Gina Papa started making dog collars from her home as a hobby/side business and quickly realized that she had stumbled upon a unique need in the dog community. Her fun, colorful collars allow dog owners everywhere to express their dog’s personalities – and, of course, their own – while purchasing a necessary canine accessory. Some of these dogs were in need of larger breed collars that are difficult, if not impossible, to find. Gina’s custom made collars were the answer to many a doggie dream.
LaVilla Dog Works became an official business in 2012. As demand grew, Gina began wearing out her small, household sewing machines. The collars she was making were proving to be tougher than they were! The answer – commercial sewing machines.
Fred Henry was working in the telecommunication industry when Gina’s business started to take off. Their original plan was that Gina would make the inventory and Fred would run the business and store front. As the pair researched commercial sewing machines, Gina discovered that the speed and power of the new equipment made her nervous. Fred, on the other hand, loved the new machines. An unexpected twist in their business model occurred at that moment and Fred became the sewing guru while Gina took on the task of understanding how to run their growing enterprise.
Finding a commercial sewing machine that would help to increase production proved costly. Enter CRG and the Microenterprise Grant Program. In 2015, Fred and Gina participated in the required business classes that allowed them to apply for a $25,000.00 Microenterprise Grant through New York State. These funds allowed them to become full time employees of LaVilla Dog Works, purchase a commercial machine that finishes binding the collars and leashes together in record time, and create smiles, wags and slobbery kisses to happy pups and their owners. The classes, too, proved to be of benefit as Gina learned the art of financial management.
LaVilla Dog Works is happily located at 11 South Market Street, Johnstown. Check out their website for store hours and bring your dog by for a little re-tail therapy! www.lavilladogworks.com