This week on All My Children Wear Fur Coats, we had the pleasure of speaking with Caitlin Brown. She is the founder and CEO of Sparkles and Sunshine Blog. Caitlin started her blog as a creative outlet from her full-time job. It quickly blossomed into something much more meaningful. Listen in to learn more!Support the show
Welcome to All My Children
Wear Fur Coats with Peggy Hoyt.
Our goal is to keep loved pets in loving
homes by educating pet parents about the importance of
ensuring every pet has a forever home.
For more information about creating a legacy for
your pet or to listen to archive shows,
visit animalcaretrustusa.org or legacyforyourpet.com.
Join your host, author, estate planning
attorney and animal advocate, Peggy Hoyt.
Hello pet lovers.
Welcome to All My Children Wear Fur Coats.
I'm your host, Peggy Hoyt, and this show is brought
to you by the law offices of Hoyt and Brian,
where we create estate plans for pets and their people.
Also brought to you by Animal Care
Trust USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to
keeping loved pets in loving homes.
We do this by educating pet parents about the importance
of getting a pet trust for their loved pets.
We also provide pet trustee services and it is our
pleasure today to introduce you to our special guest.
Her name is Caitlin Brown and she is the
founder and CEO of Sparkles and Sunshine Blog.
Welcome, Caitlin. Thank you for having me.
I'm so excited.
Well, I met Caitlin at a global pet expo
this year, which is this huge animal event that
takes place in Orlando, Florida every year in March.
And she was in the press room when Sarah Westerkamp
and I walked in and we immediately gravitated towards each
other and found that we have a lot in common.
And it became immediately apparent that I
needed to introduce everybody to Caitlin.
So I'm going to give you a
little bit of background on Ms.
She created Sparkles and Sunshine Blog over
four years ago, originally as a creative
outlet from her full time job.
And what started as a few blog posts quickly
turned into a passion of helping other pet parents
find helpful information about puppy training tips, big dog
care, and her favorite dog enrichment ideas.
Caitlin's bubbly personality shines through with every authentic
and honest post and with tons of knowledge
of the pet industry and dog training.
Sparkles and Sunshine Blog is your go
to blog for everyday relatable pet topics.
And I have to say that she's also crazy about
horses and cats and so she really does cover the
full spectrum and is probably a sister of another mother
because we all love dogs, cats and horses.
Sounds about right. Yes.
Tell us, how did you get this
idea to do Sparkles and Sunshine Blog?
Yeah, so a couple of years ago,
my background is actually in marketing.
I went to school for It and I worked
at a few different companies in their marketing departments.
And first company I worked for actually had we
were at the beginning stages of bloggers and influencers
and they were starting a blogger program.
And when I was at the forefront of that, I
was looking at what they were doing and all that
and I was like, well, that looks really fun.
I was like, I kind of want to do that.
And I was just like, this is the cool way for
me to kind of do something that was my own.
I didn't have to get approval from a boss.
I could just be fully myself and
just kind of go for it.
And I started originally, the company was
a fashion company, so it's like, okay,
well, let's start with fashion.
And then I quickly realized, caitlin,
you don't really care about fashion.
You grew up with dogs, and you like animals, so
why don't you switch to what you actually care about?
Once I switch to that, it's been a game
changer, because one pet parent does not want to
spend as much time with their pets as possible.
So that's kind of where it all
originated from and the name itself.
I'm a very happy, fun, outgoing person.
I always joke that I could talk to a brick wall.
Like, I really could.
It's kind of a full blown conversation, and I was trying
to think of something that would just kind of summarize who
I am, and it honestly just popped into my head.
I think I was in a public's parking lot, and I
was like, sounds good, and I just kept it awesome.
Well, you know, I have a horse named Sparkle, so
this goes right along with the whole Sparkles and sunshine.
It's a perfect fit.
All right, so tell us about
the animals that you have today.
So I have two dogs and one cat.
So my two dogs the first is Diesel.
He is my pride and joy.
He's my first dog ever on my own.
