Sierra Tishgart is the co-founder of Great Jones, a direct-to-consumer cookware startup, 2018 Forbes Under 30 Honoree, and former senior editor at New York magazine’s Grub Street. The Philadelphia native currently lives in the West Village of Manhattan. There, she maintains a home garden called the Tishgarden, where she and her Australian Shepherd, Hubble, like to spend their mornings.
Did you always know that you were a dog person?
Yes, I did. I don’t know how I knew, but I was the classic child begging my parents for a dog. They considered it, but they ended up getting two cats. A little disappointing but they were nice kids.
“I’ve named a company and a dog in one year and I truly don’t know how I did it.”
Do you consider yourself a cat person then?
No. Maybe this is a classic feeling for a rebellious kid. I was always thinking, “I’m a dog person and in a house for cat people. I’m misunderstood.”
It actually took me finally fulfilling this lifelong dream of getting a dog that now I have a really nice appreciation for cats and I’m considering getting one. I don’t think I’m going to, but it freed me up to not be in opposition to a cat, and I have one friend who has both—two dogs and a cat—and I just love how they all interact with each other. I think it’s really beautiful.
What was the point in your life where you felt like you were ready to get a dog?
I wanted one forever. It was really tied to having enough disposable income. It was something I wanted to do by myself, but when I was working as a writer, I did not feel like I could financially support it. I now have a partner who can also contribute, and it’s not the sexiest answer, but it’s the realest answer.
I think it’s super responsible and great that you waited until you could afford to have a dog and give it its best life. How did you know Hubble was the one?
I had wanted a dog for my whole life so it was very overwhelming to make that decision, and I joke that I spent a summer dating a lot of dogs. I was always volunteering to dog sit, and I was fostering dogs. It was a really nice way to figure out the activity level that was right for me, to some degree. So, I spent all this amazing time over the course of a few months with different dogs.
I took care of a friend’s Australian Shepherd named Nash, and Nash and I were just the best of friends. We just really connected—I connected with other dogs too, but Nash and I particularly did. And I was thinking about this because I was fostering dogs—I very much believed in the power of adopting. That was the path I was thinking I would go down, but it was brought to my attention that my friend had a really, really amazing experience with her breeder and her breeder had posted that she had one puppy who was a bit older who hadn’t been selected.
And that was Hubble. I saw this photo and I just melted. And that was it.
How did the name Hubble come about?
I’ve named a company and a dog in one year and I truly don’t know how I did it. It was important that the name appealed to both my fiancé and myself. He was suggesting names that had a lot to do with sci-fi and space, which are neither of my interests. So I came up with Hubble because for him it reflects the telescope and space. And for me, it is a nod to The Way We Were, which is a beautiful Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford movie, and I liked that we both had different reference points here. It’s funny to see, when we say his name, which reference point people understand or are familiar with.
Was it a mutual decision between you and your fiancé to get a dog?
I remember on our second date, we were in the Whitney Museum and I said to him, “Did you grow up with animals?” And he was like, “Eh.” And I’m like, “Oh fuck. I really like this guy.” He had known from the start that this was interesting to me and that I was really excited by it and, for him, this wasn’t something that he would’ve done personally, but he was and is super supportive of it. Hubble is predominantly my responsibility and we also live in different places, so that alleviates it for him.
I want to say I convinced him, but he knew that this was the thing I wanted the most in life for as long as I can remember, and it has really been nice to see his own relationship with Hubble develop.
Will Hubble be participating in your wedding?
I would very much like to find a role for him. We’re getting married inside so that’s limited. But I’ve been thinking about making him a greeter outside as people enter where they’re going.
Tell us about a typical day in the life with you and Hubble.
I wake up in the morning and Hubble and I usually play in my garden or we go for a walk. Our morning walk around the West Village is a really precious part of my day, so often we’ll get breakfast in the area. I like to bring Hubble to Oslo or Fairfax and Mah-Ze-Dar Bakery. Sometimes, we’ll go for a run, but that’s usually optimistic to say that happens. He goes to daycare. He’s a puppy with a lot of energy, so that makes sense for his breed and his life.
How has training Hubble been?
