LEWISTON — Bento was a puppy when he donned his first handmade bandanna.

Allyson Beaule’s Shiba Inu, Bento, wears one of her “Kitsune Creations” bandannas. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Allyson Beaule had started sewing hats and stuffed animals in college and was doing fairly well selling them online through Etsy and in person at conventions. But she was feeling a little burned out. She wanted to make something different. And Bento, her baby Shiba Inu, was right there, the perfect bandanna model.

“I was just kind of like, ‘I want to try that. I want to see how that would go.’ It was something I knew that would involved fabric, sewing, and I had a bunch of stuff already,” said Beaule, 30. “I thought, ‘Why not?'”

A little over a year later, Beaule’s handmade pet bandannas — marketed under her business Kitsune Creations — proved so popular that she had to temporarily close her Etsy shop to new business the last two weeks of December. Customers clamored to order more than the one-woman shop could handle.

“People were buying stuff (and saying), ‘Hey, could you ship that out tomorrow?'” she said. “I couldn’t work fast enough. There were not enough hours in the day.”

Beaule’s bandannas come in different sizes and two designs: fun prints that tie and plaid flannels that snap. Each features a faux leather or faux suede Kitsune Creations tag riveted or sewn to the fabric.

The flannel bandannas, with their artfully frayed edges, are Beaule’s most popular.

Allyson Beaule sells a lot of her pet bandannas on Etsy. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“A lot of people buy more than one . . . they buy two or three or four,” she said.

It helps that Beaule has her own in-house model who happily works for free. Bento shows off Kitsune Creations bandannas on the shop’s Etsy, Instagram and Facebook pages and in person at craft fairs. His personal Instagram page — which has more than 3,000 followers — also features photos of bandanna-clad Bento napping, playing in the snow and posing like a professional canine model.

“I have a really cute model, so he keeps me motivated to try something out on him,” Beaule said.

Beaule, who works full time in graphic design and marketing for National Distributors in South Portland, creates her bandanas in a spare room of her Lewiston apartment after work and on days off. On weekends, she sells them at conventions, craft fairs and farmers’ markets for $10 to $30 each.

Bandanna sales really took off in August. That’s when she added hand-frayed designs to the collection and her Etsy shop “went crazy.” That’s also around the time she brought her bandannas to a Wallingford’s craft fair and caught the attention of Wallingford’s Fruit House owner Peter Ricker, who bought a bunch of her inventory.

“That was a really big thing to do,” she said. “And then he ordered more stuff from me around the holidays.”

She estimates that she’s sold around 1,000 bandannas in the past year. While most have gone to dogs, a few cats have also sported them.

Of the 124 reviews left on Beaule’s Etsy shop, 112 are from this past year and almost all of those are from bandanna customers. Beaule’s favorite thing about the reviews? The photos people share of their adorable pets wearing her creations.

“I get to see, ‘Oh, I made this and now this cute dog is wearing it.’ Or cat,” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”

Beaule has no immediate plans to make Kitsune Creations her full-time job, though her ultimate dream is to support herself  as a graphic design freelancer and through sales of her various creations.

For now, her creative attention is focused on the bandannas.

“I want them to be something my dog would wear,” she said.

Animal Tales is a recurring Sun Journal feature about animals and their people. Have an idea for Animal Tales? Call Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or email her at [email protected].

Allyson Beaule’s Shiba Inu, Bento, wears one of her “Kitsune Creations” bandannas. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo


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