Isabelle Casselman & Tundra
Awhile back we were introduced to Isabelle, a 12-year-old entrepreneur who, because of Covid-19, developed a hobby into a business. Like many of us, during 2020, she undertook new projects and learned new things to fill the time once her school was closed. She decided to sew and an offshoot of that was her successful Etsy shop where she now sells handmade bandanas for dogs. Read about how her new skills evolved into EH! Pet Wear.
Isabelle's story was also featured in INSPIRE: The Women's Portrait Project
Q ) Did you sew before you began making pet bandanas? Who taught you to sew? What kind of machine do you use?
A) When the COVID 19 pandemic hit I was in grade 5 and 11 years old. Everything was closed including school, hockey and rock climbing. I play rep hockey and am used to being very busy but I found myself bored without much to do. I decided to learn to sew and my Gran taught me how to do it through Zoom. I used what she taught me on scrap pieces of material to start and then decided I wanted to make something real from it. I have a Singer heavy duty sewing machine.
Q) Why did you choose pet bandanas as your project?
A) We got a puppy earlier this year and I wanted to create something for him (his name is Tundra) with the materials I had. So I hand sewed a bandana and started creating more from there!
Q) What kind of fabrics are the bandanas made from? Are they washable?
A) I use 100% cotton for all bandanas and they are machine washable on delicate.
Q) Where do you shop for your supplies?
A) This is a good question because when I started sewing everything was shut down so it was hard to find material. A local fabric shop called “The Quilter’s Bolt” quickly moved to online sales and was recommended to me by a friend. I found beautiful material there and got started sewing with their material. I also buy from Fabricland and I get my velcro, thread and needles from Michael’s. For my cutting supplies I use the OLFA products. I have been using Vistaprint for my business cards, thank you cards, stickers and a “the dog has mail” stamp.
Q) Do you have others helping you sew and package or do you do all of the work yourself?
A) I do it all myself! I sew and package everything myself. There have been times where I feel like I can't get all of the orders done but now I've found if I just make a list and sort through which ones I need to get done first and that really helps me get them done myself. I do need my parents to drive me to get stamps or to ship at a postal office though!
Q) Do you have a dedicated sewing space in your home? How do you keep yourself organized and your supplies stored?
A) Yes! In my basement I have an area with a desk and lots of storage for my fabric (which I keep organized by wrapping it around pieces of cardboard I cut out!) I also have a separate drawer for all my packaging supplies. I have all of these things for organization but my crafting area is usually quite messy though as I often leave fabric out!
Q) Your business started because Covid shut everything down. How will you find time to manage your Etsy shop once it resumes?
A) This Fall school started again and as a student and a rep hockey player both of those resumed in the fall and I was able to manage my shop quite well. I make lists to remember each order and when I get home from school I try to get at least one order done before I go to hockey practice.
Q) What was the hardest part of setting up an Etsy store and your business? The easiest part?
A) The hardest part was probably coming up with a product that I was proud of. I went through so many prototypes and now still make changes to improve my bandana and the process of making it. And I would say there was no “easy part” everything had its challenges.
Q) Now that you've mastered making bandanas, what will you attempt to sew next?
A) For Christmas I made my Gran and my Grandma scarves and I think I’ll make more. For my birthday I got a sewing pattern along with some fabric to make a bed and a harness for my dog so I am going to try that too.
Q) What else are you doing that's fun?
A) I play competitive hockey and I also rock climb, wakeboard, and ski (water and snow).
Q) Fill in the blank: The current book on my nightstand is _______.
A) A book called “The Cousins” by one of my favourite authors Karen M Mcmanus its of course, A Mystery book!, which is my favourite to read.
Q) When you're creating, do you listen to music or watch TV or enjoy special snacks?
A) I always enjoy listening to podcasts.
Q) Will cats actually wear a bandana? (They are so independent!)
A) That is true! It depends on the cat, but all of the cats I have made bandanas for seem to not really mind wearing bandanas. Cats look really cute in the bandanas!