Winks & Whiskers is a small business that creates apparel for "Pet Parents". We interviewed owners, Kayla & Eric, to learn more about their story. Meet Winks & Whiskers at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd!
Tell us about your local business.
We are the Owners of Winks and Whiskers, a Pet Parent Apparel company I co-founded with my husband Eric and our pup Sadie. We sell our original designs on tees, tanks and totes to the pet parent community. We lived in Columbus for 6 years before taking off on the road and we are both originally from the Cincinnati area. Ohio Pride!
Winks and Whiskers was born out of a love between pet and parent. Our driving force behind building a business as a family is that we got married to spend the rest of our life with each other, but after a 9-5 job there isn’t a lot of day left together. So for the next 5 months we spent all non-working hours in our spare bedroom office cranking away at building a business and a brand—a company inspired by our love for each other and our rescue.
Two months after our launch (May 2016) we bought an RV and started traveling full time. We now attend different pet events along the way selling our apparel as a family. With Sadie, our One-Eyed-Wonder by our side, we're bringing the world fresh, on trend graphic tees, tanks and accessories.
What drew you to your craft?
One afternoon in 2014 at a rescue shelter, we met Sadie, a five-year-old, one-eyed rottie/chow mix who stole our hearts. From that moment on, our lives were changed for good. Neither of us ever imagined how much pet adoption would affect us. Since that day almost four years ago, Sadie has never left our side. In attendance to any dog event we could find, we notice the lack of fashion forward tees for the proud animal lover. So, in a little (pet friendly) coffee shop in Grandview, Ohio, we came up with an idea for a line of apparel that would speak to pet parents like ourselves: proud and passionate with an eye for great design, Winks and Whiskers was born.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
We take a lot of pride in our designs and the shirts we make them on. Our favorite tee we’ve made would have to be our Camping Buddy Tee. It’s our lifestyle through and through.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
We both wanted to be marine biologists. Free Willy was obviously played too much as we were kids! Fun fact: we finally got to see wild Orcas while traveling, one of the many advantages of living small and mobile!
What is your creative process?
We take so much pride in our designs. Everything is crafted in house by Eric, the creative of Winks and Whiskers and a lot of times it starts on paper in his favorite sketchbook. After that we pass it around to our closest pet parent friends to see if they’d wear it or not!
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Don’t wait and just do. You WILL learn along the way! If it fails, you learned so much during that journey about yourself, your family, and your friends.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
People in your own community are putting their passions out for the world to see. Supporting them means you are supporting that person's dreams, artistic talents and ability to maintain being a maker in your community.
Why do you love doing what you do?
After rescuing Sadie, we knew Winks and Whiskers had to be more than just about a trendy design or in-season-saying. We had to make a difference. A portion of every purchase goes straight back to our Spotlight Charities. That means every two months we cut hardworking animal advocate groups a check and send it their way! The ability to do something together as a family and give a portion of it back to dogs and volunteers in need is the major reason we love what we do.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
Do it! Take the leap and experience the good, the bad and the ugly. When you look back you will feel more fulfilled. Eric likes to compare it to the hour after a long run. You feel like you accomplished something and though your body is tired, you feel at peace and good about yourself.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
Ohio is our home state! It’s funny when we talk to other people from more “adventurous” areas of the U.S. and they are so surprised when we tell them Ohio has more than just miles and miles of farms. We keep finding new places to visit and explore. You can’t go wrong with a full day or two at Hocking Hills!
Meet Winks & Whiskers at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd, 2017!