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Pandemic Layoff Proves To Be Blessing In Disguise For Pilsen Pet Fashion Designer

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Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a dog lover who found success when COVID-19 made things "ruff."

Video Transcript

- Behind the scenes, behind the lines, inside the stories others won't tell, the Morning Insiders.

- Almost a year into the pandemic, and the domino effect of quarantine continues. It seems businesses are closing left and right. But CBS 2 calculated more than 250 new clothing and shoe shops sprouting after the virus spread.

- An opportunity for some. Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a dog lover that found success when COVID-19 made things, shall we say, "ruff."

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LAUREN VICTORY: These sly dogs are more than TikTok entertainers.

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They're customers of Pilsen's pet fashion designer, Cynthia Soto.

CYNTHIA SOTO: I definitely wanted to do a business that I could incorporate my love for animals, and that I can spend time with my dog.

LAUREN VICTORY: Her three little babies often double as her beta testers. Soto started "sewing" the seeds of her company when the pandemic hit.

CYNTHIA SOTO: We were quarantined, and I was scared. I'm like, I don't know if I'll have a job tomorrow, in a week, in a month.

Our little spot.

LAUREN VICTORY: Her backup plan suddenly turned into a full time gig after she was laid off from her early child education job in June. Her worst fear, a blessing in disguise.

CYNTHIA SOTO: I kind of, like, started outside of my house. And there's a fence so I would hang stuff on my fence.

LAUREN VICTORY: The doggie clothes sold out almost immediately.

- I was like, oh my god, this could be something that could be, like, big. This can grow. This is actually a thing.

LAUREN VICTORY: Because these handcrafted creations are more than a way to keep furry friends fashionable. Many are walking displays of Mexican culture.

CYNTHIA SOTO: The textile is called Cambaya. Cambaya is dyed naturally, and it's threaded by hand.

LAUREN VICTORY: The material is sourced straight from Mexico by Soto's best friend and business partner.

CYNTHIA SOTO: She definitely makes it a point to support people in need within Mexico also. So it's, like-- I like it to be, like, full circle.

LAUREN VICTORY: Which brings us to the name of this Chicago venture, Pocha Shop.

- Mexicans call other Mexicans "pochos" or "pochas" because they're not Mexican enough.

LAUREN VICTORY: But this Mexican-American is proud of Pocha Shop, which will soon be written in big letters at this storefront on 19th and Cermak.

CYNTHIA SOTO: I wanted to take that word and kind of reclaim it.

LAUREN VICTORY: Blending two cultures while educating others, one outfit at a time. In Pilsen, Lauren Victory, CBS 2 News.

- Pocha Shop is an online only store right now, and offers curbside pickup or delivery within 10 miles of Pilsen. The physical store will open early next month with Mexican inspired accessories for dogs, cats, and humans. For more stories like this, download the CBS Chicago app and look for the Morning Insiders section.