(LONG ISLAND, NY) Starting your own business can be a risky endeavor. It takes capital, initiative and a lot of hard work. I caught up with local business owner Jessica Mashkevich, founder of Kona Benellie and creator of the throwbee who now adds ‘kindness’ to that mix. Jessica, who calls herself ‘chief comfort giver’ gave her company a new direction—using compassion as a compass.
What gave the you idea to start your own company? I created Kona Benellie Designs in 2010 armed with only a scissor and a desire to make people’s lives easier through versatile comfort. A pet-lover to say the least, I named my company after our golden retriever “Kona”. With a mission of comfort for all, I created the first and only 4-in-1 “OmniRobe” (which appeared on the TODAY Show) and the best wearable blanket called the “throwbee blanket-poncho”. I also just launched the “throwbee pet blanket” allowing our pets to enjoy the same throwbee softness as we do.
Jessica’s daughter Ellie
Your company took a new direction recently–can you tell me about that? Upon a recent visit to a local animal shelter to donate supplies and spend time with the dogs, I noticed that the pups had very little to bring them comfort and security in their living space. Concrete floors can be cold and unforgiving, and shelter life is stressful for them. I knew a blanket would instantly bring the dogs security, comfort, and warmth as they await their forever home. In chatting with the shelter employees, I learned that blankets are at the top of most shelter wish lists nationwide. Wanting to help, I immediately evolved my comfort-focused company into a social enterprise and would now match each customer purchase with a new blanket for a shelter dog in need.
Our story of giving becomes our customer’s story of giving and impacts the life of a dog forever. We give a new blanket to a dog in need for every product purchased. Your comfort becomes their comfort.
How did you connect with North Shore Animal League and how can Long Islanders help your initiative? I reached out to Beth Stern (Howard Stern’s wife) who put me in touch with the right people at North Shore Animal League. Beth’s animal-loving efforts are an inspiration. North Shore Animal League is the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization with a national network of shelter and rescue partners. They rescue, nurture and find homes for nearly 20,000 homeless, ailing or neglected animals each year. We are happy to provide them with our blankets on our first “Giving Trip” knowing that this will make an immediate impact in the lives of so many dogs.
Kona Benellie provides people with a great product and an opportunity to do something that matters. We use the same One for One business model as TOMS and aim to make a big impact in the lives of shelter dogs. 6-8 million animals enter shelters each year. Blankets are at the top of shelter wish list. A blanket instantly brings them security, comfort, and warmth as they await their forever home. Together we can make a difference. Your comfort becomes their comfort. To learn more visit: www.konabenellie.com and www.facebook.com/konabenellie