A Southern Californian photographer crawls onto a wooden chest at a hotel in the United States and starts snapping away to get the perfect shots. The model doesn’t fuss or adjust their hair when the camera lens encroaches on their personal space. After a short while, the model rolls on to her side and has a little stretch then starts to lick her paws. You might think that was a bit odd for a model, but you have to remember, this model is a cat.
The model’s name is Bagel. A cat, but not just an ordinary cat. The rescue from a Los Angeles County shelter is known for her collection of fashionable sunglasses, a stylish accessory born of necessity, not vanity. When Bagel was a kitten, her owner, Karen McGill, discovered that she suffered from eyelid agenesis, a congenital condition that prevents the eyelids from developing. The absence of natural shades means that Bagel can’t blink or clear debris from her eyes
To protect Bagel’s corneas from scratches, a friend of Karen’s rigged up some special kitty sunglasses: An elastic band slips around the head and tucks under the chin, like wrestling headgear. Of course, no L.A. cat would dare leave her lair without a little bling, so Karen bedazzles the frames. All 600 pairs. “We have different colours for holidays, with skulls and pumpkins and hearts,” she says.
Until a few years ago, Bagel was a common house cat with a small circle of friends. Today, she is the public figure known as Sunglass Cat with a big online social following. On her account, she sports flashy spectacles that sparkle as brightly as her fabulous life, which includes gambling trips to Vegas, Beverly Hills pool parties and sunset strolls on the strand at Venice Beach, California.
Where many of us search for ways to build our personal brand or online profile, Bagel seems to have this nailed. Every year, she appears at cat conventions and animal rescue events. Although this might sound odd, what I realised the most from reading this article, was that the owner Karen had an important message she wanted to share with the audience. Because Bagel is different from the rest, Karen shares messages of acceptance and how it is okay to be different. Karen, who was bullied as a child says to "never let any disability hold you back.”
Sunglass Cat and her owner, Karen McGill, travel to conventions and other events to meet with guests who all want to meet Bagel who is curled up on a blue blanket on a high table. When the meet-and-greet is nearing its end, one would imagine that Bagel is ready for a nap but fans are still queuing up to see her.
I don't quite know what it was that caught my attention when I came across this article, but all I do know, is that spreading messages of being yourself and learning to accept that we are all different is perhaps something very powerful we can learn from a cat. So, if you are thinking of building your personal brand, you may like to speak to your marketing consultant, or perhaps you might like to take a leaf out of Bagel's book. After all, Sunglasses Cat does have 744k followers on Instagram, so what do I know?