Identical twins Kathleen and Kristina Cuce had been against using animals in circuses for so long as they may bear in mind. But it wasn’t till they have been 15, when Kathleen was doing analysis for a college mission on circus animals, that she and her sister discovered of all of the abuses animals endure not solely to offer “leisure,” however meals, product testing, clothes, equipment, and extra.
“I needed to go to PETA headquarters in Norfolk [Virginia] to get info, however I used to be sick, so Kristina went for me and picked up some pamphlets,” Kathleen remembers. “There was one pamphlet specifically that had details about the therapy of animals in slaughterhouses, and it actually disturbed me.”
It was then that Kathleen determined to turn out to be vegetarian. Her sister adopted go well with quickly after, and immediately, the 37-year-old Virginia Beach residents will not be solely vegan, however run a profitable cruelty-free enterprise and spend numerous hours on animal rescue missions.
Functional fan footwear
The youngest of 4 daughters, Kristina and Kathleen spent their teenage and school years working of their dad and mom’ Italian restaurant. With a robust work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, they knew they needed to begin their very own enterprise. Because they have been each style aficionados with a penchant for footwear—and pissed off with the dearth of animal-skin- or fur-free choices—they started trying into making sneakers and boots, however not simply any sneakers and boots.
Die-hard Colts followers, they went to an NFL recreation at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. By the time they made their manner from the car parking zone to the stadium in inclement climate, their ft have been soaked.
“We thought it might be nice if we may get rain boots with a Colts brand, so we went to the professional store and the staff instructed us that they didn’t carry footwear,” Kathleen says. “They had every little thing else beneath the solar with the Colts brand, however not footwear.”
“So we got here house and appeared into it,” Kristina continues. “And licensed footwear didn’t exist.”
In fall 2009, they contacted the NFL licensing division, and by March 2010, Cuce Shoes had launched its first merchandise, making a revenue the primary 12 months and rising by leaps and bounds yearly since—even acquiring a license from the National Hockey League. The sisters have expanded their line to incorporate quite a lot of boots—together with some that don’t have sports activities logos on them and a mode that appears like Uggs, solely with out sheepskin or wool—equipment, and attire.
“It is essential to us that we use solely synthetics in our collections,” Kathleen says.
“We select from the best fake furs, artificial suedes, and man-made leathers. There isn’t any motive to put on one other dwelling being’s pores and skin. Ever.”
“These days,” she provides, “the synthetics in the marketplace are simply as nice high quality and sturdy as actual animal skins. There’s an enormous false impression that fake is affordable. The artificial materials we use is definitely higher [than animal skins and fur].”
Time effectively spent
While the Cuce sisters—who’re each married and have two rescue canines every—are dedicated to the continued success (and enlargement) of their enterprise, their hearts and souls are of their volunteer animal rescue efforts. They, together with their two older sisters, work with a number of animal welfare organizations within the South, donating money and time to coordinating rescues with transporters and discovering foster and eternally houses for animals.
“We run it like a enterprise as a result of we have to work actually shortly generally to get canines out of harmful conditions or out of kill shelters,” Kristina says, including that they’ve a “very thorough” screening course of to ensure the canines go to good houses. They even have a robust social media presence the place they provide “pupdates” on how canines they’ve rescued are doing.
“We have heard wildlife cry for his or her infants. We have rescued canines and seen the transformation from being petrified to having a lot love. All beings have emotions,” Kathleen says. “They say ignorance is bliss, and I definitely imagine that. There are some days I want I didn’t know what occurs with reference to manufacturing facility farming, furriers, and canine preventing. The data can take you to a darkish place.”
And whereas it’s troublesome for Kathleen and Kristina to course of the magnitude of animal struggling, they plan to maintain plugging away, doing what they’ll professionally and personally, to assist all animals.
Juliet Pennington is a Boston-based journalist who focuses on journey, leisure, and all-things vegan.