Meet the Maker: Stephanie Virkh of Canine Compassion Bandanas
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 email@example.com.
Today on Meet the Maker, we're chatting with Stephanie Virkh, the owner of Canine Compassion Bandanas. We always love finding dog products that give back, so we were thrilled to chat with Stephanie about how her affordable (and cute!) designs for dogs benefit the ASPCA.
Tell us about your pets.
I have two pitbull mixes. Duke is eight, and Comrade is two. They're both 80 pounds and are giant love bugs.
Tell us what you make.
We ethically produce affordable dog bandanas that give back by supporting the ASPCA.
What led you to create Canine Compassion Bandanas?
I was frustrated with high prices of dog accessories, particularly for large dogs, but at the same time I didn't want to purchase goods that were made in unethical labor conditions. I love to sew and had already been sewing bandanas for my dogs, and I saw this business as a way to let other dog owners spoil their pups with high-quality bandanas without breaking the bank. All while helping animals in need.
What makes your bandanas unique?
All of our dog bandanas are handmade in the USA, and they're just $5 or less. Plus they support the ASPCA! Every order is packed with love, each dog even gets their own name label on the envelope. We also have a fun sticker program where each month we feature a dog from our Instagram and have them transformed into a pop-art sticker. Every order gets the current month's sticker included in their shipment. You can learn more about our sticker program here.
We love that you donate $1 from each bandana purchased to the ASPCA—what inspired that decision?
Giving back was built into our company from day one. Both of my dogs were adopted from our local shelter, and I'm so thankful for the work that animal rescues do! Rescue dogs are incredible creatures and I wanted to find a way to help them on their journeys to forever homes.
We chose the ASPCA for their recognition across the country, and because they are very transparent with their finances. Transparency is really important to us, which is why we make our donation records available to the public every month.
What's the most challenging part of running a small business?
I'd say the hardest part about running a small business is that you're never really "off." It's always on my mind 24/7, but I'm working on setting boundaries so that business doesn't encroach on my personal time. It's tough finding a balance!
What's your favorite place to work?
I love working from home with my dogs! They're the best coworkers and product testers that I could ask for!
What's your favorite item for sale in your shop right now?
I'm a bit of a space nut so my favorite pattern hands down is Glitter Galaxy. It's so pretty, I love the depth of the design and it has subtle glitter on it that catches the light just right. It's almost sold out at the moment, but we will definitely be restocking this pattern in the future.
Any exciting upcoming plans for Canine Compassion Bandanas?
We've had a lot of growth in the last few months and are so excited to continue expanding our collection! We're constantly adding new patterns, there's always something for everyone! Customers can follow us on Instagram to stay updated, plus we post sneak peeks of upcoming fabrics on our stories.
What's the most rewarding part of your work?
I LOVE seeing dogs on Instagram wearing our bandanas! It's such a great feeling to know other people are enjoying what I've created. Once I was walking in Milwaukee and I saw a dog wearing one of our bandanas! I was able to stop and introduce myself to the owner and meet their dog. That was the first time I saw one of my bandanas "in the wild" and it was the best feeling, I'll never forget that. 🐾