Jennifer Williams had just launched Cuddle Clones, a business making plush imitations of beloved pets, when we featured her as part of our 1,000+ Stories project in 2013. From the start, she said her customers and their furry friends were her inspiration, adding: “Reading our customers’ stories is one of the best parts of our day.”
Today, those tales pour in from 65 countries worldwide, and revenue is growing “by hundreds of percents each year.” Part of that influx is thanks to the company’s ever-expanding product line. What began as a stuffed-animal venture is now a full-fleged pet-memorabilia company that sells sandstone figurines, jewelry, cellphone covers, holiday stockings and more. And flash of viral fame in early 2015, courtesy of a feature on BuzzFeed, helped, too. Williams plans to continue adding new products, while also growing the company’s network of retailers and networking at pet industry conferences.
Managing Cuddle Clones requires a great deal of Williams’ time and energy, but she says it’s worth the effort — and that she especially enjoys the people aspect of entrepreneurship. In addition to connecting with customers, she frequently meets with other business owners near her Louisville, Ky., home to talk shop, she says. “I definitely like to meet new people, and having a regular, 9-to-5 job wouldn’t allow me to do that.”