PLACIDA — Karen Nielsen’s business has gone to the dogs — since making dog collars is her specialty.
The South Gulf Cove resident makes customdesigned pet accessories such as collars, leashes and harnesses and sells them at the Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts market.
“For eight years, we had a therapy dog named Tux,” Nielsen said. “We used to have her at hospitals and she would bring smiles to people’s faces.”
One reason why Tux made people smile was the designer accessories Nielsen created for her.
“I started making collars and leashes for holiday occasions,” Nielsen said. “Some friends and families asked me to make accessories for them.”
Nielsen used the Placida Market to test the level of demand for her creations in a retail setting and the result was good.
“We do a lot of orders for business, especially for the snowbirds,” she said.
Nielsen goes through the creative process with her client from start to finish.
“The product is so custom,” she said.
She pre-washes cotton fabrics before she turns them into collars and leashes. They often contain nylon webbing, rugged fabric and decorative trims. For the bridal designs, she uses lace. She also makes matching accessories for owners — key rings, doggie doorbells, eyeglass holders, tissue cases and T-shirts to match any collar or leash. The accessories also work for cats, she says.
David Penticoff owns three Shih Tzus and is a fan of Nielsen’s products.
“We have at least four harnesses per dog,” he said. “Some are maritime designs. Some have paws, bones and dragonflies. We got one with pink butterflies. She has very competitive prices.”
Nielsen said she likes the community feeling of the Placida market.
“We kind of support each other,” she said. “It’s nice that it’s free. We just enjoy going there. Even if you have a bad day of sales, it’s enjoyable with the Florida weather and atmosphere.”
For more information, email ppyluv@ embarqmail.com, or call 732-547-8414.
The Placida Saturday Arts and Crafts Market will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and almost every other Saturday through April on the grounds of the Fishery restaurant, 13000 Fishery Road, Placida. Parking and admission are free, and artists can display their work there for free. For market information, call 941-697-2451.