A new Laramie business got its start with help from a TikTok video that Bryce and Kenzie Francois, owners of The BK Shop, posted last fall.
At The BK Shop, they make and sell custom resin and metal pet tags, as well as dog-safe candles, canine enrichment supplies and other pet supplies.
They started the business earlier this year, and opened a retail outlet at the corner of Fourth and Lewis streets in June. Inside, six employees make and ship a couple hundred orders a week around the country.
“We were just two people working normal post-college jobs, and all of a sudden we’re business owners,” Bryce said.
The two met while they both worked in social media positions for University of Wyoming Athletics, and they’ve been married for about a year. In addition to their 9-to-5 jobs, they’ve been exploring various entrepreneurial avenues for the past several years, each with a toe in the social media world.
“We’ve been very entrepreneurial and always wanted to work together, and for ourselves,” Bryce said.
After their wedding last summer, Kenzie first worked with resin in an attempt to preserve her wedding bouquet — inspired by a video she saw on the social media platform TikTok, where users share short videos.
The bouquet project didn’t turn out exactly as she was hoping, which was one reason Kenzie initially said no when Bryce suggested they try making dog tags with resin a few months later.
But Bryce’s idea prevailed, and last fall, they started making custom pet tags and posted videos showing their process on TikTok, one of which got 7 million views and a couple thousand orders from pet owners.
“Now we have a deal that we never ever, ever discount any ideas,” Kenzie said. “We always fully talk them through.”
A few weeks later, they both quit their jobs and opened The BK Shop, turning their side project into a full-time endeavor.
“We were thrown right into it,” Bryce said.
One morning earlier this week, three employees worked in a production space on various steps of the pet-tag process. They prepared resin for pouring into molds, added letters and other decorations, and then applied a clear coat over the top. Their goal is to ship 200 orders a week, and keeping up with demand has been a learning process, they said.
For resin tags, they use a combination of two-part epoxy resin, plus UV resin. Tags can be pre-designed or fully customized, they don’t jingle against other tags, and they’re waterproof.
They also sell pre-designed and customizable metal tags made using a process called sublimation, through which dyes are infused into aluminum.
The BK Shop headquarters has a retail space filled with products for pets and their owners, including supplies to facilitate canine enrichment, which means allowing pets to engage in innate behaviors such as digging, chewing and smelling.
They’ve been exploring canine enrichment with their own dogs — two Australian shepherds and a Great Dane — which inspired them to branch out into selling products, as well.
“One of our goals is bringing in products that Laramie doesn’t have,” Kenzie said.
Starting Monday, the store will be open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays. Online they’re at thebkshop.com, as well as on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
As young entrepreneurs, they said, they’ve benefited from growing up in a world connected by social media. A decade ago, for example, no one could have imagined launching a business with short videos and connecting with potential customers around the world.
They’ve also been willing to take risks, fail and step out into new territory.
“You have to do things nobody else has done,” Kenzie said.