Bath designer finds success in pet fashion

A cute, and warm, puppy models a dog coat. | Photo courtesy of Bee by the Sea, Ltd.

Admit it, you love your pets. Their big eyes, wet noses, and wagging tails can always brighten your day. Brady-Anne Cushing, a designer from Bath, knows about this pet love– and about making your pet look fashionable. Cushing specializes in pet couture. Whether it’s custom pet collars or chic coats to keep your puppy or kitty warm, she has got you covered.

In a quick interview, Cushing shared her story, from how she got started designing for furry friends to the challenges that come with having a non-human inspiration. Take a look:

Bangor Daily News: How long have you been designing?

Brady-Anne Cushing: I started designing, creating, and sewing when I was quite young.  Both my grandmother and my mother were very active in textile arts; my grandmother was a seamstress and my mother a weaver. Some of my most vivid memories from my childhood are of countless hours building doll houses from scratch, decorating the interiors, creating the dolls to live inside them, and sewing their clothes.

BDN: Did you have any formal design training? 

BC: In college I formally studied interior design and have spent the past 15 years designing residential interiors, the last 9 of which I have primarily focused on tile layout design.

BDN: How did you get started making pet couture? 

A houndstooth dog coat. | Photo courtesy of Bee by the Sea, Ltd.

BC: I never imagined that I would end up designing for dogs. Two and a half years ago we adopted a Brussels Griffon/Beagle mix.  This sweet tiny little dog was ill prepared for the cold and snow and would go outside for a walk and immediately start shivering.  We needed find a suitable coat to keep her warm enough that she could still enjoy being outdoors in the winter.  After searching for a coat for her we were quite dismayed at the lack of interesting selection, style, and most of all quality we found in most pet stores.  I started looking at the construction of the items and found myself thinking, “I could make something better that”.

But it finally came down to a Halloween costume–yes I know, I am now the crazy lady that dressed up her dog for Halloween.  I was standing in line checking out at the pet store one day and a display of doggie costumes caught my eye.  I was suddenly inspired and went right home and created a red velvet ladybug costume for our puppy.  It came out beautifully and as I finished the construction of it I realized that I had essentially just made a dog coat.  From there I dove into creating and fine-tuning the pattern for our first coat style.

BDN: What are some challenges you’ve had with the dog attire? 

BC: The biggest challenge is creating the custom sized coats.  I have requests from all over the country and sometimes even other countries such as Canada, Australia, and even the Czech Republic.  Getting the sizing just right for a dog I have never met is a daunting task.  However, I have dog mannequins to help with the patterning and have also been known to borrow friends and neighbors dogs for an occasional fitting.

BDN: Where do you get your inspiration for these doggy designs?

BC: I guess human fashions play a big roll in my inspiration.  Why should we have so many stylish options for our clothing and not our dogs?  Function doesn’t have to be just function, it can look good too.

BDN: Do you make custom designs?

Pet Collar | Photo Courtesy of Bee by the Sea, Ltd.

BC: Of course. I make custom coats, collars, and leashes all the time.  If someone has a specific size, color, or type of fabric that they want I am always happy to accommodate if I can.

BDN: What materials do you use on the dog clothes? 

BC: I use all sorts of materials.  However, mostly they are heavier upholstery grade fabrics as I find that they are sturdier and hold up better for the use of the products.  I try to utilize repurposed and salvaged materials as much as possible to keep our products green.

 BDN: Do you only make clothing for small dogs?

BC: No, I absolutely make coats, collars, and leashes for all sizes of dogs and even the occasional cat.  The largest dog I have made a coat for was a Mastiff mix that was 80 lbs.  The strangest custom coat I have made was for a hairless cat. I’ll tell you that my cat was not too happy about being the model for the pattern for that one!

BDN: How long has your business Bee By The Sea Ltd. been around?

Pet bed by Bee by the Sea, Ltd. | Photo courtesy of Bee by the Sea, Ltd.

BC: Bee by the Sea, Ltd. has officially been around since the fall of 2010.  However, the business started long before.  Years and years ago I began making blankets and tote bags as gifts on special occasions for our friends and family.  Over time people started calling to ask if I could make the blankets and bags for them to purchase as gifts of their own.  Word spread and then spread some more and it got to the point that one day I realized that I had a business.

Along with doggy coats and collars Cushing also makes blankets, pet beds, and tote bags. You can check out her merchandise on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeebytheSea),  on her website (www.beebythesealtd.com)  or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beebythesealtd).