Today we’d like to introduce you to Megan and Marissa White.
Hi Megan and Marissa, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Our business, KC Pups, and Pals, began last summer, June of 2021. I, Megan, am a kindergarten teacher, and have the summers off, and was looking for a summertime project to keep me busy. My sister, Marissa, and I were walking through the craft aisles of Walmart one day and saw a row of colorful quarter squares of fabric and a flier with ideas of how to use them.
One of the ideas was a bandana to tie on your dog. That gave the two of us an idea. We both have dogs of our own. I have a husky mix, named Aspen, and she has a French Bulldog, named Winnie. We thought this would be a fun sewing project for the two of us to work on, and would also make for cute pictures of our dogs.
I got home and started looking up bandana patterns. I had tried to put Aspen in bandanas before, with no success, as he usually chewed through the tie and pulled the bandana off entirely. I thought there must be a way of attaching the bandana to his collar somehow so that he could not remove it and chew on it. And sure enough, I found a pattern online for an over-the-collar bandana. And that is where it all began!
The bandana that slid over the collar worked perfectly for Aspen and Winnie! I made a few more in various prints for our pets and realized I might be onto something! My best friend, Emily, who is also a teacher, did a project with her students that promoted dogs at a local shelter, Wayside Waifs, in hopes to help get them adopted. I knew that Covid-19 had shut down the shelters in our area and dogs had been there waiting to be adopted for quite some time.
I thought if I reached out and offered to make a special bandana for each dog up for adoption with their name on it, the shelter could post pictures of them and get them some positive publicity. When I contacted the shelter, they were so excited about the idea! I got to work right away! I looked at photos of each dog up for adoption and used scrap donations of fabric to make various sizes. About 10 days later, I dropped off 60 bandanas at the shelter. I used my summer to make around 100 more to donate. By the time summer was over, almost every dog that I had made a personalized bandana for had been adopted.
Wayside Waifs posted some photos about my donation and I started having people reach out to me asking for personalized bandanas for their dogs, and asking how much I charge. My sister has a fashion merchandising and marketing degree, and this is where she joined in on the fun! She started an Etsy shop, designed a logo that incorporated the silhouettes of our two dogs, worked on packaging, set pricing, and photographed bandanas for the website. And just like that, we were up and running!
Today, we have made nearly 300 sales on Etsy, and have been invited to participate in 5 local vendor craft fairs, including The Strawberry Swing. We also have our products featured in 2 local small businesses, The Mixed Mutt Creamery, and Cuddle Up Pup Doggie Daycare. Even though our business has changed and evolved rapidly over the last 6 months, the mission at the heart of the business remains the same, as we continue to donate a portion of our proceeds to local animal shelters and organizations.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
As any small business does, we have encountered our fair share of challenges thus far.
When we first opened our Etsy shop, we had a very slow start to sales. We had to learn not only how to promote our shop to people we know but also had to learn a lot about the behind-the-scenes process. We started with naming all of our prints with creative titles and quickly realized that they were not being found due to a lack of searchable terms. We reached out to other Etsy shop owners through an Etsy seller Facebook page, and asked for feedback and advice on how to better our shop, and increase our views and sales. We got a lot of positive feedback, as well as some helpful tips, which allowed us to make the necessary changes to our shop.
Another obstacle has been trying to figure out what an optimum amount of inventory per print is. Each in-person event that we have done, has shown us different results in popularity in the areas of sizes, prints, and patterns. Outguessing what customers want at various events has proven to be a challenge.
A final trial that we have faced, is trying to balance this small business with the demands of each of us having a full-time job. We both work at our careers all day, and then come home and sew all night. We have been known to still be sewing at 2:00 AM the night before a large craft show. We have even faced two broken sewing machines the night before one of our biggest events! But the two of us are very resilient and work well together, and we have taken on these challenges and overcome them together!
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Our business makes over-the-collar dog bandanas for any size and breed of dog. We are known for offering fun prints, personalization, and even taking custom order requests.
We have made bandanas for baby showers, gender reveals, birthdays, and other special occasions. We are most proud of how far we have come in a short amount of time. We never would have guessed that donating a few bandanas would turn into a successful small business! We think the thing that sets us apart is our customer service and our passion for animals.
We are looking to expand our product assortment in the new year, by including matching items for both pet and owner! We are also looking into designing and printing our own fabric to be able to offer one-of-a-kind products to our customers!
If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
My sister and I are 5 years apart in age, but we have always been best friends. Even when one of us moved away for college or moved states for our career, we never let the distance keep us apart.
As kids, we were very active in all sorts of activities, both in and out of school. We were both competitive dancers and straight-A students. We were very involved in school activities including choir, dance team, DECA, Student Council, Honor Society, school musicals, and other various clubs.
We have always had a knack for crafting. We definitely got that from our mom, Gileann, and our grandma, Pat. Our family has always been big on painting and sewing and making homemade gifts for people with love. While I never used to be a seamstress until recently, my sister always has been so talented with a sewing machine. In college, she even made and designed clothing in her fashion courses. I have always been crafty and creative, and really shine when getting to make things for others or for my classroom.
Our family has also always had a huge heart for animals. There has never been a point in our life where we have had less than four pets at once. We have had quite the variety of animals in our home since we were young, from dogs and cats to birds and hamsters, to fish and frogs! It really is no surprise that with our love for both crafts and animals, we now have a successful small business that incorporates both!
- XX-Small- $10.00
- X-Small- $12.00
- Small- $14.00
- Medium and Large- $16.00
- X-Large- $18.00
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KCPupsAndPals
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kcpupsandpals