Maple Grove 14-year-old starts business that gives back

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Kat Bearce is over the moon with her dog Luna.

"Do you love that dog?" we asked. "Yeah, a lot!" she smiled.

The two-year-old Teddy Bear dog — yes, that’s a breed — joined this Maple Grove family and became inseparable from Kat during the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown.

"Pandemic, they were doing full-time distance learning," Kat’s mom Megan recalls. "She was bored and we had just got a puppy that she was buying a lot of bandanas for."

This puppy love story rapidly evolved into Instagram fame, after the 14-year-old began posting photos of Luna.

"She has about 5,000 followers, and I just posted pictures of her and stuff and that’s when the whole bandana turn started," Kat says.

Ah, yes, bandanas.

Those colorful kerchiefs quickly became all the rage in the canine fashion world during the pandemic.

"So everybody was buying their dogs bandanas, and I was spending a ton of money on them too," Kat recalls. "And I said, well, these things don’t seem hard to make, so I did make some practice ones for her. They were pretty easy, so I decided to start making my own."

That stay-at-home boredom came in pretty handy, sparking an idea.

"So she asked, can I start selling dog bandanas, and we said sure," Bearce remembers.

Kat started selling her bandanas online in October 2020 under the name "Love, Luna."

Bearce says her daughter does all the designing, sewing and marketing herself.

"She researches the fabric, she pulls together collections," she explains. "That seems to be the side she really gets excited about, is picking what’s going to get together. Shooting all the pictures for listings. So it’s definitely an all-in front to back for her."

Kat says she now has a 500-person customer base.

She’s created about 70 designs, selling about 1,000 bandanas, bows and scrunchies on her Etsy account.

Bearce says "Love, Luna" is now incorporated, a limited liability company in her name, because Kat is under 18.

She says the company’s gross income is about $12,000.

"It’s been really fun to watch her too because she taught herself all these marketing skills and social media skills, but also learning about international shipping challenges because we get our tags from Canada," Bearce notes.

"She’s connected with some teen business owners in the U.S., a few overseas as well," she adds. "They’ve really helped each other, get feedback on their listings, give each other ideas on their customer service, just really support each other."

From all the dozens of designs she’s created — including holiday themes — KSTP asked Kat which one she likes the most.

"Like my favorite from the holiday collection is ‘Sleigh All Day,’ has little Christmas trees on sleds," Kat says. "I like that one."

But this teen entrepreneur wanted to do more.

"I just thought it would be important to be donating and giving back to the community and people," Kat declares.

"It wasn’t a surprise when she came to me and said, ‘I want to do an equality for all bandanas and give back some money to organizations,’" Bearce says.

So now, Kat donates 20% of her net profits from four bandana designs to nonprofit groups.

The themes include "Equality for All," "Girl Power," "Empowered" and "Breast Cancer Awareness."

Bearce says the "Equality" bandana — Kat’s first for fundraising — came about after the murder of George Floyd.

She says Kat wanted to donate to groups that support social justice.

"It is very satisfying and exciting that I get to help people while doing something fun," Kat says. "Just really wanted to give back and help people and make their day."

Bearce says Kat has sold her merchandise to customers across the U.S., as well as in Norway, Canada, Germany and Hong Kong.

They use eco-friendly, compostable packages for shipping.

Bearce says the company also plants trees using a portion of its sales.

Kat says she’d like to add dog harnesses and collars to her online store, which Bearce says would help her learn about wholesaling.

And what would the 14-year-old like to do when she grows up?

Maybe… get into the fashion industry, she says.

But for now, what began as a fun fashion statement by an enterprising teen has grown into a business that’s giving back — and helping others.

"It’s nice that people will hear her story," Bearce says. "Hopefully, inspire others especially right now, when a little kindness goes a long ways."

You can find information about Kat’s business here.