When I first got him, he was a little bit older, so we didn’t have the crying through the night puppy thing. Hubble was super well behaved, and then took a turn, and then now it’s taken a turn for the better. We worked on-and-off with a trainer named Kate Perry, recommended by a friend.
The actual hardest part of Hubble’s training was when we moved apartments. I couldn’t really see that coming and I don’t think I properly prepared for it. We moved a few months into his life, and he had some very protective tendencies, like barking when someone buzzed the door. I think the move was jarring for him. So, that was the most challenging part of our training.
As a former food editor, do you have favorite dog-friendly restaurants around the city?
Yes. I love High Street on Hudson, which is one of my favorite restaurants and this time of year they have tons of outdoor seating. They’re also just exceptionally nice to dogs, and it’s women-owned. There are a lot of amazing women who work at the restaurant, several of whom have multiple dogs themselves. There’s Chef Mary [Attea] and the woman who runs the bakery, Melissa [Weller]—both have dogs. They are just so kind and it’s obviously really nice for [Hubble] to sit outside. They also usually bring out bacon, which is so nice and generous, so it’s his favorite place.
Tell us about Hubble’s personality. How would you describe him if he were a person?
I always say he’s like a teenage boy. He knows he’s cute and he knows he’s smart and he kind of walks around strutting. I do feel like he has this somewhat sassy energy. He loves playing fetch. He will go up to every single person in the dog park and he will drop the ball in front of them and just look at them with his cute little eyes and wait for them to play fetch with him. He’s really persistent, and it’s cute, but it’s also a little pushy. I imagine he’s like one of these really cool little teen boys who used to skateboard on my street.
Would you say he’s a flirt?
People say getting a dog helps them meet their neighbors or get to know their neighbors because it’s New York and it’s hard to talk to people here. Have you found that to be true?
A little bit. It definitely opens up conversations with neighbors, but I haven’t met anyone I’ve become close to. It’s much more just cordial and chatty. I definitely feel that I have wandered into this other level of New York living where you do see people with dogs communicate in a different way. I try to make sure that I have my head up, that I’m not staring at my phone and can engage there.
What’s Hubble like at dinner parties?
He loves alcohol. It’s weird. He hasn’t found a drink he doesn’t like.
Are you kidding?
I’m not a big drinker myself. If someone puts down a drink, he would put his nose in the drink and drink it, which is obviously a liability. He’s super friendly and social. He’s like, the drunk at the party, I guess, but we’re trying to curb it. If anything, the issue with him is that he’s too friendly and wants to just hangout and lick your face and play. The life of the party, I would say.
I love that. He’s a good dinner party guest. What does Hubble eat?
I use The Farmer’s Dog for food. Seems to be really high quality. Hubble had an upset stomach for the first couple months, and it’s very much stabilized with [The Farmer’s Dog], so that’s been great. It delivers to my door, which is easy.
Have you ever cooked for Hubble?
I’ve made him chicken and rice in our Great Jones stockpot which called the Big Deal. I still make rice for him every week in the Big Deal. I make a massive pot of it because we’re really trying to bulk him up. Someone recommended just giving him a lot of rice in addition to all the meat he’s eating, so I make this huge thing of rice and it lasts for the whole week.
What are your other favorite dog brands?
I have a lot of Wild One leashes and collars, and I think they’re really sleek and nicely designed. I just got something that I love. It’s a collaboration between a new company called Heart and Paw, a new veterinary startup. It’s based in Philadelphia where I’m from, and they collaborated with a really cool local ceramicist called Felt+Fat to make dog bowls that I love. They’re really cute.
Has Hubble improved your life as an entrepreneur?
Yes, he has 100 percent made me better and calmer when navigating my business. I got him when I was starting Great Jones. On the outside, it was not necessarily the most opportune time.
I’m classically always working. Just having that interaction with Hubble is so restorative and really calming. I think it’s made my ability to make decisions much stronger. I think it’s made my ability to weather any unexpected or unpleasant events much stronger, too. That’s the biggest impact.
There’s also so much activity in the pet startup space, and it’s really valuable for me to meet other entrepreneurs like at Wild One or The Farmer’s Dog or Heart and Paw, especially people whose businesses are quite young—in any space, but obviously I have a really strong, vested interest in dogs.
Photography by Tayler Smith