a global brand with a healthy social media following.

“That’s the beauty of the internet,” remarked Heinemeyer. “If you’re active on social media and tie it back to your website, there’s no telling who will find you.”

Arm the Animals supports animal welfare in several ways. Potential pet parents can search their online database for thousands of animals currently in need of adoption or shelter. A portion of sale proceeds also go toward helping a wide variety of animal welfare organizations or rescue missions.

ATA also donates their marketing, design and social media expertise to support nonprofits in their animal advocacy efforts. Their “rescue partner network” has expanded from Southern California to India, raising critical funds to save endangered and threatened wildlife across the globe.

As awareness grows, Heinemeyer, Rios and Diaz plan to open a storefront in just steps away from the recently completed Metro stop in Arcadia. They consider the storefront the next logical step.

“There’s no continent left that we haven’t sold into besides Antarctica,” said Heinemeyer, remarking on clients from the Middle East to Africa to Australia. “But we’ve also had good success with boutique retail. When saw the open space in Arcadia we thought, ‘What if we created our own boutique here?’”

Participating in local events like the recent Patchwork Show and upcoming CatCon in Pasadena on August 12–13 helps Arm the Animals engage with local advocates. They are eager to open their doors to the community at large.

“There really is something for everybody,” said Rios about their brand. “Animal lovers come from all ages.”

Arm the Animals’ offices are located at 113 E. Santa Clara Street in Arcadia, with their retail storefront soon to follow at the same location. To wear the love, visit www.armtheanimals.com and follow at Instagram,  FacebookTwitter @ArmTheAnimals.

June 14, 2017

About Author

Emily G. Peters My name is Emily and language is my joy. Whether I'm writing or editing, my calling is to share stories that inspire and edify others. When I'm not bent over my laptop writing, you might find me at the Getty, prowling the Sierra Madre foothills or on a plane heading somewhere new.


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