(Becky Talerico | Photos Courtesy of Ruff Hippie Bandanas)
Becky Talerico combined inspiration, determination, attention to detail and her love of animals to create Ruff Hippie Bandanas in Sisters.
Laughing, Talerico shared she never imagined creating dog bandanas would have grown into a successful business. “I was just looking for a way to earn some extra money while staying home to care for my children,” she said.
In 2018, she and her family moved to Sisters from Washington. Her husband, Josh, owns Talerico Excavating. Their children are Ryder, 13; Jaxon, 11; Georgia, 8; and Charlotte, 3. Their dogs are Ranger, a chocolate lab; Henry, a Great Pyrenees; and Sophia, a Labradoodle.
“I started noticing everywhere we went that the dogs in Central Oregon were wearing bandanas,” she said. “I thought that’s something simple I could do.” She purchased a sewing machine, taught herself to sew and started making bandanas. She gave her bandanas to friends and family members, seeking their feedback on what she could do better.
From her visits with her dogs and family to Central Oregon’s lakes and rivers, she noticed it was challenging for dog owners to remove wet bandanas. Her concern about the dog’s safety inspired her to create bandanas with a plastic snap, making it easy to remove.
After months of experimenting on her design until it met her high standards, she started selling Ruff Hippie bandanas on Etsy. “I was completely surprised seeing how popular the bandanas were and that my sales were skyrocketing on Etsy,” she said. “My success on Etsy made me wonder what else I could do.”
She contacted the Mud Bay pet stores in Bend about selling Ruff Hippie bandanas. “I thought maybe they would carry the bandanas in their two stores in Bend,” Talerico said. “I was shocked when they asked to carry them in all their 65 locations.”
Her contract with Mud Bay led to her hiring five employees and opening Ruff Hippie Pet Store in Sisters, where she sells her bandanas and other purchased products, including leashes, collars, dog sweaters and dog treats. Her goal is to purchase local products to sell at Ruff Hippie. The shop is also where the bandanas are made. “I find so much joy in selecting the fabric, including deciding on our seasonal bandanas,” she said. “I recently added dog bows to what I make.”
According to the American Pet Products Association, the average American pet owner will spend $1,480 a year on their dog and $902 on their cat. Ruff Hippie bandanas cost between $10 to $24. “I love working at the shop and it’s truly my happy place,” she said. “It’s fun to meet my customers’ dogs and watch them try on the different bandanas or find something for their pet. Ruff Hippie is a place where you will see lots of smiles because of the dogs.”
Ruff Hippie is more than a business, Talerico said, adding that it’s a life lesson for her four children. “I am always encouraging my children to reach for the stars,” Talerico, 37, said. “It’s my hope my children see how I had an idea and went for it and how hard I worked to make it happen. I want them and others to know that they can set goals and high expectations and if they meet that goal, to set another one. I am always looking beyond what I am doing to what I can do.”
Even three years after starting her business, Talerico is still amazed at the success of Ruff Hippie. “Too often people believe their silly ideas won’t amount to anything. I don’t believe any idea is silly. I encourage people to just go for it and see what their idea turns into,” she said. “Who would have ever thought hand-sewing dog bandanas would have led to everything it has.”