Ahmed El Shourbagy (BA ‘08, economics) and Ashley Paguyo El Shourbagy (BA ‘09, journalism) are a husband-and-wife duo who co-run @DogsOfInstagram, a photo project they started just six years ago that curates photos of dogs from all over the world. Today, they have more than 4.5 million followers on Instagram. Three years ago, they began to build on that success, founding Lucy a Co., a business named after their dog, Lucy, where they sell high quality merchandise for dogs.
A decade ago, neither could have predicted where their degrees from the U of M’s College of Liberal Arts would lead them.
“I never anticipated that I would start a career in finance and then, five or six years later, find myself sorting through dog pictures, trying to identify which one is cutest,” says Ahmed.
But they both agree that whatever the formula, it’s working.
“We’ve found that Ahmed’s economics degree and my journalism background have helped us. We’ve found strength in those two similar but different competencies,” says Ashley.
As to how they manage to run the businesses together, Ashley says it’s a matter of teamwork.
“In marriage and in business, we each take on different roles in our relationship,” she says.
“We don’t have really defined roles,” adds Ahmed. “When you have a company this small you really have to wear a lot of hats—some analytical, some creative—and I think having a well-rounded education from the College of Liberal Arts prepared me for that kind of career.”
Ahmed also says that his time at the college gave him an advantage when it came time to start Lucy and Co.
“I actually was able to leverage that network of people who went on to work in advertising, to work in sales, and I think it's really valuable, that network that I built,” he says.
Ashley agrees that taking advantage of the opportunities and the resources that are available at the U of M was key to their success.
“One of the greatest things about going to such a large school, and being a part of a smaller community like the College of Liberal Arts, is that you have the ability to connect with so many different types of people,” she says. “If you take advantage of that, you can really foster some lifelong connections and networks.”
In the end though, for both of them, it’s all about the dogs.
“We recognize the fact that dogs are a universal passion. So it connects us to people all over the world, to all different facets of the human/dog relationship. We’re really privileged to do the work that we get to do each and every day,” says Ashley.
- Arts and Humanities