Chances are about 50/50 that you could use a good cuddle these days. There’s a tweet making the rounds that says, “Pets of Nation’s Liberals Don’t Understand All The Extra Attention, Just Going With It.” But what if your pet won’t submit to a snuggle, or what if, heaven forbid, your best friend has died?
Pets Of Nation's Liberals Don't Understand All The Extra Attention, Just Going With It
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) November 10, 2016
There is a company in Louisville called Cuddle Clones that creates stuffed animals of people’s beloved pets. November is the company’s busiest month, says its founder, Jennifer Williams, with an uptick in business by around three times for the holidays.
There’s no getting around the sad fact that propels the business. More than 50 percent of orders come from people whose pets have died. That’s just the stuffed animal part of the business, though, Cuddle Clones also offers granite or wood pet memorial markers and 3D printed sandstone statues and jewelry.
People who mourn the loss of their pet often call the customer service line for the company and cry, Williams says. They want to hug their lost friend one more time.
But she says that is not the only reason to commission a Cuddle Clone. The company’s website offers a top 10 list of reasons, such as: Maybe your child is going off to college or boarding school and will miss the family pet. Perhaps it’s time for Nana to go to a nursing home, but it doesn’t allow her beloved cat. Maybe your ex got the shared pet in the custody battle. Or maybe you just like your animal a whole lot.
One family commissioned clones of their family dogs to send to the children in Thailand they were in the process of adopting, so the children could get used to the idea of their pets, Graham said.
The company, soon to celebrate its seventh anniversary, keeps adding products. Basically if it’s plush, Cuddle Clones can get it made. There are Cuddle Clones slippers and golf club covers. The company has even created stuffed animals of creatures from drawings, video games and animation.
Williams conceived the idea when her pet Great Dane, Rufus, was still alive. She was enjoying a good cuddle with her beloved dog and thought he would make a great stuffed animal. This was in 2005. When Rufus died on Thanksgiving Day in 2009, that kicked her imagination into full gear and Cuddle Clones was born.
What sets Louisville’s Cuddle Clones apart from other online purveyors of custom stuffed animals is that the company owns its own workshop in Dongguan in China. There the company employs 44 workers, who create the patterns, shop for materials and build the animals. Williams flew to China in April 2013 for a month to hold job interviews and search for a workshop site. The workers were asked to name the workshop, and they chose a name that roughly translates to “Together Pet Happiness.”
“Even if we could make them in the States, all the material would just come from China anyway,” Williams said. There are seven full-time employees in the Louisville office on W. Main St.
It takes around six to eight weeks to fulfill an order, but if you pay rush charges you can have your clone in as little as two weeks. Each animal is backed by a 100 percent guarantee; if you’re not happy, they’ll remake the little buddy or refund your money. With this liberal policy there has been only a 4 percent return rate, Williams said.
Customers have a lot of say over what position they want their clone in — seated or standing, curly tail or straight — and are encouraged to write customer service with important details that they don’t want overlooked. The resulting animals are incredibly intricate and detailed.
Look for a special sale on Cyber Monday and a new website with a “more premium look” coming soon. The new site will have a community portal on which people can share stories about their pets. The factory, too, is enjoying an upgrade, according to Graham, with new laser cutters and digital pattern makers.
Cuddle Clones donates liberally to animal welfare agencies locally, nationally and abroad, she says.
At the end of July, Cuddle Clones acquired CartoonizeMyPet, a site on which users can create an online, detailed avatar of their pet and then have that avatar printed on everything from T-shirts to business cards to pet bowls.
(Frankly, the site is awesome when it comes to dogs, less so for other types of pets. My best effort to create a cartoon version of my cat, Josephine, looks very little like her. But the artist who created the site, Francesca Hause, is fast at work creating new images as well as adding other kinds of pets.)
It does take time to make a new friend. Unless you pay a rush fee, it’s too late to guarantee your Cuddle Clone will be home in time for Christmas. But the figurines and jewelry have a faster turnaround and gift cards are always an option.