Callie Tiedemann and Monica Brand were looking for something fun to do during the pandemic when they hit on the idea of making dog treats. Both of their families, like so many families, had added a new dog into their families during the pandemic. About a week before Christmas, they made their first dog treats.
At first they used a bow tie cookie cutter to cut their bone-shaped treats; since that time “Santa” brought them actual bone cutters. The cookies are totally edible for humans. Ingredients include oat flour which they make from oatmeal using a blender, unsweetened applesauce, eggs, and natural creamy peanut butter.
Monica is quick to point out that they make sure there are no artificial sweeteners such as xylitol. Monica’s aunt Kelly, who is training to be a dietician, had informed the girls that xylitol was toxic for dogs. The girls fact-checked the information on Google and found that it was indeed correct.
A single batch of the dog treats makes around 35 treats. They are carefully packaged seven to a bag, tied with a purple ribbon, and labeled with their “Furry Friends Bakery” logo. The treats are very consistent in thickness — a sure sign of quality production. They also include a list of ingredients and an expiration date. In case you’re wondering, the treats are fresh for two weeks! Each bag sells for $4.00.
Monica and Callie were producing about 20 batches a week over Christmas break. Each batch uses four cups of oatmeal — the girls went through four large containers of oatmeal. During COVID, they have made some batches over FaceTime while others they have been able to work on together. Callie said she had made four batches in one night alone. The treat dough is dryer than cookie dough and more crumbly; as a result, neither girl prefers to roll the dough. When they work together they take turns mixing the batches and rolling the dough. Sometimes their moms pitch in to help roll the dough.
Callie declared her favorite part of the process is packaging the treats; she enjoys the feeling of accomplishment as she gets them ready for sale.
Sales have been accomplished with the help of their parents, Amy Tiedemann and Andrea Brand, via Facebook and friends. Callie lives in Lewiston where customers can come to her home to pick up the treats; Monica handles the Rushford area sales.
Monica and Callie are considering branching out with their business. They are planning on a yogurt and peanut butter frozen treat for the summer. They are still perfecting sweet potato chews and apple chews using a dehydrator. These treats may need to be refrigerated since the higher moisture content tends to make shelf life much shorter.
In the first month of production the demand for the treats was higher. Now purchases have slowed down and the girls are busier with school. Early on the girls had used a snowflake cutter and a snowman cutter for the treats. They are toying with the idea of creating more seasonal specialties like hearts, chicks, bunnies, eggs, etc. Another possibility is frosting the treats with a pet-friendly frosting. They have already researched that. Cat treats are another possibility, but currently the girls are too busy to expand the business.
Summer will bring more time for the business to expand. A friend has offered that the girls could sell their items at a farmer’s market at her farm. Other local farmer’s markets are an option as well; the girls noted they need to check on the expense before proceeding. They are thinking about making customized doggy bandanas as well.
The girls are philanthropic as all good entrepreneurs are; they are considering donating a portion of their profits to the local Paws and Claws, the place where they got their “COVID” era dogs.
Both Monica and Callie have thoughts and dreams about their futures. Monica wants to have lots of dogs and travel the country with them, driving to see the sights. Callie, commenting that she likes to talk, shared that she would like to teach either first or second grade.
Regardless of what Callie and Monica choose to do in the future, they have already shown they have what it takes to succeed. They work hard, are organized and dedicated, do their research, and take the time to think their ideas through. Kudos to the young entrepreneurs!