It's a question Carol Copple had also asked herself. The answer she came up with: Beastly Furnishings, a company she launched two years ago. "People absolutely adore their pets and want to spoil them," says Copple, 50, whose line of pet proportioned sofas, daybeds, pillows, chaises and sleeping bags—made from quality fabrics like damask and velvet and ranging in price from $150 to S475—are the cat's meow. Sold through the Horchow catalogue, at Nieman Marcus and on the Net (www.beastlyfurnishings.com), the furniture generated $500,000 in sales last year. Mariah Carey and Jenna Elfman each paid close to $400 for chaises for their pooches, while 'N Sync's Chris Kirkpatrick bought an animal-print daybed for one of his pugs. "My dog absolutely loves his chaise," says Pam Crowe, a Denver housewife. "We drag it from room to room."
Catering to critters comes naturally to Copple. The second of four children of Carroll Garnett, 81, a former FBI agent, and his wife, Cornelia, 77, a retired nurse, Carol grew up in a house full of pets in Falls Church, Va. "We had everything—crabs, fish and a baby egret," she recalls. In 1972, while Carol was attending Northern Virginia Community College, her father was transferred to Omaha, uprooting the family. A year later, while taking classes at the University of Nebraska, Carol met radiologist Ben Copple, now 59. The couple, who wed in 1974, have two sons, Bradley, 24, a podiatry student in Chicago, and Ryan, 18, a freshman at the University of Arizona. Between domestic duties, Copple went back to school herself. After graduating from Nebraska in 1979, she became an interior designer, working I with an architect before breaking out g on her own.
Over the next decade Copple dabbled in a variety of ventures, including a line of pig-themed trash cans. But she shelved her career in 1992, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. After six weeks of radiation therapy, the cancer went into remission. The tumor, half its original size, is closely monitored. "Statistically, it could come back at any time," says Copple, "but I believe I am cured. I don't feel I'm going to die."
An energized Copple returned to interior design soon thereafter. "Her illness intensified her mission," says friend Tom Vaccaro. "She became more focused." Decorating the home of an Omaha businessman and his wife in 1997, Copple noticed the couple "had silk pillows and custom rugs, but no furniture that looked good for their dogs. A lightbulb went off in my head." After months of work on a sofa prototype, she sold the furniture at a trade show and soon set up shop. Now she and her recently retired husband, plus one employee, run the business from the basement of the Copples' sprawling Omaha home, where their pugs Iris, Pepper and Magnolia serve as product testers.
While cats and dogs are Beastly Furnishings' best customers, Copple occasionally caters to more exotic clientele, including a Capuchin monkey, for whom she made a leopard-print sofa. But not only pets are resting more comfortably with Copple's creations. Says customer Lola Anderson, of San Rafael, Calif.: "My Doberman is not allowed on my leather couch anymore."
Grant Pick in Omaha