Indigo fabric. Neon details. Leather embossing. This ike & stella collar is the coolest, and the story behind it is even better. Lucky for you, dear reader, you have the chance to win it.
Jennifer Armstrong, the founder and creator of ike & stella, met her first litter of "potcake" puppies in 2011 near her father's home in the Bahamas. The term "potcake" is used to describe feral dogs that roam the streets in the Caribbean, deriving from the crusted "cake" that Bahamians would leave out after cooking their staple dish of peas and rice. One man's trash is a tasty meal for a homeless pup.
The name of the island is Andros, and while it's by far the biggest island in the Bahamas, it's also the least populated. Other than in the government, there are virtually no jobs there, and most of the local people live in total poverty. Aside from the small patch of sweet little pink and turquoise bungalows, owned by foreigners, most of the houses there look abandoned. Some of them are missing windows and have dirt for floors, and it's one of these houses that is responsible for my family's involvement with potcakes.
An old woman, who everyone in town calls "Grannie," lives in one with two small boys and a constantly rotating assortment of potcakes. While they don't exactly take care of the dogs in the way you or I take care of our dogs, it's where the dogs sleep at night in hopes of catching a scrap or two. They keep the kids company and protect the family from sketchy passerby. (You can't pass the house without getting an earfull.)
One night, two of the potcakes who lived with Grannie, Becky and Ginger, dropped off three puppies at the neighbor Chris's house, who also happens to be a veterinarian from BC. Chris's son kept one puppy, and Jennifer agreed to take the others back with her to find them homes. The night before she was about to leave for the airport, she opened the door to find two more puppies and two pairs of eyes flickering in the distance before disappearing.
I love this story so much because it shows how whip-smart these dogs are. Becky and Ginger figured out where the pups from the first drop had gone, and they brought the rest in hopes that we would take care of them too. They even came back in the middle of the night to check on them - I had put them in the outdoor shower for the night, and I awoke to the puppies crying like maniacs. When I went outside I saw Becky and Ginger, so I opened the gate, and the puppies bolted out to meet them. I left the gate open and went back to bed, assuming I'd wake up and they would be gone, but in the morning there they were, curled up in the empty beer box I put out for them in case it rained. I don't know how, but somehow Ginger told them to stay there, not to follow her home, that they would be safe.
The two puppies I took went to the same home in Colorado, and of the remaining two, one became a part of my dad's (ever-growing) family of potcakes, and the other they found a home for in Florida. My dad adopted Ginger, too, though it took them months to get her to come close enough to pet. That's how she got her name actually, when a neighbor asked if he could pet her, my dad's wife said "gingerly" - which became "Ginger Lee". They tried to adopt Becky, but some potcakes are meant to stay potcakes, and Becky is one of them. I sometimes wonder if she's really a guardian potcake-angel, especially because all these years later living on the streets, she's still alive and well, stopping in to my dad's house every evening for dinner and a belly rub.
The rest was history for Jennifer and her family. Jennifer's father now has five potcakes and has found homes for dozens more. He runs an annual spay/neuter clinic on Andros where he flies in a vet, and along with Chris, they offer free spay/netuer to anyone who wants it. Jennifer takes home a few dogs with her every time she visits the Bahamas, including two 4-week-old potcakes in 2012 named Ike and Stella.
Though Stella found a new home in Denver, Ike stayed on as Jennifer's best bud and the official product tester for ike & stella's handmade goods.
When I met him as a tiny puppy I was in a freefall. I had just moved back to Denver after a bunch of plans to live elsewhere fell through, as they tend to do sometimes. I was back at my old job, which wasn't exactly a bad thing, but I knew it was time to "figure out what I was going to do with my life". I didn't even think I was going to keep Ike at first, I thought I was too poor, plus my apartment building didn't allow dogs. But there was just something about him, the way he always slept on his back with his paws in the air probably. I became obsessed with moving, and by the end of the month I had found a place and he was mine. I hadn't even unpacked everything in my new place before I sat down to make my first dog collar, on a $4o sewing machine my mom gave me, and I just never really stopped making them since then.
About a year later the flexibility of having my own business allowed me to move to Los Angeles, where I've been ever since (and may very well always be). I firmly believe that he set off a chain of events that pushed my life forward in a way that I don't think would have happened without him. He's indispensable.
For every ike & stella collar sold, $1 goes towards homing or spaying/neutering of potcakes in the Bahamas.
So how do you get your paws on this awesome collar? It's simple.
1) Repost the flyer on your Instagram
2) In the caption make sure to include, "This is my entry for the @ike.and.stella and @clairecudahy #iandsgiveaway."
3) Must be following @ike.and.stella and @clairecudahy
4) One entry per account
All entries will be put in a bowl and the winner will be picked at random! You have until midnight on Friday, March 20 to enter. Good luck!