Hello! My name is Aurora Baldovini and I am a 15-year-old small business owner of Zoo Bandanas in South Florida. I live with my mom, Corbie, and my sister Stella. I love traveling to visit my family who live all over the country, but also my family that lives in Italy. I like to sew, paint, and watch any new show on Netflix. I currently attend Miami Arts Charter School where I can participate in my passion for technical theatre. I also have a passion for animals and I want to start volunteering and donating bandanas for my local animal shelter next year.
Do you have pets? What are their personalities?
Yes, I do, I have 4 pets. I have 2 dogs named Dexter and Draper and I have 2 cats named Jinx and Jules. Dexter is my first pet and he is the oldest at 10 years old. Even though I try not to choose, I think Dexter is my favorite pet because I practically grew up with him. He likes to sleep for the majority of the day and I love snuggling with him on the couch. Then comes Jinx who is six years old. Jinx is the alpha of the house and honestly, he acts more like a dog than a cat. He is also my superhero when it comes to catching bugs. Then it’s Draper who just turned a year old and is our quarantine puppy. He is a very high-energy dog and it’s very exciting to take him to the dog park and see whom he will make friends with this time. Lastly is Jules who is our rescue cat. A month after we got Draper, somehow, I convinced my mom to rescue Jules from this shelter. He is very skittish and he loves cuddles and treats. My mom likes to say we live in a zoo which is what inspired the name for Zoo Bandanas.
Describe your product?
I make bandanas for dogs, cats, or just any pet owner who wants to add a little flair to their pet. All of my bandanas are made with fabric that I have purchased from my local fabric store and I sew all of them myself. I add a little tag on the side of each bandana so you will always know where you got them. All of my bandanas are snap-on which means that they have little pieces on the end of them that connect and are easy to snap on and off. I also make scrunchies, which is a type of hair tie, with any available bandana fabric so any pet owners can match their pet’s bandana. All of my products are machine washable and the bandanas are easy to iron, excluding the snaps of course!
For the next young entrepreneur; what were the steps you took to get where you are?
It all starts with an idea, but before you start anything it takes a lot of planning and organizing how you want to make your idea come alive. Once I told my mom about my idea she completed supported me and she helped me research ways to learn how to sew. Because of coronavirus all of the sewing classes offered nearby were shut down, so my mom found an online course on the basics of sewing. At the time I borrowed a tiny sewing machine from a family friend and I got to work. I started learning how to thread and just how to use a sewing machine in general. I practiced sewing straight lines and from there I practiced making bandanas. After months of practicing, I finally had my idea of the perfect product. Around the middle of my sewing practice, my mom surprised me with my heavy-duty sewing machine. I made an inventory of all of my bandanas and I tried opening my website, but in the end, I found Etsy easier to use. I purchased my shipping materials and started an Instagram account for my business. After that my business has been progressing accordingly.
What has been your proudest moment with your product?
The proudest moment of my product has been my first order from someone that I didn’t know. When I first launched my business the people in my family who have pets were the first people to order, but when someone that I didn’t personally know purchased my product I felt a moment of pure excitement. I was so overjoyed that when I got the notification I ran out of my room and started screaming. My mom thought I was insane, but when I finally explained even she was as excited as I was. It was one if not the greatest moment of quarantine.
What makes you happy?
A lot of things make me happy, but if I had to list a few they would be riding roller coasters, traveling, and thunderstorms. My first roller coaster was when I was six years old. I went to Disney World for my birthday and I rode Space Mountain first row and this moment will always be a core memory for me. I love traveling and my mom has taken me on planes since I was 3 months old. I like experiencing new things and traveling is also very important to me because it’s the only way I would be able to spend time with my family. My favorite places I’ve been to are probably Italy, New York, and Illinois. I love thunderstorms probably because of living in Florida my whole life, it’s a very comforting sound and it just instantly helps me fall asleep.
What is your future vision for your product?
My future vision for my product is probably to be able to donate my bandanas to my local animal shelter. I love making my bandanas and I think that donating them to the dogs and cats who don’t have a home would help them get adopted. One of the jobs for volunteers at the animal shelter is to assist them by taking adorable pictures of the pets so they have a higher chance of adoption. With an extra pop of color to their fur, I think my bandanas could help with the pictures.
How did you decide that this will be your product?
I first saw this idea when I had made an Instagram account for my dog Draper. I saw how people had started their bandana businesses for dogs and I was inspired. I was bored for most of the quarantine, but sewing was my outlet. I was able to focus on something else other than what would happen next to the world. After watching a few Youtube videos I knew that I could do it and I spoke to some family friends who knew how to sew to help me. After that, I was hooked on researching everything I could about sewing.
Is this a stepping stone to what you want to do in the future?
The best way I can answer this is sort of. I don’t want to make this small business my career, but I would like to continue using it as a side business. I love sewing and making bandanas so I want to continue doing it and donating as much as I can to animal shelters.
Find Zoo Bandanas:
Etsy: Zoo Bandanas