Eileen and her Pawsome bow ties
Eileen is the creator of Pawsome bow ties and has always liked experimenting with her creative side. What started as a fun hobby making bow ties for her cat Louie, soon developed into a unique way to raise money for the Potts Point Veterinary Hospital desexing program. Eileen’s bow ties and fundraising efforts are a great reminder that every little bit helps whether small or big. Read more about how Eileen started her bow tie business below.
How did you come up with the idea of making bow ties for cats and dogs and how long have you been doing this?
We fostered kittens for the NSW RSPCA while we were in Sydney. It's a somewhat stressful but very rewarding process, especially as you watch the little kittens go from helpless bits of skin and bones to curious creatures with their own personalities.
One of our foster kittens, Louie, was especially precocious and well-behaved -- so much so that we couldn't help but keep him for our own.
Louie has a bit of a regal personality, but as a very limited single-income household, we didn't exactly have the funds to dress him up in fancy store-bought accessories (most of his necessities and toys were from Daiso or The Reject Shop).So one day when browsing through a Salvos store, I bought an old, stained tie with a pretty print. I figured I could try and make Louie something to fit over his collar as a little home-made accessory. He looked pretty good once it was done, so I made a few more from the same tie for friends -- one of whom suggested that I sell them.
I didn't feel quite right about selling the ties. I would love to build my own business, but everything cat-related to me is directly correlated to our rescue efforts.
Luckily, a friend of mine is a vet at Potts Point Veterinary Hopsital (PPVH). As part of her own volunteering efforts, she desexes cats and kittens captured from local colonies, generally from the Kings Cross area. PPVH absorbs all of the expenses of desexing strays themselves, which includes pricey medicines that they use to stabilize the cats prior/post surgery on top of the temporary accommodation and care. I was inspired by their work and felt that it was a good cause to support, so started creating the bowties specifically for sale at their store.
So it sounds like you started Pawsome as a hobby but with the added benefit of donating the proceeds to the PPVH to fund their desexing efforts. How has it been going? Has it grown bigger than you expected and/or are you looking for ways to grow Pawsome?
I have a hard time staying still. I love building and tinkering - in the US it's known as a "maker" or "tinker" culture. Lingerz is my "brand" for all the random things I like to try my hand at making, like jewellery, terrariums or papercraft, but Pawsome is its own separate "brand" because it's aim is to be non-profit, in service of animals.
I guess I started Pawsome 22 weeks ago, according to Instagram! It hasn't grown very much, but that's partly because I haven't been promoting it heavily. Right now, I'm the only one making the bowties by hand and it takes about an hour to an hour and a half for me to make each one. As you can imagine, that makes inventory pretty scarce.
I'd love to grow Pawsome as a way for communities to support local animal care efforts, but am not quite sure how to go about doing so. It's important to me that we keep the cost of the bowties low so that as much money as possible can go towards the aid of cats.
Right now, I basically only charge for the cost of the materials and let PPVH sell at a price that makes sense to them and their customers. That way, the ties actually get bought and can bring in funds that can be directly applied to their voluntary desexing efforts.
What a great start! What advice would you give to someone looking to help animals?
Every little bit counts. Whether it's adopting from shelters instead of buying from a pet shop, donating a few dollars to a local charity, or even volunteering for a few hours -- every single little effort helps. Plus, it's extremely rewarding. I've had kittens vomit, poop and otherwise make a mess all over me. After washing and worrying, it's absolutely worth it to see them happy and bouncing around. Also reach out to local shelters to see if they need help with services or funds. Some clinics are short on cash while others are short on staff.
Written by Louise Milazzo