Ana Poe's hand crafted leather gear is built to last a lifetime

By Janet Kinosian
Updated March 08, 2010 12:45 PM

Shopping for your pooch should never be depressing. But that’s exactly how Ana Poe felt when she searched for a suitable sturdy, studded collar for her newly rescued pit bull, Paco, back in 2002.

“Everything I saw was either cheaply made or was covered in spikes – and I had enough people crossing the street when they came upon Paco and me,” laughs Poe, who has an art degree from UC Berkeley and whose studio and new storefront are also in the same city on Shattuck Avenue. “I thought, ‘I can probably do better than this.’ ”

So, when Paco was just about one year old, Poe started making her own leather leashes and collars, at first for friends and then for various customers at the doggie day care in Emmeryville, Calif., where she was employed. Now, her adorable rescued pit bull is the mascot for Paco Collars, her own business which hand crafts some of coolest leather dog collars around.

The collars themselves, are wonderous: bold, beautiful and sometimes even a bit brash. There’s the The Hola Lola or The Boodles, The Xdog or the Ruadh. Most of these styles are named after real dogs and there’s a large photo gallery of Paco-collared up pooches. They range in price from $40 to $150, but most hover around the $80 mark.

The company also makes handcrafted leather leashes, harnesses, as well as various people products, such as belts and cuffs. “We have a good many people ordering bracelets to match the design of the dog,” she says.

Poe loves working with the leather but even more loves matching the perfect collar to each dog’s unique personality, “and when you throw the human’s personality in there, it’s really fun,” she says. “At Paco Collars’ we’re adamant that the collar must be an absolute perfect match and that it’s the dog collar for the animals’ lifetime.”

Sadly, her beloved Paco died unexpectedly in January of 2009 and Poe says his presence is deeply missed though his spirit is still the company’s guiding light. Her new dog, Xochitl, who hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, and has taken up much of the photographic and marketing duties with equal adorableness.

“We strive for something in between Levi and Chanel,” says Poe, referring to Paco Collars’ unique market niche. “We’re stylish like Chanel but durable like Levi. And that makes us a stand out in the market. It brings me such joy when I see the exact right collar on a dog. It’s their daily outfit, after all.”