MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — They have nearly 2 million followers on Instagram and a healthy enough business that they would walk away from full time jobs, all because of a dream about a dog.
“I woke up and was literally like, ‘I’m getting a dog today,'” Ahmed El Shourbagy said.
That’s how Lucy the pug and Boston terrier mix became the first ever post to the Dogs of Instagram account. But her owners are quickly becoming behind-the-scenes stars.
Their North Minneapolis apartment has gone to the dogs. Luckily, El Shourbagy and Ashley Paguyo’s best friends aren’t just allowed at work, but are the center of it.
“I like to think she’s been doing all of this with her mind to get us to work from home,” El Shourbagy said.
The two started the Dogs of Instagram account back in 2011. Lucy was El Shourbagy’s first-ever dog and their first picture posted.
“I didn’t know a thing about dogs,” El Shourbagy said.
What he did know, is that he was onto something. Paguyo saw it, too.
“We met 10 days after Ahmed started Dogs of Instagram,” Paguyo said. “Someone leaned over and patted him on the back and was like, ‘Congratulations for reaching 1,000 followers.'”
Ashley was holding a focus group researching millennials’ use of smart phone applications. Afterward, they went to lunch, where they set up a strategic communication plan.
“I’ve always been that person who’s reminded and encouraged him,” Paguyo said.
In August, the two will be getting married.
“It wasn’t in the original strategic communication plan, but we’re obviously very excited about it,” Paguyo said.
The couple kept their full-time jobs for three years — Paguyo as a community director for a co-working space, El Shourbagy an MBA-educated consultant.
“I was doing Dogs of Instagram on my lunch break, elevator, wherever I was,” El Shourbagy said.
They get 300 to 500 submissions every single day.
“We only pick three or four,” El Shourbagy said. “That 15 minutes of fame is a big deal for people.”
A bigger deal for the couple was starting an online boutique for dog lovers called Lucy and Co. They only pick vendors that match the high quality of products already in their home. Lately, the apartment is the story, because it’s also their warehouse.
“We pack all our orders in our PJs,” Paguyo said.
The site allowed them to leave their jobs, but they’re already working on the next big thing. Dogs of Instagram will become a book in 2016, and they recently interviewed for a reality TV show about being social media famous.
“We’re not personally famous,” El Shourbagy said.
But in their world, every dog does have its day.