I've grown up with a ton, but he's my first.
He is a mastiff Great Dane Daffy
hound mix, and he's six years old.
And then I have Annie.
She's our newest dog.
I got her actually during COVID as a puppy.
Both of them I got as puppies.
She is my sassy, super smart, super intelligent, like, kind
of smart for her own good kind of thing.
And she is a border collie, aussie cattle dog type mix.
She's super fun, but she definitely
keeps me on my toes.
And then our newest addition is Colonel Mustard.
He's our ginger kitten who will actually turn
a year old in July of this year.
And we adopted him in March, actually, so around
the same time as the Global Pet Expo.
And he's just the best.
He is such a chill, happy personality.
He fits right in with the dogs. He snuggles with them.
He plays with them.
He kind of torments Diesel every now and then
by biting his toes, but he fits right in,
and we have just a great family. That's awesome.
Well, enough said.
When you said Aussie border collie mix about being
super smart and keeping you on your toes, right? Yeah.
So when you talk about canine enrichment, what is
it about that that you like, and then what
do you want to share about that?
Yeah, so I discovered canine enrichment, actually, when
I got Annie kind of around that time.
Just because that same time, when it was during
COVID I was working home from home more.
And so I had to figure out some ways to kind
of not only her as a puppy, but for diesel, kind
of give them some more activities to keep them busy.
Which I know a lot of people
at that time needed the same thing.
They needed a way to entertain their pets when they
were taking Zoom calls, because we've all had that Zoom
call where our dog decides to come up and woof.
I know I have.
I'm waiting for it during this podcast.
But we've all kind of had those moments, and so
I wanted to figure out something that would work.
And so I started searching, like how to
keep my dog busy when working from home.
And it popped up and I was
like, oh, now this is really cool.
And I just kind of took dive into it and
I learned about puzzles, I learned about games, I learned
about all the different things, even outside of that you
can do with your dog to really give them a
way to kind of stimulate their brain.
Outside of just doing a game of Fetch
once a day, it's just been incredible.
So I've really just taken a dive into it.
So you're spending time every day
doing enrichment with your dogs then? I would say so.
I usually try to do it daily.
There's always some weeks where you do
it every couple of times a week.
Dog parents are busy.
Cat parents, horse parents, we're all busy.
My goal is always daily, but sometimes it's
at least a couple of times a week.
So tell us, what are some of your
favorite store bought dog enrichment puzzles or games?
So my top favorite is Outward Hound, the Nina
Ophausen collection by Outward Hound, which, fun fact, she
was at the Global Pet Expo and I was
so excited, I got a picture with her.
I was fan girling so hard.
It was somewhat embarrassing, but it's fine.
She has made some really awesome dog puzzles and
cat puzzles and have so many different levels that
you can do to really challenge your dog.
So once they figure out one, you can level it
up or even with one puzzle, there's so many ways
to make it more advanced or more challenging so you
can not just buying one and then it's done.
There's so many ways you can use it.
And then outside of that, I love finding Snuffle mats,
which is kind of like a mat with some felt
material that allows your dog to sniff through it.
I love Westpa. It's a brand.
They have something called a Topple.
I love those.
Everyone's heard of a Kong.
I love a kong.
And then my other favorite is a licky mat.
Those are great too.
So tell us, what is a licky mat?
A licky mat is a rubber mat,
usually in the shape of a square.
But there's some other brands out there that
make dog lick mats in different shapes.
But essentially it's a rubber mat
that has different textures on it.
When your dog goes to lick whatever you put on
it, which any dog safe ingredients, it actually helps reduce
anxiety and tension for your dog because licking is a
natural way for dogs to do that.
So I like to give those to my dogs.
I'll make some not put in the freezer
because anything that's frozen lasts so much longer.
There's a pro tip. Definitely do that.
I recommend it, and it's one of my
dog's favorite things to do during the week.
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Oh, that's awesome.
You can also use Licky Max right to
distract your dog if you're trying to cut
nails or something that they don't like.
