““I was amazed there was even a product out there to help people like me””
—Ana, Paco Collars
Unable to find a stylish leather collar for Paco, a friendly pitbull, Ana Poe created Paco Collars - a place to buy high-quality, fashionable leather goods. Opportunity Fund's $5,000 loan helped get her business off the ground.
Following a Dog and a Dream
Ana Poe started Paco Collars while serving as head trainer in a dog day care facility, where she worked with Paco, a certified therapy dog and the inspiration behind her custom-made leather dog collars. Ana wanted a leather collar for Paco that wasn't decked out in spikes or chains. She was disappointed to only find designs that didn't fit Paco's personality as a friendly pitbull. “I couldn’t find anything that I liked that wasn’t also decked out in spikes,” she said. Seeing a gap in the market for high-quality, fashionable leather goods for pets, Paco Collars was born.
While Ana possessed the ideas and creativity, finding the funding necessary to get Paco Collars off the ground was a challenge. After trying some traditional alternatives—and some not so traditional ones—she learned about Opportunity Fund from her husband, who had received financing from the CDFI to expand his robotics startup in San Francisco. She came to Opportunity Fund initially for a $5,000 loan to build her business. Having never received financing before, Ana was able to establish her business credit through her Opportunity Fund loan. “I was amazed that there was even a product out there to help people like me,” she said.
Later, as Paco Collars continued to grow and generate buzz, she received a huge order that required purchasing a large amount of materials and supplies. “When I got the first loan [from Opportunity Fund], I wasn’t necessarily looking to expand,” she said. “But sure enough, a year later we had a massive order from Italy that we needed to fill. Before, we didn’t have the capital to buy the parts before getting paid for the products. Now, we can able secure parts other companies don’t have. It makes our brand more exclusive.”
Easier with EasyPay
Ana came back to Opportunity Fund for a $10,000 loan and became the first recipient of our newest microlending innovation, an EasyPay loan (which was featured in Entrepreneur magazine). EasyPay allows small businesses to pay back their loans bit-by-bit, taking a small percentage of each credit and debit card sale they make, rather than a fixed monthly payment.
"I love how I can pay the loan sooner when we're doing great on sales, and won't be dinged for not paying as much later, because they're basing the loan on our average monthly sales" said Ana.
Today, Paco Collars is both a brick-and-mortar shop in Berkeley, as well as a successful online retailer. You can browse the handmade items for your pet, which include ladigo leather collars, tags and harnesses that are all built to last a lifetime.