How do you start your day?
Taking my 4 dogs out then looking at my to-do list in order to plan my day.
Who inspires you?
Anyone with a positive can-do attitude. It’s hard to stay upbeat today so anyone who constantly remains happy and positive inspires me to do the same.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Don’t compare your bloopers to someone else’s highlight reel.
What do you need to get you through each day?
Love and Dogs. That will get you through anything.
Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.
Brownie’s Barkery is an all natural dog treat company made with human grade ingredients and no sugar or preservatives added. These treats are good enough for people to eat but meant for your dogs! My dog Brownie was my inspiration. I developed the business after making her birthday cake and treats for her first birthday party. She and all of her dog friends loved them, so I decided to try out the idea.
How has your passion fueled your business?
My love for dogs is who I am, so coming up with ideas or sales pitches, treat names, or display comes easily. It’s nice because my business is a reflection of who I am.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? I’ve always wanted to be one. My parents owned a business growing up and I wanted to be like them. I didn’t know what kind of business until it dawned on me after Brownie’s first birthday party.
What was the tipping point for realizing you had a good business?
It took a while, but sales slowly kept increasing. The continual growth was an obvious factor but I think I really felt we had a good business was when I began to have repeat customers. To me that meat they not only tried us, but they liked us enough to come back for more.
What has been the key to your success?
Persistence. Things get hard, and the competition comes and goes, but if you continue doing what you do best and enjoy yourself, you’ll still be standing once the dust settles.
What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career?
Everyone is learning as they go. No one knows everything. But everyone knows something. Ask questions to your fellow vendors, and be willing to adapt to changes as they come.
What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?
I went to college for Business Marketing, and although the things I learned definitely came in handy, I’m pretty sure that type of knowledge didn’t pertain to starting and running a business. Or perhaps I wasn’t paying enough attention in class!
That being said, my biggest challenge was not actually knowing how to run a business. I did have parents, however, who supported me, and I possessed the ability to “figure things out” while still working a full time job. I also asked vendors, researched laws, and incorporated trial and error tactics so my idea became more solid and eventually an actual business.
What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business to date and how did you pull through it?
Unlike most businesses mine actually made money its first year, and continues to do so, of course. Not to say our expenses didn’t increase as well, but ultimately most businesses fail the first 5 years before showing a profit—but mind did not. As awesome as that sounds I’m still not making as much profit as I should be or want to be. We reached a point where the business had plateaued.
We lowered our cost to increase the profit margin, and increased our prices to be more competitive with what’s on the market. Both things helped but still we were at a standstill. Then it hit me after getting an idea from other vendors I worked with. So our most recent product launch, that just happened this month, will hopefully be the thing that helps propel us forward again, getting us off the plateau.
What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur?
That, after all this time and hard work we may not earn as much profit as needed in order to pay everyone involved what they deserve. We all started out working for free and eventually all started earning money. But it needs to be enough money that all of us can live comfortably in the end.
What aspects of being a start-up entrepreneur do you like or dislike?
I love making my own schedule but I don’t enjoy working around the clock because it’s hard to make the decision to “clock out.” When you own the business you can never really clock out.
What has been your best strategy for selling your product or service and what have you learned along the way?
We make a quality product but want to compete with big box chain stores like Walmart and Petco and Petsmart. It’s hard to do, and usually it’s quantity or quality—not both. We’re trying to make a quality product that’s inexpensive enough that consumers want to buy them on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. We don’t want to be the “only on special occasion” cookie, we want to be the “everyday goodness” cookie. That being said I’ve learned it’s a slower climb to the top because our profit margin is lower due to higher quality ingredient costs, and lower price point to compete with those larger stores.
How did your experiences in the corporate world prepare you for entrepreneurship, or not?
Working in corporate America is what keeps me motivated to make my business work! Not only do I remember feeling stressed out, and anxious, and like I sold my soul at points to make sales, but hearing all my family and friends horror stories about their jobs, and their bosses, makes me realize I NEVER want to work for someone else again.
What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/ business owner can possess?
The woman power mentality. Being a strong, capable, “I can do anything” woman helps carry you through the hard times.
What do you do outside the office to help you stay creative/productive?
Play with Dogs, love Dogs, get outside and experience nature, and always keep my eyes open for ideas. Don’t be afraid of speaking up- but also learn to listen. It’s a great skill to be able to listen and quickly understand what others need or want.