MODESTO — A bed made for their daughter 10 years ago turned into a business for Samuel and Joanna de Lemos. And that, in turn, turned into another business. And that explains why a custom dog bed for singing star Britney Spears sat in the couple's Ceres living room Friday afternoon.
"We've been making children's beds since 2003," Joanna de Lemos said. "But dog beds are the next big thing."
They were husband-and-wife art teachers when Samuel made a princess canopy bed for their then-2-year-old daughter. Someone told him he should try to sell the beds. He posted a photo on eBay, and a business was born.
"Eight thousand beds later, here we are," Samuel de Lemos said. That daughter is now 13; the couple have another daughter, as well as five boys none of whom got canopy beds, of course.
The most recent trend in dog beds matches them with those of their young owners. The de Lemoses are busy year-round, but two periods are the most hectic: "Christmas and tax time," Joanna de Lemos said.
The couple put the beds together in a Modesto warehouse. In addition to their own websites, they sell through wholesalers around the country and have shipped their products around the world.
One of those wholesalers led to their most recent famous customer.
Spears was shopping at an online dog couture shop and came across the couple's dog bed designs. She selected a pink and white number for her tiny pooch, Hannah.
When the order came in, Samuel called his wife and told her he had a big one. She thought he meant in terms of price, as she'd once landed a $5,000 sale. She didn't know that he meant "big" in terms of celebrity.
Beds such as the one that Spears chose for Hannah start at $399. Beds for human princesses go for a bit more. For the pop star, the couple also made her a custom box bearing her last name and decoupaged décor to match the dog bed.
Not that Spears is their first high-profile customer. The couple's beds have been featured on the television show "Toddlers and Tiaras," and at one point they had an order from a certain high-profile family in New York.
"We got an order from the Gambinos," Samuel de Lemos said. "I said, 'We can't mess this one up.' "
Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.