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It all started with a love of dogs, fueled by a passion for fashion. A Kansas City dog collar designer sat down with Dogington Post to share her success story.
“I won’t bore you with the familiar old excuse that I couldn’t find anything cute enough for my dog so I started making my own,” said Heidi Schamberger, the adorably petite and spunky designer and creator of k9 closet. “The truth is, my mother-in-law bought me a sewing machine.”
Heidi wondered what to do with her new machine. She had a love for fine fabrics and fun handbags and, she laughs, “I told myself I will never quilt.” Instead, she honed her design and sewing skills by making clothes for her dogs.
“I made a few things for my Chihuahua, Beetle Juice, and they were horrific. I didn’t give up. I would sew all night until I had it right,” she remembers. “After many, many long nights, I finally made the cutest little coat for her. I was so proud of myself I made a few dozen more – and then decided to make collars to match.”
Heidi started selling her handmade dog collars and clothes on eBay and Etsy until they were popular enough that she started her own online store and began selling to local boutiques. She says business was slow to start, but now, twelve years later, it’s grown far beyond her expectations. Her business has moved from a home-based hobby to a full-blown company. That first sewing machine has been replaced with nine state-of-the-art industrial machines.
The mainstay of k9 closet is a huge selection of collars for dogs and cats. Heidi believes that dogs and cats should be fashionable but at the same time they should be safe. Every collar is made with high quality webbing inside for strength and triple-stitched for safety.
When asked what sets her apart from other collar makers, Heidi explains, “Innovation and passion. We don’t just follow the trends – we create them. K9 closet was the first to offer a martingale combo collar. We were the first to line our collars with satin so that no nylon is ever in contact with skin. We created the famous “Smoothie” collar, the softest dog collar in the world. I share my home with my dogs and demand only the best for them. And, obviously, I think they should always look stylish, too.”
Among Heidi’s many collar collections you can find anything to suit your taste. Animal prints? Got it. Sock Monkeys? Yep, a huge hit. Flowers, plaids, hearts, skulls and pigs, oh my! For fancy pups, add a genuine Swarovski crystal buckle and don’t forget to grab a matching leash.
Heidi offers advice for anyone wanting to start a business for dogs. She explains it’s very exciting and rewarding but warns that you have to be patient as it takes time to grow. She also says you should be passionate about pets above all else.
Heidi shows her passion for pets by donating to her favorite charities, which include Wayside Waifs, Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue, Missouri Pitbull Rescue, All About Paws St. Louis, XRUSA Xolo Rescue, and San Diego Italian Greyhound Rescue.
She shares her home with a pack of rescued dogs. Gary, a toy Xoloitzcuintle, a Mexican Hairless dog, is k9 closet’s official mascot, joining her every day while she sews. She says, “He is incredibly smart and loyal,” giving Gary a pat on his black mohawk, “And a little bit rotten!”
Oh, and for the record, she still hasn’t made a quilt.
K9 closet is offering a special coupon code for Dogington Post readers!
Visit www.k9closet.com and enter the code DOGINGTON at checkout for a 25% discount!