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

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Morning Insider Lauren Victory introduces us to a dog lover who found success when COVID-19 made things "ruff."

"I definitely wanted to do a business that I could incorporate my love for animals and that I could spend time with my dogs," said Cynthia Soto, pet fashion designer and owner of Pocha Shop.

Her three little fur babies often double as her beta testers. Soto started sowing the seeds of her company when the pandemic hit.

"We were quarantined, and I was scared. I was like, 'I don't know if I will have a job tomorrow, in a week, in a month,'" she said.

Her backup plan suddenly turned into a full-time gig after she was laid off from her early childhood education job in June. Her worst fear was actually a blessing in disguise.

"I kind of, like, started outside of my house, and there's a fence. So I would hang stuff on my fence," she said.

The products sold out almost immediately.

"I was like, 'Oh my God. This could be something big. It could grow. This is actually a thing!'" Soto said.

Her hand-crafted creations are more than a way to keep furry friends fashionable. Many are walking displays of Mexican culture.

"The textile is called Cambaya. Cambaya is dyed naturally, and it's threaded by hand," she said.

The material is sourced straight from Mexico by Soto's best friend and business partner.

"She definitely makes it a point to support people in need within Mexico also. So, I like to be full circle," Soto said.

Which brings us to the name of this Chicago venture: Pocha Shop.

"Mexicans call other Mexicans 'pochos' or 'pochas,' because they're not Mexican enough," Soto said.

The Mexican-American is proud of Pocha Shop, which will soon be written in big letters at the storefront on the 1900 block of West Cermak Road.

"I wanted to take that word and reclaim it," Soto said.

Blending two cultures while educating others, one outfit at a time.

Pocha Shop is an online-only store right now, and offers curbside pick-up or delivery within 10 miles of Pilsen.

The physical store will open early next month; with Mexican-inspired accessories for dogs, cats and humans.

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Cynthia Soto is seen in this story's video, wearing the shirt of a particular early childhood education center, Sonnets Academy.  Ms. Soto resigned her position from Sonnets. She was laid off from a different daycare center.

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