CuddleMutt founder wants to bring comfort to shelters

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Kristen Farris of Rosemount wanted to make it easier for the dogs she fostered to transition into a new home, a hope that inspired her to launch CuddleMutt.

Fostering for the Eden Prairie-based rescue Secondhand Hounds, she encountered a lot of pets waiting for their forever homes.

"I always felt like I wanted to send them with something, like a blanket, to help with a transition," Farris said.

She started brainstorming ideas about two years ago, and finally found a manufacturer for a help her create blankets to send with adoptees. The next question was where to go from there.

"I had about 2,000 blankets sitting in my basement, and I said 'OK, what's next here,'" Farris said.

She eventually decided to develop collars to sell alongside her blankets, and started looking for a manufacturer to make the vegan faux-leather product. When she found one in Maplewood, her next big challenge began.

"The hardest part was trying to figure out ... how it should be made," Farris said. "I'm not a big sew-er, so I had the vision in my head, and I had to get it onto paper."

For both the blanket and the collars, she worked with the manufacturers to get that vision out, and eventually made. Farris finally launched under the name CuddleMutt, with one simple mission: to give one blanket to a shelter pet with every sale made.

"The big goal would be to be able to provide blankets to shelters nationwide and be able to comfort dogs waiting to be adopted," Farris said.

Since the launch Sept. 12, CuddleMutt has made enough sales to ship out her first donation of blankets.

"Now that CuddleMutt has started, we actually just did our first donation through Secondhand Hounds ... to (pets affected by) Hurricane Harvey," Farris said.

Farris hopes that those blankets — brown on one side and blue synthetic lamb's wool on the other — will bring some much-needed color into the sheltered animals lives, since blue is one of the few colors on dogs' vision spectrum. There's also the ulterior motive of helping dogs get adopted more easily, Farris said.

"(Blue) attracts adopters," she said. "Research has shown that bright colors attract adopters ... It makes it easier to picture them in their homes."

Over the years Farris herself has fostered upwards of 30 shelter animals, including two litters of kittens. For now though, she said CuddleMutt will concentrate only on that: the mutts.

"I'm focusing in on dog market, but that's not to say we won't," she said.

Her preferred direction for expansion is leashes, and maybe a bandana or two, Farris said.

For now she's continuing to grow her newborn company, and linking in with the "dog influencers" on Instagram and other social media.

To learn more, go to www.cuddlemutt.com.