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The Pink Samurai: Friday Friend-spiration! Shannon Matula of Muttgarita Hut

The Pink Samurai

Friday, April 05, 2013

Friday Friend-spiration! Shannon Matula of Muttgarita Hut

So, I'm lucky enough to know a lot of really cool people that are a constant inspiration to me.  I wanted to take some time each week to share some of their amazing stories and insights.  Shannon and I worked together for about 2 years before she struck off on her own.  I'm so proud of my friends who have taken the plunge and gone into business for themselves!   Muttgarita Hut is a state of mind...and escape for dogs.  Just like people benefit from vacations, so can their pups.  Read on and learn more about this super fun company!  

Shannon Matula of Muttgarita Hut

How did your passions for rescue dogs and sunny beaches come together?
My rescue dog, Kaya inspired a lot of this b/c I wanted to help dogs far less fortunate than her. I started thinking of how dogs are so much more than pets; they're a family member, almost like your child. So, they deserve to be pampered too and they need an escape too! The tropical side of things came from my love for warm weather and the beach. I always used to say, "I would live in a hut on the beach and be perfectly happy." So, I guess you can say I meshed both loves and concepts together. A lot of my inspiration also came from Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. His music, concerts and restaurants are a state of mind, a destination. Whether you're escaping the mental blues or winter blues, the point is, you're escaping. So, I thought... why not do the same for dogs? And that in a nutshell is how Muttgarita Hut came to life!

What can a dog-owner expect from a Muttgarita Hut party?
I don't have host parties at this time. However, funny you should say that b/c that is actually one of my ideas. I've always loved party planning and I can already imagine a Muttgarita Hut dog party now  (So fun!) So, maybe I will offer that down the road and either come throw the party for them or sell the supplies for them to throw it themselves.

Your own dog, Kaya, is adorable!  Can you tell us a bit about you found each other?
Aw thanks ;) Absolutely; I love telling this story! I just graduated from college in Pittsburgh and knew I would be living alone for the first time, so I said to myself, "I'm getting a dog." (My parents thought I was nuts at the time and didn't condone me getting one right out of school. But now they adore her and call her their "grand-dog!" haha)  I knew I wanted to adopt so I began searching at shelters in Ohio and Pittsburgh. I also knew I wanted a big dog and one that had Shepherd in it b/c I love Shepherds; they are so loyal and I grew up with a few as well. I found one from a no-kill shelter in Salem, Ohio that I fell in love with online.... her name was Stella. Her eyes in the picture were enough to melt your entire heart! I called and they said she was already taken; I was so disappointed and stopped looking for awhile. I remember vividly a few weeks later, the shelter called me and asked, "Are you still interested in Stella?" I said, "I'll be right there!" ;) So, I drove from Pittsburgh to Salem, Ohio and met her for the first time. She came running at me, her paws much bigger than her body (haha) She was incredibly sweet and laid her head in my lap. Needless to say, I took her home that day! I named her Kaya b/c I love Bob Marley and one of his CDs was named Kaya and it was also one of my favorite tropical restaurants in the Strip District in Pittsburgh. I thought it was so pretty and non-traditional. It fits her so well too; she's so lady-like and such a little diva.  I've had her for 7 years now and she's become like my left arm. She's been through everything with me my adult life; all of my moves to different cities, all my different jobs, break-ups, heartaches and triumphs. She is truly my joy!! 

After working for larger companies, what gave you the courage to strike out on your own?
It's been a lifelong dream and goal of mine to own my own business. You could almost say it's genetic! My mom owned her own business for over 30 years, my aunt was her business partner, my grandfather has owned several companies of his own, and my grandmother (believe it or not) was a professional sports agent; the very first in the NBA in fact!! They all were my role models and I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps; I just no idea what it would be. 

I decided to take the leap of faith after 3 years of working at LivingSocial. (It was not only the best job I've ever had, but it was one of the highlights of my life! It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.) It was an incredibly difficult decision to say the least. I lost sleep over it and worried every day, "was I making a huge mistake?" But I realized it became my catalyst. Working for a start-up and working along side some of the most motivated and passionate people I have ever had the privilege of working with, inspired me to finally take the big plunge! 

What's up next for you and Muttgarita Hut?
I'm actively involved as a vendor at local events and pet expos in the Ohio area. I have two coming up in April; Eastwood Mall Pet Expo in Niles, Ohio and Fun & Fur Event hosted by Love-A-Stray in Avon Lake, Ohio. (I've also done several in DC, and am willing to travel to do more.) Currently, it's exclusively an online business; our warehouse where we package and ship everything is located in Canfield, Ohio. (My hometown and where my parents still live.) However, my vision is to create an actual destination for dogs. Think of an indoor dog park with pools, palm trees, self-dog wash, a dog bar and maybe even BYOB for owners so everyone can experience a get-a-way! Stay tuned :)

Be sure to check out Muttgarita Hut's websitefacebook and pinterest!

And visit at their upcoming events!
Eastwood Mall Pet Expo in Niles, OhioSaturday & Sunday - April 6-7 - 10am-6pm & 10am-5pm
Fur Event hosted by Love-A-Stray in Avon Lake, OhioSunday - April 29th - 10:30am-1:30pm

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