St. Pete dog mom creates environmentally-conscious monkey toy, giving back to community

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A special, very fluffy dog has inspired a line of environmentally-conscious monkey toys, based out of St. Petersburg.

Megan Novinski is the “Manager of Mutts,” and also the founder and owner of “Minnie’s Monkeys,” named after she and her husband’s pup.

Like many, Novinski is not originally from the Tampa Bay area. She’s originally from North Carolina and admitted to 8 On Your Side that it was “a little lonely” moving to the area.

So after a discussion about getting a dog, her husband wanted “something fluffy” and she wanted “something big.” They ended up becoming parents to Minnie, a Great Pyrenees.

Minnie’s favorite toy is a stuffed monkey, which has been destroyed and dismembered numerous times.

“That’s like her go-to for being chased. She thinks that we want it and loves it so much and she still loves it, and that’s her go-to even after all of the repairs and missing limbs and everything, it’s still there,” Novinski said.

(Courtesy: Minnie’s Monkeys)

Novinski had the ability to create a healthy product to give other dog parents and their pups the same experience.

“Minnie just kind of chose the path of the monkey!” she laughed.

Novinski wanted to create a business that was more than just for-profit, so each monkey toy available is made from up-cycled fabrics and “PlanetFill” stuffing for the monkey’s ‘insides.’ It’s made from post-consumer certified-safe recycled plastic bottles.

“To dye this fabric, we use AZO-free dyes to remove dangerous chemicals that can lead to cancer… Plus, we make sure to only use non-toxic materials and test our toys to ensure they meet safety standards for children’s toys,” Novinski’s website reads.

“So just bringing that all together is really important and then obviously making sure that it’s safe for the dogs is also our top priority. They’re non-toxic and we also make sure that they meet the safety standards for infant and children toys, because they are our fur kids so we want to treat them that way,” she said.

The monkey toys are not yet manufactured in St. Petersburg, but rather, in China, but conditions of where the toys are made are just are important as their quality to Novinski.

“Obviously, anyone being treated poorly who’s making our toys… [is not good,] so we do manufacture them through a certified B corporation… The environment and social impacts are taken into account, the workers are taken into account and the supply chain and input materials are also considered for our toys,” Novinski said.

The product is made in a family-owned boutique factory in Shenzen, China, where the toys are made in small batches.

Through every sale of a Minnie’s Monkeys toy, a portion of the proceeds go back to other animals in need, Novinski confirmed.

She said a total of 25 percent of profits from the “Punk Princess” design of monkey toy (which is available online for $16) goes back to international charities to impact the world.

Every month, Novinski and her friends and followers give back to the Tampa Bay area community, volunteering for a few hours with a local rescue. This month, Fluff Animal Rescue will benefit from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sept. 30.

Those interested in volunteering can visit Minnie’s Monkeys online to register to help.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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