Yes, I've had a little success in the bathtub,
but they have something called the Licky mat splash,
and it suction cups onto your bathtub or your
wall in the shower or whatever.
And I've used that a couple of times with Annie.
I'll do some Nut Butter and stick
some treats, but she was smart enough.
She was booping the treats off and like, oh, no.
But that works pretty well too.
So I know you mentioned that you got started
in fashion and that wasn't really your thing, but
I'm going to call you out on this because
if you go to your equestrian life portion of
your blog, there's an awful lot of fashion modeling
going on there with you and different outfits.
I do like some writing outfits, I'm not going to lie.
And I've had the great opportunity to meet
a lot of really cool equestrian brands.
Like, some of my favorites are Carrots
Castell Denmark, which Castell makes some of
the prettiest writing shirts I've ever seen.
Like, if you love really feminine,
really prints and colors, they're phenomenal.
I've worked with them.
Like I said, I love carrots.
I have a handful of favorites.
So I have had a really great opportunity to try
a lot of brands and really figure out what styles
work best for me because I'm not super, super skinny.
I'm like a size 810, and I wanted to find
brands that really work for my size and are flattering
and make me feel confident when I'm writing.
Because just like when you go to work,
if you feel confident in what you're wearing,
sometimes that can trickle into what you're going
to be doing that day or whatever activity.
So it's a great way to boost your confidence, too.
And I'm happy to see that in most
of your pictures, you're wearing a riding helmet.
Oh, I'm big on that.
Because I'm an adult, I can't afford to
fall, and it's something that comes with it.
We all fall, and you got to be safe.
There's no point in risking it.
It's really not. Absolutely.
So I keep joking with my girlfriends
that I want to have a bling.
Your helmet party. I'm so down. I want to come.
Yeah, so have everybody bring either a new or used
helmet, and then we can just get together with a
glue gun and some Bling and go crazy.
Sounds like fun.
It'll probably be cheaper than getting
one that's already blinged out anyways. They're insane.
Well, and yeah, we all need to find ways
to save money when we're dealing with horses.
Oh, gosh, aren't that the truth?
So I noticed on your site that
you mentioned that you leased a horse.
Are you still leasing?
We ended up actually just not being the perfect fit,
which is something that I actually kind of learned through
my experience with him and kind of learned that I
always knew that everyone kind of has their fit and
the type of horse that they want to ride.
And it worked out at first, but then as I
was starting to learn more, he was the most patient
horse, but he was more advanced than I wasn't.
Let's be real.
All the horses I'm riding, they
all know more than I do.
At the same time, some horses, I think, are
more patient than others for certain things, and I
think he had higher expectations of me, the level
I was at, and that just happens.
There's nothing wrong with it.
And so he is actually helping some other kids
drive right now, and they're a really good match.
And I'm able to enjoy so many of the
other awesome horses at my barn and learn from
them, and they've been a perfect match for me.
Well, I think that's a good point, though.
But I think you did the right thing as you were
new getting into horses as an adult, and instead of just
jumping in and buying the first horse that you come across,
you took the time to lease a horse.
And I think a lot of people don't even
know that leasing is an option or a possibility.
There's such a thing as half leases and leases.
Yeah, free leases. That's right.
There's a great way to get to know a horse that
you might have a future interest in or to discover what
are your strengths or what are the horses strengths and what
is going to be a good match for you forward.
So I think that was brilliant.
So I'm glad you did that for our listeners.
I was teasing with Caitlin earlier that she needs to
start, like, an old lady's corner on her blog so
that she can have me on as a special guest.
But I told her I was on a Facebook
group called Hags with Nags, which is just horses
are fun, so it's good to be part of
a community where you can share that common interest.
You have to come out to my barn sometime.
We have, like, 40 plus acres.
It's a really great property to throw right on.
So you have to come join us. Okay.
Yeah, that sounds awesome.
And I have my own pro tips for
clothing, accessories, because we all have our favorites.
It takes us years and years and
years to figure out what we like.
And then every time we get a new horse, then we
have to go through that whole process all over again.
