On Turning A Hobby Into A Hustle: Brittanie Varena of Fabulous Paws
this spring, our theme is: synergy.
It’s time to invest in relationships, projects and people that will help us grow. It’s time to create a little synergy.
synergy (n.): the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn't have achieved on its own.
It's the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. In life, at work and in our communities, synergy is that space where the magic happens—where things fall into place, values align and our ideas find a home.
So, what does professional and personal synergy look like? How do we reject cultures of comparison and approach collaboration? How do we protect our own energy as we navigate opportunities, success and failures? This Spring, our programs will serve as a moment to hear from and amplify women and nonbinary leaders in our community who create synergy through their work.
As we prepare for craftHER Market Spring ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways in which they create synergy through their work. Read on for a peek into their process.
q: let’s dig into fabulous paws. how did you get where you are today?
I started out as a Veterinary Technician, which I loved to do every day. After an injury landed me on Worker’s Compensation, I decided to keep myself busy by sewing clothing for my pup to wear. My mom saw the things I was making for my own dog and suggested I sell them to other owners. I specialized at that time in making great high-quality dog hoodies for all sizes of dogs—as large as a 140-lb. Great Danes down to the smallest 4-lb. pup. It’s been a long journey of creating new products and finding new things to bring to pet parents that are durable (but also super fun and colorful).
I’m currently the only one creating and running all sides of the business, but my family is a huge support and help. hey help me run shows, cut out products and have even stayed up during my long nights of sewing to turn bandanas for me. I do weekly pop-up markets all over Austin and have expanded my shows to include larger craft markets including Pet Expos in the Texas. In August, I will be journeying to Colorado for my first out-of-state show at the Denver Pet Expo. I will be reopening my website in the next month and expanding into my own freestanding website, too. I also have several of my products at some great local pet stores, including Phydeaux and Friends and Woofgang grooming and Bakery.
Q: How do you handle perceived failures within your work?
Everyone has some sort of failure at some time. Sometimes an idea looks amazing on paper, but once it comes to executing the project it just does not always go the way you want it to. I will either try a different approach or just scrap the idea altogether and just move onto my next project. I try not to let it affect my day or any of the future work I do.
Q: Who is your target audience for your product and how do you connect with them?
My target audience are all of the great pet owners I meet every day. I have a great connection with them in the way we love and care for our pets and how we like to make them feel like they are always welcome and a great part of our fabulous paws family. I have some wonderful customers that come and visit and always appreciate that I remember their dog by name. I greet each pet owner and their pet and always give them the attention they deserve and make sure they pick out the print that best represents their owner and the pet that will wear it.
q: Can you tell us about the production process behind your goods?
I make each product starting with picking out which fabrics will be the best for that product. Bow ties and collars are always the best with a smaller "micro" print and bandanas look best with a larger vivid print. After I pick out the perfect fabrics I will hand cut out each product with my fabric scissors and stack them up high. I then move on to sewing each and every bow tie, bandana, collar or anything I decide to work on that day on either my serger machine which is mostly used to sew my bow ties and dog hoodies. I make all of my bandanas on a industrial sewing machine which has been a huge asset to speeding up the process and letting me make large amounts of each product faster.
q: What do you wish you knew before starting your own business?
The thing I wish I knew before I started my business was truthfully how much time and how much of my life I would have to sacrifice to make my business successful. I believed that I would be able to take as much time off as I wanted, but if you want your business to succeed it takes a lot of time and patience—and it will take a lot of sacrifice. I'm starting to find a balance to my life that makes it easier to try to find time for myself now, but for the longest time that was a huge struggle for me. I have been in business for five years, and I still learn new things each day about how to balance my work and home life. Getting to stay home with my dogs and travel when I want to is definitely a huge perk, but it’s taken me a long time to get here. Try to find a balance to your life because we only get one chance to live our best life.
Would you like to meet Brittanie in-person? Come out to craftHER Market on April 14, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.