Toys with a
Pet Business: Tell us about OoMaLoo.
How/when did the company get started?
What inspired you to get into the pet toy business?
Mustafa Koliva: We actually started the company in 2006 in order to provide an American
company to market pet products in the U.S.
We had been working with our family in Turkey to
manufacture pet products for several years and felt it
was time to break into the U.S. market.
Our first pet toy was created by accident. At the time, my wife, son
and I were living in Turkey. We had a beautiful Kangal named Jango.
My sister made a cat toy for my son, who was two years old at the time.
The dog stole it and kept it for his own.
We realized that, with a few modifications, we could make great toys for
dogs. Since then, we’ve been working
to create a unique line of handmade
PB: What sets your pet toys apart from
other products on the market?
What are some of the most
important features of your
Koliva: First of all, I think our
toy designs are whimsical,
unusual and fun. They catch
the eye with color, texture
and shapes. And of
course, we are the only
handmade toy on the
market, so no two toys
are exactly the same. I
As for important features, there are several. The yarn we use—what
we call ‘funky fur’— creates a great texture for animals to play with. Our
custom-made squeaky balls are also unique to our toys and very du-
rable. Overall, even though our toys look and feel soft, they are actually
quite durable (and washable).
PB: Your company has a unique international social impact. Can you
please tell us a bit about that impact and your motivation?
Koliva: Even though I am proudly an American, I am Turkish and all of
my family still lives in Turkey. I grew up in a small village near the Black
Sea, where my parents had cleared the forest and created a large
hazelnut farm. As a young man, I moved to Istanbul and eventually built a small house for
my parents in what was then the outskirts of
the city. The people in that area were mostly
poor, uneducated village people, like my parents.
Although things are changing and improving rapidly for the younger generation, most of the women in that area
have no more than a fifth-grade education. They are wives and mothers
in a culture (especially in their socioeconomic group) still dominated by
men. Because of their responsibilities
at home and limited skills, they do
not have many opportunities to earn
When we looked to increase manufacturing, we were committed to employing these women, and we have
stayed committed to employing them.
Mustafa Koliva, president of OoMaLoo, discusses how his company’s
handmade toys enrich the lives of not only pets, but also women in need.