Because you got to find the right saddle, the
right girth, the right saddle pad, the right bridle.
And then once you've got all that figured
out, then you got to match your outfits
to all the things chosen for your horse. Right.
But that's the fun part anyway.
All right, so what else can
you tell us about your blog?
Well, I know what I wanted to ask, because
there may be some people listening today who are
excited about the idea of blogging, and they want
to know, can you do this for a living?
The answer is yes, you can.
So I took full time a little over a year ago.
I was one of the many that
did lose their job during the pandemic.
We all kind of went through that, and at that time,
I sat down with my boyfriend and we looked at our
finances, and I was like, could we do this?
Could I try and just go for it?
Because at that time, it really was a side hustle.
I wasn't trying to scale it yet.
I was just keeping it the way it was,
and he was just like, I think we can.
And so I decided to go for it.
And I'd say, like, last summer is when I
really went hard, and I was really seeing a
lot of progress in my Google numbers and my
Pinterest and all these different things.
The point where I knew that I could start
making a decent amount of money from it.
And then when I attended the Global Pet Expo this
year, I was able to make so many awesome connections,
meet people that I've been talking to for email or
via email for months and meet them in person, because
some of those connections also made during the pandemic.
I couldn't actually meet them in
person or do anything like that.
So that opportunity alone, I made so
many great relationships that I've started sharing
about on my blog this year.
If you start following along
after this, it's definitely possible.
And it's been really cool to kind of be able to
just share all about pets as my full time job.
Yeah, I think I'm actually a little jealous.
So I hope that if people are listening and they're
inspired by that, they'll take some guidance from you and
go check out the sparklesinchsunshineblog.com and you can find out
all of the fun things that Caitlin is doing.
And what would you leave
our listeners with today, Caitlin? Oh, gosh. Okay.
Well, I think for anyone signing off, I
just want to say if you have heard
of me, thank you, obviously for supporting me.
It really does mean a lot.
And if you are new to this and you really
want to get into it, I just want to kind
of give a few little tips of advice.
I would really recommend making sure that you have your own
website, really spending time to kind of build that up, because
at the end of the day, you own that.
If Instagram were to shut down
tomorrow, you don't own that.
But if you have your own website, you always have
a way to reach people and then focus on those
channels that you can really build traffic back to that.
So a Pinterest, a YouTube, things that are what people
use to search for and find really cool ideas.
I feel like when you focus on channels like
that, you have a really great opportunity to grow
and make that community of parents or whatever your
niche is that you're really trying to build.
And then hopefully that'll lead to being
able to do this full time.
So how many hours a day would you say you spend
devoted to your that I should they always joke, you know,
when you when I worked corporate for so long, from the
beginning, I was spending more time, but then as time went
on, I was very adamant on, like, this is my schedule.
This is when I'm done, I'm going home.
And I thought that would carry over
when I did my own thing.
No, you end up working way more when it's
your own because you're more excited about it.
The benefit of that though,
is you have more flexibility.
So sometimes I'll get up early, work
till the middle of the day.
I usually do a break in the afternoon or in the morning
for a riding lesson, and then sometimes I come home and I
might finish a couple of things and then call it.
My schedule varies kind of daily, but I
feel like it's probably more than the standard
nine to 540 hours work week.
Let's be real.
So how do you stay motivated?
Looking at my dogs? Yeah. Okay.
Just knowing that everything that I'm doing allows
me to do more things with them.
Even with riding, I'm able to
do more things at the barn.
I'm able to take another lesson.
I'm able to pull horse show if I want to.
I'm able to just try something new.
Everything really does come back to my animals just because
they are kind of at the heart of everything that
I love and they're the reason why I do it. Absolutely.
That's why I do everything I do.
So thank you for everything that you do.
And thank you for joining us today.
And thank you to our listeners.
And I just give out my
friendly reminder until there are none.
Please adopt one and protect your pet with a pet trust.
And until next time, happy tails.
Thank you for joining us on All My Children
Wear fur coats with your host, Peggy Hoyt.
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