Photography by Jessie Caballero.

If you’re ever on TikTok, you’ve seen them. Puppets that look like an oversized bumblebee or a shy ghost. The page Ragmop & Goose has even tiptoed into the ad space, with a Kate Spade commercial full of the puppet’s silly antics.

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The seeds of inspiration for Ragmop & Goose were born right here in Lake Highlands. Gus Renaud, co-founder and husband of the duo behind the account, grew up going through Scofield Christian School. While there, he became interested in acting, and never forgot the marionette and puppet shows hosted at the State Fair of Texas that he enjoyed as a child.

“Before we came into each other’s lives, we both had an interest in puppets and puppetry, but it wasn’t at the forefront for us,” Jessie Caballero, Gus’ wife and co-founder, says.

The pair met in 2015, and within the first year that they started dating, the pair envisioned creating a puppet show, dreaming of the puppets that filled ‘90s television shows.

Jessie and Gus met in Los Angeles, where he moved after college.

Even without TikTok, you may have seen the pair on TV or on the news. They made headlines first on the way to their wedding, when their refurbished SUV overheated and nearly sent the pair over a cliff. A GoFundMe page that an acquaintance made for the couple was shared by celebrities like Sophia Bush and Kate Walsh, and the rest is history.

In the years following, Jessie ran a photography business, while Gus bartended between acting jobs. In their free time, they’d make puppets with fur and pingpong balls for nieces and nephews — or their parents who’d end up taking them for themselves.

“Seeing some of our friends’ inner child come out more, the love of puppets is still there,” Jessie says. “It’s fun to share with others and our friends and family.”

During the pandemic, Jessie was unable to do wedding photography and Gus was unable to bartend or act, so their love of puppets resurfaced.

“I locked myself in my art studio and started making new puppet characters and started a YouTube channel,” Jessie says. “Then TikTok started to become a thing.”

Going back to their roots, Jessie remembered her childhood nickname — Ragmop — which her dad lovingly called her due to her curly, frizzy hair that he said reminded him of a mophead. Gus was called Goose, a silly mispronunciation of his name that stuck with him.

Jessie made the now-signature ghost marionette and the pair filmed a video that led to around 30,000 followers by the end of the week. Now, that video has over a million views.

Jessie began making puppets to list for “adoption” and having Gus pose them for photos.

“Being the natural performer that he is, he started making voices for them and characters and it was cracking me up,” she says. “I was like, ‘OK, I need to record this,’ so I set up a video camera and posted some of those photos on TikTok and those took off.”

The first batch of puppets set up for “adoption” were sold out within seconds.

“I went to Gus and I was like, ‘I think we should join forces,’” she says. “‘Let’s lean into this and see where it takes us. You perform with the characters, I’ll make them, we’ll run this little adoption agency and make content online.’”

The duo shot their first music video in a room “smaller than a one-car garage” and began bringing the puppets out in public.

Ragmop & Goose have now made puppet orders in every U.S. state and every continent.

“It’s putting physical play back in kids’ hands, and then also bringing out the inner child of adults,” Jessie says.

Recently, the duo did a commercial for Kate Spade for TikTok and Instagram.

“We had to plant little flowers and wrap them around little stakes in the ground to make it look like they were in a flower field,” Jessie says.

Looking toward the future, they aim to do more production-oriented projects like the commercials and music videos while continuing the puppet adoptions.

“We want to keep it a very boutique experience,” Jessie says. “We want [the puppets] to be handmade because that’s what makes them so special.”