1066
8 min 6 sec

Electrical Engineer Rides Demand to Dog Collar Empire

A short-term holdover project between jobs becomes a seven-figure empire, all built on dog collars.
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What It's About

Nothing holds back the kingdom of dog collars.​

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Sewing & Marketing
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Some of the best side hustle ideas happen when there's a collision of a pain point/or something missing that meets your skillset and experience. In this story, Alisha was looking for a dog collar, came up short, and decided to make her own.

Fun Fact

Alisha and her husband financed their honeymoon by making and selling their own candles (pre-dog collar side hustle!).

Notes from Chris

Episode 1066
You might think that graduating with a master’s in physics would set you up for life. Engineers are in demand everywhere, and rarely spend much time looking for work. But for Alisha Navarro in Indian Trail, North Carolina, job security wasn't good enough. She was working as an electronics engineer, and she didn’t love it. She wanted to do something she was more enthusiastic about, but she wasn’t sure what that was.

Meanwhile, back at home, Alisha had a different problem. Well, two problems really—her two greyhounds. Because a greyhound's head is smaller than its neck, typical buckle collars tend to slip off. So she needed martingale collars … which are specifically designed to be non-slip. She wanted something that hit the perfect combination of beautiful, humane, and safe—but she wasn’t happy with anything she found.

Alisha was crafty. She’d been making Christmas ornaments and candles since she was a kid, and she knew her way around a sewing machine. So it didn't take long before her greyhounds had beautiful, functional collars she (and they!) could be proud of.

The collars made an impression. Soon, she was running into other dog owners who wanted to know where they could get her handmade collars. Alisha saw the opportunity and jumped on it. She started by making collars for friends and acquaintances, buying just enough fabric to sew each collar.

But it didn’t take long for the demand to outpace her one-by-one production plan. So, she invested $500 to buy a bulk set of fabric and materials, and set up a store on eBay. Whenever she sold a collar, she'd use the money to buy more fabric. She'd make more collars, sell them, and repeat the process.

Although she was enjoying it, things were still a little ruff at her engineer job. She couldn’t help but wonder if she could make some real money off her collar designs. Alisha decided to ramp up efforts, ditching eBay and making her own website under the name 2 Hounds Design.

She was already involved with her local community—including animal rescue—so she leveraged those connections to create awareness for her product. She also made sure to optimize her website for organic searches and post on Facebook whenever she designed a new dog collar.

The side hustle grew enough that Alisha decided to quit her job. You could say it had her on a short leash … it was a dog eat dog world at the office. Her initial plan was to look for another job while using the income from 2 Hounds Design to support her in the interim.

In 2019, 2 Hounds Design has grown far beyond the small side hustle that was there to hold Alisha over until she found her next engineering job. They sell their collars both direct on their website and at independent pet retailers worldwide. The company is now housed in a custom-built 20,000 square-foot building, employs fifty-two people, and averages over four million dollars in sales each year.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • 2 Hounds Design: Learn more and get your own collar for your best friend at Alisha's website.

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Keep doing what you are doing for as long as you love it. I've always said that the day I wake up and hate my ‘job,’ I will sell the company."
—Alisha Navarro #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau