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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Alumna creates collars, gives to animal charity

    Image+by+Tucson+wedding+photographers+Chris+Richards+Photography
    Chris Richards
    Image by Tucson wedding photographers Chris Richards Photography

    You may carry your heart on your sleeve, but your pet carries your heart on its collar. Collar Me Charming sells handmade dog and cat collars and gives a portion of its profits to local organizations, such as the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

    The company was founded by Katie Yaeli, a 2008 UA alumna with a degree in retail and consumer sciences.

    “I combined my passion for creativity and animals,” Yaeli said. “This gave me a way to give back to animals.”

    Yaeli’s company sells collars primarily through its website and Etsy account. With an eye for design and a passion for animals, Yaeli has been successful in creating collars that include bow-ties and flowers. Though they may look dainty, the cotton material collars are hard-wearing.

    “I construct it so it’s a little sturdier than normal bow ties, since it [is] going on a dog,” Yaeli said.

    The collars are made from high quality fabric and are also machine washable. The business has pets wagging their tails around the world, since many customers happen to be international.

    “Canada is a huge avenue for us; they love their dogs,” Yaeli said.

    Collar Me Charming has also shipped to Ukraine, Australia and England. Even animal celebrities have been seen wearing the company’s collars, such as YouTube star Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier.

    Yaeli said she started making collars by dressing up her golden retriever, Cassy, with accessories. After her creativity flourished into a business, her dog Cassy was promoted to a higher position and is now named the CFO, or Chief Furry Officer, of the company.

    Starting a company that’s based on a passion takes a lot of experience. Yaeli explained she had worked with animals in a veterinarian office her freshman year, which fueled her compassion for animals. In 2007, she interned at Gadabout salon.

    “I did an independent study where I specialized in product design,” she said.

    Her work with Gadabout consisted of designing styling bottles for the company, which gave Yaeli experience with visual merchandising.

    Yaeli said the encouragement and support in founding the business came from her husband, Michael Yaeli, who praised her idea from the start. Lexi Danielson, the designer for Collar Me Charming, has also provided ideas and inspiration, Yaeli said.

    She added that even though running a business founded in her passion seems risky, it’s the risks that determine if an endeavor is truly worth it.

    “I think you have to take chances,” she said. “I wanted to be my own boss.”

    Since the retail industry is small and competitive, especially in a location such as Tucson, the creation of a successful business such as Collar Me Charming took a combination of Yaeli’s education and work experience.

    “I believe that my education helped me in learning about consumer behavior,” Yaeli said. “Step-by-step, it slowly started up.”

    In the future, Yaeli said those at Collar Me Charming would like to build the company up toward merchandising its products. She said the collar demand is high, and manufacturing is a possibility at this point. Since Yaeli and her husband are currently expecting a baby in April, designing children’s clothes is also a future possibility.

    “This is a way for me to do what I love to do,” Yaeli said, “and also help out animals at the same time.”

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