Bling gives pet items zing

Florida woman's firm selected to sell wares at showcase event

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- In just a few weeks, at an event that celebrates the iconic Westminster Kennel Club's annual All Breed Dog Show, a shelter dog will model doggie bling designed and hand-crafted by Mona Straub of Boca Raton, Fla.

Straub is one of 30 exclusive participating vendors in the upcoming New York Pet Fashion Show on Feb. 8 that launches a weekend of events leading to the famous annual dog show that following Monday.

It's a coup for Just Fur Fun, the online startup Straub launched two years ago to sell her hand-crafted beaded leashes and collars for pets. "I've gotten as far as I have because I make connections and utilize resources," said Straub. "As a small business, if you become an island and don't reach out, you'll get lost."

The pet fashion show receives hundreds of booth requests every year from pet-related startups to established companies, says Richard Cordero, marketing director for the show and vice president at Oehler Media Inc. and ad director for Cesar's Way Magazine, a major sponsor of the show.

The show has a two-fold purpose: Featuring shelter dogs on its runways is one example of its charity outreach, and a huge draw, attracting more than 1,000 attendees, says Cordero.

For an investment of more than $1,300, including table, shipping and product samples for VIP bags, Straub will showcase her collars and leashes, including on a shelter dog during its appearance in one of three runway shows featured that evening.

Straub launched her second career several years ago after leaving her corporate marketing job because she wanted to be creative in a meaningful way and give back to the community, she says.

She buys made-in-America materials, such as the leather that forms the base for her products, from U.S.-based vendors. She manufactures locally, employing about six bead artisans who fulfill her pattern designs for the pet bling.