Leatherworker Aaron Mitchell helps Shop Dog Kai model a Paco Collar. Photos: Robert A. Mills

By Robert Mills

Fashion never sleeps, and it certainly doesn’t stop at your wardrobe. Luckily, the folks at Paco Collars have another way to accessorize – custom, hand-made collars for your dog, cat and pretty much anything else that looks good in leather.

That’s the way things are at Paco Collars– fewer rules and regulations, more fun times and innovation. Many of the designer collars in the company catalog were inspired by pet owners who came into the shop for a specific look they dreamt up the night before.

The people at Paco Collars welcome new ideas. In fact, they love when customers bring in their own collar schemes, rewarding them with an eternal spot in the product line named after the pet or owner for whom it was crafted.

“We encourage people to stop by and come in with their dogs,” leatherworker Aaron Mitchell said, adding that people often swing by when they’re out for a walk.

Rachel Lewin was one of those people. During an afternoon stroll through Berkeley, she spotted Paco Collars and knew she had to return with her pooch.

Customer Rachel Lewin and Taj try out different looks

“I came by one day and was like O-M-G,” Lewin said laughing. “And I was like, ‘Taj, when you grow up…’ ”

“A lot of customers have said the same thing like, ‘when you grow up, I’m going to get you a collar from Paco.’ ” Mitchell said. “They’ll come in with their shelter dogs once they’re fully grown and get one.”

For Lewin, buying a Paco collar for her dog, Taj, was a no-brainer.

“I just love hand-made stuff,” Lewin said.

Along with the business of collars, the Berkeley dog boutique works in collaboration with Bad Rap – a Bay Area non-profit organization dedicated to reeducating people about detrimental pit-bull myths.

Ana Poe founded Paco Collars in 2002, naming the business after her deceased pit bull. She started out small, with an online business out of her home, and has since moved into the shop on Shattuck Avenue near the Ashby Avenue intersection. Paco Collars has remained there for almost three years, providing a friendly atmosphere and a lifetime guarantee.

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