Meet the Team
Hygge, Quality Control Supervisor
Hygge believes that every one of our tees should come with his “stamp” of approval. If your shirt arrives with an orange cat hair on it, you know that it’s passed Hygge’s rigorous inspection!
Hygge was adopted as a kitten and named after the Danish word that means comfort and coziness. While Hygge is the sweetest moosh-ball right before he fully wakes up in the morning, after that is the moment where name similarities end.
Our crazy, ginger feline loves to do zoomies around the house yet stops to examine everything.
You can be rest assured that all products coming from Shelter Swag are quality checked but in the unlikely event that Hygge didn’t catch something please reach out to us and we’ll make it right.
Lil' Roo, Social Media Intern
He knocks over our coffee, can't spell and is so very easily distracted. But as the youngest member
of the team, Lil' Roo is expressive and takes the best selfies so he was a shoe-in for our Social Media Intern!
On one hand he would love to make one of Shelter Swag's posts go viral -- on the other, he would rather distract Hygge by racing back and forth around the office, entice him into a feline wrestling match and end with a good long nap. Maybe that's because he's a bit of a rugged mountain cat by heart (he was found as a stray by Asheville Humane Society) and would rather chase string than likes.
Some of his inspirations are Nala the Cat, Banksy, Kitten Lady and Lil' Bub, who he was partially named after. He would be delighted if you would please follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook and give us a #shelterswag shout out with a photo of you wagging your swag! And because he's still learning the ropes, would also love to hear your suggestions and ideas.
Linda Bak, co-founder
Linda’s first venture into animal welfare was volunteering at a fledgling horse rescue in California. Coming from a business and sales background, Linda knew that in order to get people to not only buy into the mission but also support it, the rescue needed better marketing and communication materials.
She designed a brochure for the rescue’s programs and shirts for the volunteers who wore them proudly out in the community. She started sending regular e-newsletters to volunteers and the local community with updates and heartwarming stories about the rescued horses. Together with the volunteers, she executed a large-scale mission driven expo event and attracted corporate sponsors, the horse community’s trainers and experts, and large donors. With that, Linda had found her calling – she would use her business experience to help homeless animals.
Over the next 10 years, Linda went on to become a successful Development Manager, Director of Development and Philanthropy, Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and consultant for animal welfare nonprofits.
During that time, Linda realized that while most rescues and shelters were using similar programs to save animals, they operated their businesses individually without taking advantage of bulk purchasing, design or marketing. In 2019, Linda decided it was time to help more than one animal group at a time and was inspired to co-found Shelter Swag.
Sharie Lesniak, co-founder
While volunteering with protesters outside an animal circus and each person holding a different hand-made sign, Sharie knew their message would be more effective if they all spoke together with one strategic voice — just like the advertising campaigns she worked on while at one of the top five advertising agencies in the world. That’s where she honed her skills, enticing consumers to buy everything from Gap clothes to Nissan cars to Absolut Vodka, but came to realize her talents could
also help animal advocates more effectively sell their message.
The dot-com crash was the kick Sharie needed to jump in and help animals full time as the Creative Director of a wildlife organization, crafting campaigns and building its brand. When the animal circus came to town this time, a multi-faceted campaign with a single, powerful image and strong message was there to greet them! From TV and radio ads, static and mobile billboards, newspaper ads and press stories as well as protesters all holding the same poster, handing out the same brochure and some, wearing the same T-shirt — all met the animal circus in cities across the U.S. And this time, their single message for the animals could not be ignored!
Sharie continued to use her marketing and creative expertise to help nonprofits, rescues, sanctuaries and shelters build their brands, promote their events and amplify their messages to help save animals. Just what Shelter Swag is built on — helping promote issue-specific marketing in a creative way that puts the “wag” in Swag! This unique business model allows Shelter Swag to help spread the love between numerous nonprofits at once to amplify the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Founding Members Across the Rainbow Bridge
Bradley, Customer Service Manager
Since he was a puppy, Bradley has that smile that can make anything better. Even after he chewed up your most expensive pair of glasses and one of your favorite shoes!
Bradley always wanted to be a professional therapy dog, but never got passed the no-jumping-up to-greet-someone-new, part. His skills include volunteering and acting, as well as sitting with his head resting on your lap for hours and offering whatever comfort you might need (provided you never stop petting him).
Bradley’s passion for people is so strong he will knock over whoever and whatever stands in the way of getting to a potential new friend - or snack! Bradley barely passed Dog Training 101, and after 13 years was still working on his Canine Good Citizen certification.
Our goal is to make sure everyone who deals with Shelter Swag comes away with a smile like Bradley’s.
Clawdette, Chief Financial Queen
Clawdette will always be Shelter Swag’s Chief Financial Queen, as well as the queen of the house. Bradley will attest that nobody messes with the queen.
Clawdette developed her tough-as-nails, scratch-your-face-off demeanor from her first job as a self-employed barn cat. When a life-threatening event brought her inside to heal, Clawdette decided to remain a permanent indoor cat and took over rule of the house. Her minions never question her authority (well, sometimes Hygge did, but Bradley, NEVER).
It just made sense that the 14-year old Clawdette should set up the “Hygge Bank”. Initially, we thought Hygge would be in charge of the bank bearing his name. Then we realized he didn’t have the maturity or ethical disposition required for the job – he would just use the money to buy himself more food.
If you have questions about the Hygge Bank or our work with shelters and rescues, please contact Clawdette’s assistants.