“Traditionally, the pet industry wasn’t very cool, especially the products available for larger dogs,” explains Ana, the owner of Paco Collars. With her line of handcrafted leather collars and leashes, Ana is looking to change that, one pet at a time.
Paco Collars is located in Berkeley, California, and is part artists’ workshop, part retail store, and part classroom. Ana and her employees craft high-quality collars and leashes right in the shop, as well as hosting classes in leatherwork.
Ana started her business in 2002 after she began getting requests from friends for collars similar to the one she had made for her own dog, Paco. “A business adviser suggested that I make the designs and send them to be manufactured in China,” she says, “but that was the opposite of what I wanted to do. I was excited to create jobs for artists, and to keep the manufacturing process local.”
Ana now employs five part-time workers, and calls in extra help for big orders. However, as demand for her products has increased, She has had trouble finding financing to buy new machines because she doesn’t have an established credit history. A $1,000 loan from Opportunity Fund will allow her to purchase new supplies to boost her inventory and, at the same time, build a credit history for future loans. “You can’t make money unless you can process money,” she says, “but you can’t process money unless you have a line of credit. A company needs it’s own line of credit – this loan is pivotal.”
In the future, Ana would like to see a branch of Paco Collars open in New York City. “Our goal is to create a brand within the pet industry. We want to build the most responsible, ethical company we can, sticking to the things we believe in, but bigger.”
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