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Fido Goes “Green”
Minneapolis, MN - One local resident has combined a love of pets, a talent for sewing and her “thrifty nature”
into a new business venture creating eco-friendly pet products from her home workshop in Northeast Minneapolis.
In December 2007, Shelley Leeson launched Dog Beds for Less with a line of pet beds,
dog coats and other pet accessories made with recycled, reclaimed and repurposed materials.
Leeson, who has earned part of her living as a professional seamstress for the last 20 years,
said she stumbled upon the idea almost by accident after renovating part of her living space.
“I’d just finished painting, having the floors done and replacing the furniture,” she said.
“When I put the old dog bed back in the living room, I just cringed and thought ‘this looks
terrible in here after all of that work!’”
Leeson said she headed to the local thrift store, which, she said, she frequents often for lower-priced
household goods, in order to find supplies to make a dog bed that would complement her new décor.
Leeson claims that many of the items she finds at the thrift stores are “like new,” and that many items
still have the original store tags on them. “We’re a culture that easily discards things long before they’re
worn out,” she said. “I found a nice pair of designer-quality drapes in a neutral color to use for the dog bed,”
Leeson said, adding, “They looked brand new.”
She said she used the drapes along with some other materials from the thrift store to construct the bed.
“I was so thrilled with the look of my new dog bed,” Leeson said, “and I thought to myself ‘I bet others would
like to have coordinating dog beds, too.’” She said she wasted no time in gathering more “recycled, reclaimed
and repurposed” materials and began constructing piles of dog beds. And, after more “thrift store inspiration,”
soon added dog coats, sweaters and accessories after some experimenting.
“I’m really happy that I’m able to combine all of the things I love,” Leeson said, “pets, sewing and thrift shopping!”
Leeson said she uses direct marketing, word of mouth and her website, www.dogbedsforless.com, to sell her products.
Leeson admits to being thrifty at heart, and said that utilizing recycled products isn’t new for her. Leeson said that
for furniture, cabinetry and other building supplies she can use or repurpose as she renovates her Northeast Minneapolis
home. “My friends and my brother, who’s a general contractor and could probably build anything I wanted, have gotten
used to seeing my ‘recycled creations’ around the house,” Leeson said, “but I feel good about giving new life to things
that other people have discarded.”
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