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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 that 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. More Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a dog lover that found success when COVID-19 made things, shall we say, rough.

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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 sowing 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, and a month.

LAUREN VICTORY: Our little spot. 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 dog clothes sold out almost immediately.

CYNTHIA SOTO: I was like, oh my god, this could be something that can be like big. This can grow. This is actually a thing. 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. She definitely makes it a point to support people in need within Mexico, also.

CYNTHIA SOTO: So I like it to be like full circle.

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

CYNTHIA SOTO: 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.