Shug and Bruce, Bulldogs with Heart
Bulldogs are a fun dog breed. With their wrinkly faces and stumpy proportions, there’s a level of comedic nobility in their appearance. Many people have fallen in love with these friendly pups, making them the fifth most-owned dog breed in the United States as of 2019, according to the American Kennel Club. It’s no wonder that there are so many Instagram and TikTok accounts featuring these popular pooches—including Shug and Bruce.
Shug and Bruce’s owner Rachel Givens fell in love with bulldogs over seven years ago and initially started their Instagram account with puppy Shug about three-and-a-half years back. Thanks to Shug’s personality and cute looks, it didn’t take long for him to build up a sizable fanbase. Once little brother Bruce was added to the mix, that fanbase grew—as did their social media presence, with TikTok being their next venture. Says Rachel, “Honestly, I started their TikTok for just myself. I obviously think they’re the cutest dogs in the world, but I recognized that I probably felt that way because they were mine, so I really didn’t expect so many people to be so interested in their lives.”
To Rachel’s surprise, people were VERY interested in Shug and Bruce’s lives! After a video of Shug’s first meeting with Bruce (and the training Rachel gave him to prepare for the newest member of the family) went viral, the audience following Shug and Bruce’s antics on TikTok exploded. Today, the gentle giants have over 200 thousand followers.
With this type of celebrity, creating custom merch to give back to the fans seemed like the next step—and when Shug and Bruce found out about Custom Ink’s Fundraising system, it became clear that it was the perfect platform to make custom shirts and hoodies. With their fundraiser set to donate funds to the Florida English Bulldog Rescue (FEBR), Rachel and her furry family could create a line of apparel for fans to support Shug, Bruce, and bulldogs in need across the state of Florida.
FEBR, a 501(c)3 organization run solely on volunteer hours and donations, provides neglected and/or abused bulldogs with medical attention, food, and general care until they can be rehomed. They also provide current bulldog owners who need to find their pet a new home a safe alternative to a shelter. The group has helped over 1,000 bulldogs find homes, and shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to raising funds for FEBR, Shug and Bruce’s fundraiser also raised awareness for the group and sent a message to fans about the importance of adopting rescue animals.
The design for Shug and Bruce’s apparel came from Custom Ink’s Design Services team, which is comprised of a group of talented artists that can lend assistance in polishing up pre-existing designs or make a unique piece of art completely from scratch. “I had a general idea of how I wanted things to look. I wanted the design to be relatable to as many different groups of people as possible, while still having the Shug & Bruce touch to it. I sent some general sketches to Custom Ink and they took over on the art and did a great outline of the pups,” Rachel says of the process. Graphic Illustrator Alan K. used Rachel’s sketches and ideas to create a fun logo for Shug and Bruce featuring the pair of pooches in a slick line-art style that looked great across the range of products in the campaign. Supporters could buy everything from a Comfort Colors 100% Cotton T-shirt or American Apparel USA-Made Jersey T-shirt, to a Next Level Women’s Crop T-shirt, or even rock a hoodie with either a Bella + Canvas Women’s Drop Shoulder Cropped Hoodie or a Bella + Canvas Ultra Soft Pullover Hoodie.
The fundraiser was a success, and raised over $1,000 for FEBR! Rachel was excited by what the Fundraising platform could do, saying “Custom Ink made me realize how easily I could use our platform to help others. It made me emotional […] because it was this “ah ha” moment of not only will people be wearing stuff with my dogs on it, but they’ll be helping a great organization.”
The feedback and response to the fundraiser in addition to the donations for FEBR were a highlight during the pandemic. “I’m so happy that Shug and Bruce have had such a positive impact on so many. I think with as crazy and challenging as 2020 has been, it makes me really proud that they’ve made so many people smile. They’re easy to fall in love with, but I’m glad it’s led to the opportunity to help others. We feel so fortunate.”