By Laura McAlister
Priya Mittelmark has always surrounded herself with her puppies, so when her daughter was born, it only seemed natural to dress her little girl in clothes with cute puppies on them.
The only problem: She could find only boy clothes with puppies. She solved that, though, by starting her own clothing line, and she’s helping the furry friends she loves so much at the same time.
Priya recently started Puppy Luv Glam, a girls’ clothing line that features a puppy wearing a tiara adorned with Swarovski crystals as well as the line’s signature saying, “Spoiled and Fabulous.”
A portion of the sales goes to the Shelby County Humane Society and Birmingham’s Two by Two Animal Rescue, organizations very dear to Priya.
“I’ve always been involved with rescues,” said the Miami native. “Even as a little girl I was always bringing stray animals home.
“When I moved here, I saw a huge, huge need. Spay and neuter laws are not as strict here, so I really wanted to ramp up my rescue work.”
Priya almost immediately began volunteering for the two organizations. At the same time, she and her husband Mitch were trying to have a baby, which proved to be difficult for the couple.
“It took a good seven years,” Priya said. “It was hard. The only thing that really kept me going were my rescue dogs. There’s a lot of nurturing done through animals.”
The Mittelmarks finally did have a baby, Elle Mia, three years ago.
When Priya’s search for girls’ clothing with puppies turned up nothing, Mitch told her it was time to stop complaining and create her own clothing line.
It wasn’t that much of a stretch for Priya. She’s no stranger to the fashion industry. In addition to a love for dogs – Priya currently has three rescues and also fosters shelter dogs – she also loves clothes. She worked for some 10 years in various departments of Macy’s while in Miami, so she knew something about the industry.
When it came to her clothing line, she knew exactly what she wanted.
“I of course wanted the puppy, and I wanted some bling with it, so we have the tiara with crystals,” she said. “I put the ‘Spoiled and Fabulous’ on it because I think it’s cute for girls, but I also think rescue dogs, when they find homes, are spoiled and fabulous, too, like they deserve.”
The clothing – which includes T-shirts, tanks, dresses and onesies for infants through juniors, though Priya said she and her friends are known to wear them, too – are sold online, and she also sells them wholesale to retailers throughout the country.
She’s hoping more local boutiques will pick up the line and has plans for a fashion show in the near future. Priya said it would be a time not only to learn about the clothing but also to check out some of the area’s rescues in need of good homes.
Even though she has some out-of-state buyers, Priya said she’s keeping the donations from the sales local with the Shelby Humane Society and Two by Two Animal Rescue.
“These are both just really huge to me,” she said. “Shelby Humane Society does the transport of dogs up north, and that’s where I’m giving the money to them, and Two by Two Animal Rescue is just great.”
Neutering and spaying laws are strict in the northern U.S. and other parts of the country, so there aren’t as many stray dogs in those areas, Priya said. That’s another reason she wanted to keep the donations local.
She said in Birmingham alone, some 1,000 homeless dogs and cats are euthanized each week. Nationwide, about 100 strays are euthanized each hour, she said.
“What I really love about Puppy Luv Glam is it allows you to get and give back,” Priya said. “This is a really important cause to me, and it’s just been so rewarding.”
Priya said kids from the Over the Mountain area stepped in to model the shirts and also to volunteer with the organizations. She said they are always looking for models as well as volunteers for the rescue organizations.
Her friends and neighbors were quick to do what they could to help her start the clothing line, Priya added.
“The Birmingham community has really been so supportive,” she said. “I cannot thank all the folks enough who have helped this succeed.”
As for Priya’s 3-year-old daughter Elle Mia, she loves wearing the shirts, and she also shares her mom’s love for animals, even at this early age.
“My daughter calls them her brothers and sisters,” Priya said of the family’s three dogs. “We all live in one big happy home together.”
For more information on Puppy Luv Glam, visit puppyluvglam.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.