Meet the Maker: Brandy Unrein of Buster’s Party Shop and Little Blue Olive
Meet the Maker is a new blog series on The Dapple featuring Q&As with small businesses, creatives, and makers who are crafting unique products for dogs and dog lovers. Know someone we should include? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am beyond excited about today’s Meet the Maker feature. We’re talking to one of our all-time favorite small business owners: Brandy Unrein of Buster’s Party Shop. Believe it or not, Buster’s Party Shop was the first brand we ever worked with on Instagram—back in December 2016 when Dave was still a tiny puppy!
Not only is Brandy one of the nicest people we’ve ever worked with, she’s also the founder of not one but two hugely successful Etsy shops. If you have dogs, you’re probably already familiar with Brandy’s darling puppy party hats from Buster’s Party Shop. And if you have kids, chances are they’ve celebrated a birthday in a crown from her other boutique, Little Blue Olive. We chatted with Brandy about running one of the most popular stores on Etsy, her journey as an entrepreneur, and drawing inspiration from Dr. Seuss.
Tell us about your pets.
Our one spoiled pet is Otto, a dappled mini dachshund, who is two. I grew up with dachshunds, so I have such a soft spot for the breed!
We’re always so amazed that you’ve founded two small businesses. Describe Little Blue Olive and Buster’s Party Shop for our readers.
Little Blue Olive sells high-end handmade crowns, party hats and holiday accessories. We are in the top 1% of sellers on Etsy, and have almost 40,000 sales. That still blows my mind!
Buster’s is a special place for all of your fur babies and furiends, selling the same quality items, catered to all size dogs and animals. It is SO fun to make items for these special animals, and get to be a part of their celebrations! We carry crowns, party hats, top hats, unicorn horns, bunny ears, sequin bow ties and SO much more. I get so much joy in creating new items and seeing them on the cutest little pups and kitties!
You guys were the first to start selling gorgeous handmade crowns and tiny party hats for children and pets—how did you originally come up with the concept?
I have always been creative and crafty. I started a business selling handmade baby items when I was pregnant with my daughter, Olive. After her second birthday, I had the idea to make a small 3D felt crown on a headband. I searched online, and there was nothing like what I had created. I shifted my business to crowns, and it snowballed from there! Apparently the need was there, and I filled it! It evolved into party hats and holiday accessories.
How do you feel that your unique background prepared you to run your own business?
I have always loved anything to do with creating, and am a very visual person. I have a Liberal Arts degree in English and Art, as well as a Sign Language Interpreting degree. I changed my major and career path several times, and I think that really helped me be able to adapt along with my business. I am comfortable with change and things not going as planned, which is key when being your own boss!
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of owning a small business?
The most challenging thing is that owning a business is truly a 24/7 job! There really are no weekends or days off. That is especially true for a workaholic like myself!
The rewards are seriously so abundant, and so incredibly worth it. I have to say the most rewarding thing has been the friendships I have made, and the accounts I follow that bring a little extra joy and laughter to my day. Dave and Heather were our first true Instagram friends, and it’s so fun seeing Dave and Lizzie showcasing their personalities wearing our accessories!
What would you tell other entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business?
The first piece of advice I would give is to find something you are really passionate about, and something that is unique to you. If you have an idea for a product or service, no matter how crazy, go for it! I love the Dr. Seuss quote, “See a need, fill a need.” So, dream up some awesome new idea that you think people will love, and just go for it! Also, market yourself as genuinely as you can, and team up with like-minded people and you can’t go wrong!
What are some of your favorite items that you sell?
Holidays are my favorite time of year! I love when the shop is full of Christmas and New Years Eve items, and they are the BEST items to make, and the most fun to see your animals wearing! One of my favorites is the peppermint hat and bow set! Peppermints are such a classic holiday icon, and they look good enough to eat!
Any exciting upcoming plans for Buster’s Party Shop?
I really try to focus one season ahead as far as design and new ideas. I LOVE designing for holidays, and that is where I feel like the business really shines. I love to come up with unique ideas that you don’t see elsewhere, hence a fuzzy Christmas tree hat! Little Blue Olive grew very big, very fast, and I am enjoying the slower pace of Buster’s, and really focusing on my designs and customers!