Kent teenager is putting cats in hats
Published 12:00 am, Thursday, August 4, 2016
KENT — Does your dog need a bow tie? Perhaps your cat needs a hat?
If so, 15-year-old Maddy Stevens has you covered.
Stevens, and her eight-month-old company Miss Maddy Makes, slings cat costumes, catnip-filled toys, dog bow ties and rain hats, among other things, on Etsy — an online retailor for vintage and handmade items. This weekend she’ll sell her goods at the Kent Sidewalk Festival, where she’ll sit outside the House of Books.
Stevens, whose room is a “cat gymnasium,” has long loved furry felines, said Brooke Stevens, her father. When that feline infatuation turned into a business model, he was both surprised and proud, he added.
In January, Stevens converted the space under her bunk bed into a one-girl factory, and she’s been pumping out felt hand- and machine-sewn pet goodies since. On Etsy, where she averages an order a day, she’s developed a global following that she has to keep up with out of her Kent home.
“I just sew whenever I feel like it,” Stevens said. “Which is pretty much all of the time.”
Kent Sidewalk Festival:
Main Street and Route 341, Kent, Conn.
Aug. 4 through Aug 7
Miss Maddy Makes
After sewing is complete, the real work begins, Stevens said. She then has to ship pet costumes around the world; a Spider-man cat hat to Germany, a Harry Potter cat hat to Australia; a Union soldier guinea pig hat to Scotland.
This weekend, with nothing to ship, will be easy, she said.
Before she launched her business, Stevens started sewing the toys and hats for her own pets in 2012. Now those pets are part of the business. They’re models, she said. And they’re well paid.
Carl the guinea pig, cats Steve and Tiki, and dogs Milo and Higgley are “paid in treats,” she said.
And they’re not the only ones getting paid.
Stevens, who has saved most of her profit so far, gives 20 to 30 percent of her profits to animal-centric charities.
But before she’ll donate, she does some research, she said.
“I like to find the ones that don’t get enough attention,” she said, adding that her favorite gift was to a small Indonesian cat sanctuary.
With the leftover profit, Stevens wants to grow her business, she said.
“When I’m older, I just want to try to expand it, so I can make a living off of it if that's possible,” she said.
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