ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three fluffy tails inspired 17-year-old Vivian Lamb to turn a hobby into a business.
The home-schooled Albuquerque entrepreneur began making bandanas for her two cats Luna (a Siamese), Brownie (a Maine coon) and her dog Snickers (a mystery mutt) in 2016.
Encouraged by friends and family members, she begin selling the colorful critter clothing. She opened her own Etsy shop in early 2017, naming it ThreeFluffyTails.
Sales have doubled every year since then; last year’s sales rocketed 180%, with the help of the Internet.
“I remember sending the link to 10 friends and family members,” Lamb said. “They sent it to their friends and family members.”
It all started with about $100 worth of fabric.
Today Lamb boasts a pop culture series based on the shows “Friends,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” “Hamilton,” “Star Wars” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” She also creates personalized wear starring the animal’s name. Other pieces blare quirky sayings such as “Mr. Steal Your Girl” and “My Humans Are Getting Married.” For New Mexicans, she added a Zia symbol and logos inspired by the University New Mexico and New Mexico State University.
“Ew David,” Lamb’s “Schitt’s Creek” bandana, is her top seller.
This year she added bow ties to her repertoire. They attach to a collar with Velcro or circle the neck with elastic.
Lamb says she has always been creative. The family moved to Albuquerque from California when she was 10 years old.
“I’ve been sewing from a very young age,” she said. “My Mom taught me how to hand sew at age 6. I got my first machine at age 9.”
She either creates her own designs or buys fonts from sellers inspired by Disney and other copyrights, thus avoiding infringement.
Her mother, Rachel Singer, says her daughter always loved animals, stitching a jacket for her cat when she was 9.
“She’s always had a great deal of initiative and a very strong desire to pursue whatever she was into, whether it was Legos or joining a birding group,” Singer said. “I’m not a machine sewer, but she’s taken it to a whole level.
“Now she’s been taking an accounting class online.”
Lamb recently opened an office to house her heat press and vinyl cutter to print her designs on fabric. She does all the sewing at home.
“My parents help me out sometimes when I’m really swamped,” she said.
Christmas “was totally crazy,” she added. “I was shipping out almost 100 orders a week in November and December.”
She has shipped her products to every state, as well as Canada, Australia, Ireland, Great Britain, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, Japan and Mexico. She doesn’t even have to worry about exchange rates.
“Etsy automatically converts it when buyers browse,” she said.
Customers often send her photographs of their pets proudly wearing her products, or they pop up in Etsy reviews.
Lamb hopes to expand to a bigger space and hire at least one employee. She wants to include more Disney-inspired designs such as “The Lion King.” She has no college plans, although she concedes she might take some community college classes.
“It’s like a dream job for me,” she said. “I get to be creative and I get to see all these adorable pets wearing it.”
The name is an ode to her own furry friends, she added.
“They kind of inspired the whole thing.”