UCSB alumna Jennifer Beinke pawed her way into the online business world this past summer with Kiss My Mutt, a specialized pet accessory line.

Beinke graduated from UCSB with a communications major in June 2009 with the intent of pursuing a career in the media. After a year working in that direction, Beinke branched out and put her two passions for dogs and design into reality with the launch of Kiss My Mutt.

“I was really interested in working in the news industry as a producer and writer, and even interned at two television news stations, KEYT in Santa Barbara and KTVU in Oakland,” Beinke said in an online interview. “At the time there weren’t too many doors opening up for me in the news industry, so instead of waiting for a job to find me, I decided to start my own business.”

With the help of her family, Beinke turned her enterprise into a business that has been featured in numerous publications including Dog Fancy, OK! Magazine, British Vogue, Natural Dog and the Santa Barbara News Press.

Beinke said her sudden redirection from pursuits in the media industry to dogs and designs can be largely accredited to her childhood pets.

“I have really fond memories of growing up with my two family dogs, Rocky and Cody,” Beinke said. “They taught me to love dogs, and were truly members of the family.”

This love for dogs furthered Beinke’s hope to use Kiss My Mutt to one day open up her own non-profit organization for abandoned dogs. Last summer, Kiss My Mutt began supporting Santa Barbara’s K-9PALS Animal shelter dog wash at Hendry’s Beach, an event that raised about $2,000 for the canine food and medical bills.

“I’m really passionate about helping animals, and I can’t wait until I can make this division of the company a reality,” Beinke said.

Additionally, Kiss My Mutt places an emphasis on green products such as their eco-friendly dog beds. Beinke hopes to eventually extend Earth-friendly concepts to her entire product line.

Beinke attributes much of her success to continual support from her family. Her mother, Barbara Beinke, a consultant for Kiss My Mutt, often advises Beinke in business matters.

“I always encourage my children to take a career path that makes them happy,” Barbara Beinke said via e-mail. “I knew Jennifer would make Kiss My Mutt a success, and after being open for just seven months, she has grown the business to become a major player in pet industry.”

Beinke’s sister — Kristen Beinke, a Brooks Institute of Photography graduate and Santa Barbara resident — is the photographer for the business.