Life has gotten stale over the past five months since the shelter-in-place order went into effect.
Everyone has binge-watched their favorite television show, perhaps multiple times. They’ve run out of puzzles to challenge their minds, worn paths from walking around the outside of their homes, and have had the same old tired microwaved dinners on a daily basis.
One Hollister family was stuck in this same rut, until they decided to do something about it after they found inspiration in the unlikeliest of places: cat fashion shows.
Shortly after viewing these frisky felines begrudgingly donning whatever wild garments their humans outfitted them with, the Loftus sisters created TerrifiCollars, a full line of handmade dog collars and cat toys.
Lauren and Morgan Loftus, who hail from Modesto, are currently living in Hollister with their uncle and aunt, Chuck and Nicole Bellemare, as they attend college. Lauren, 20, is a junior at California State University Monterey Bay, while Morgan, 18, is a sophomore at Modesto Junior College. Both, however, are attending virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Loftus’ plans to get a job over the summer to pay for their college tuition was squashed because of the pandemic and resulting business closures. While stuck at home and perusing videos on social media, the sisters came across clips of fashion shows with cats. They looked at their own two cats and thought a similar project would be a fun way to pass the time.
Their cats, though, were having none of it. So, the sisters turned to their two dogs, who were much more amenable to modeling handmade collars the Loftus’ made for them.
That sparked the proverbial lightbulb moment.
“We said, ‘We can perfect these and sell them,’” Morgan said.
TerrifiCollars was born.
Lauren is the creative side of the business, designing the patterns, choosing the fabric and taking photos of the products. Morgan handles the business side, such as creating a tax identification number, setting up a bank account and managing the website.
They began crafting prototypes in May and June, and launched their business on July 1. The sisters first thought they would sell a collar a week. But their projections were off, and in a good way: According to Morgan, they averaged a sale a day over their first month, and things have been continuing to pick up thanks to word of mouth and reaching out to social media influencers. They received their first international sale from Germany, and on a recent weekend had eight purchases.
Their products, which are made to order, include their best-selling red polka dot dog collar, a watermelon-themed collar and a “President Donald Trump Kitty Kicker” cat toy with catnip.
The Loftus sisters’ aunt and uncle chip in with the business.
“This is definitely an opportunity we wouldn’t have had or even thought of if we weren’t in a pandemic,” Nicole Bellemare said.
Chuck Bellemare said the sisters are learning real-life business skills such as marketing, shipping, finances and taxes.
“To see the girls light up and do something different and unique, it warms our hearts,” he said.
Lauren said she is excited to put in the work and see others enjoy her handiwork.
“It’s very satisfying for me,” she said.
Morgan added that “every sale is exciting.”
“I like the challenge of having to figure out how to create a website from scratch,” she said. “I’ve never done that before. It’s really fun and really exciting to continue seeing the results.”
Chuck Bellemare said he is proud of the sisters for working through a difficult situation caused by the pandemic.
“When they were given the Covid lemon, they made lemonade out of it,” he said. “They were really excited about getting jobs this summer. When Covid hit, we were all kind of just stagnant.
“We all brightened up [with the business]. It snapped us out of our funk.”
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