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

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It seems businesses are closing left and right, but CBS 2 calculated more than 250 new clothing and shoe shops sprouted after the virus spread. Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a dog lover who found success when COVID-19 made things "ruff."

Video Transcript

- Meantime, we're now almost a year into the pandemic. Lock downs and restrictions have certainly taken a toll on businesses. But CBS 2 calculated more than 250 new clothing and shoe stores popped up after the virus spread. CBS News Lauren Victory found a dog lover who unleashed a business idea and found success.

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

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 started outside of my house and there's a fence. So I would hang stuff on my fence.

LAUREN VICTORY: The doggy clothes sold out almost immediately.

CYNTHIA SOTO: And I was like, oh my God. This could be something that can 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 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 the 1900 block of West 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, Laura Victory, "CBS 2 News."

- They look adorable. Well, 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.