Hi everyone! Today, I wanted to take a break from sharing dog fashion with you to instead share with you a little more personal information. Mainly, my story of how Pinstripe Paw Prints came to be. My name is Hannah. And my life pretty much revolves entirely around dogs.
I am a veterinary technician. I am a proud dog mom of four dogs. I (clearly) make dog clothes. I teach dog training classes at a local kennel club. I volunteer with Pierre and Freya and do therapy dog work. I clearly may have a problem.
Pierre and I, shortly after we adopted him
You can probably blame a lot of this obsession on this handsome devil right here. Pierre. My first dog. The one who started it all.
I adopted Pierre three years ago from a small dog rescue in New York. I was a young vet tech who lived at home with my parents and had no dogs of her own. My cat, whom I was very much in love with, had recently passed away and I found myself craving the warm affection of my very own dog. A papillon, to be exact. I’m not quite sure why I became so obsessed with them, but I have. I just accept it. I asked my parents if I could adopt my own dog, which I was met with a resounding no. My boyfriend at the time (who now is thankfully my husband!) had a different plan.
“If you move in with me, I’ll let you get a dog.”
He didn’t have to tell me twice.
It didn’t take me long to find Pierre on Petfinder. We applied, went through the application process, and finally were approved to pick up Pierre. We had never met him before, but I already knew I loved him.
Shortly after we adopted Pierre, we acquired Claire from a family in Harrisburg. Our first winter with our dogs was cold. We lived on Mt. Washington were the wind would whip down the road and freeze your face and the steps to our crummy apartment were always covered in ice. My poor little papillons were cold! Being the devoted dog mom that I am, I rushed to the store and picked them up an assortment of sweaters, shirts and coats.
Clothes didn’t seem to fit them exactly right, or they rubbed them the wrong way. The material felt cheap. The coats fell apart or got holes in them way too quickly. And to be honest, I just couldn’t afford it. I was young, very much so in debt, and just starting my adult life.
I decided to stop buying dog clothes and instead decided to start experimenting with making my own. I had learned to sew a couple years ago, and with Pierre and Claire in my home, I had my own personal dress forms. My first jackets were very basic, but served their purpose. I kept making jackets for them and swapping them out so they would always look fashionable. My coworkers noticed how classy my dogs always looked, and were amazed when I told them that I actually made their clothes myself. People started asking if I would make their dogs clothes, custom from the measurements they gave me. It turns out, I was not the only one struggling to find cute dog clothes that fit well and didn’t break the bank.
Somewhere along the line, I decided I was going to sell some of my extra jackets at a craft show. The response I got at the show wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was enough that I decided I wanted to go ‘pro’. Pro as in, I wanted to make an Etsy store and sell to more people than just my friends.
I chose the name Pinstripe Paw Prints because I wanted my clothes to look classy and almost human like, not hoaky like some of the dog clothes you find in pet stores. And I wanted a name that emulated that idea. And what’s more classy than a pinstripe suit?
As time went on and I acquired more dogs and more skills, I started to narrow in on the items that I really wanted to perfect. I played around with the idea of making toys, accessories, boots, and collars, but eventually decided they weren’t for me and stuck with actual dog clothing. I taught my dogs how to model so they could help me promote my clothes. I tell them all the time their only job in life is to entertain me and help me model my Pinstripe Paw Prints stuff.
Me and the girls in our matching dresses
I’m not making millions selling handmade dog clothes. I don’t drive a BMW or a Lexus because I have an Etsy store. I still work a full time job and balance my budget carefully. Sometimes it gets really slow and I go a long time without selling anything. But, selling Pinstripe Paw Prints clothes has helped me pay for Pierre’s knee repair. It helped me pay for Claire’s dental. And it helps me pay off my massive amount of student loans that cripple me financially a little faster than I was before. Its a creative outlet. Its something fun that I can do, that a lot of my peers can’t do. And I’m always so proud of the things I create.
As I write this, Pierre is napping on the back of my couch. He really wants me to wrap this up and take him upstairs so he can go to bed. But he won’t go without me. Its amazing to think of how one little dog, a little dog who was not wanted by his first family, was the catalyst that started so much. How one little dog who didn’t like to shiver in the snow inspired so many different outfits and ideas.
So I guess that’s how it all started. With Pierre. Maybe I should have named it Pierre’s Paw Prints!