By Dan Nielsen The Record-Eagle, Traverse City, Mich.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Ginger Taibl is quickly growing her natural pet food business called "Pets Like It Fresh." During product development, she made sure to test out her baked treats on her trio of canines: two French bulldogs and an English bulldog.
Ginger Taibl has worked cleaning houses for 24 years -- five days a week, eight hours a day, four houses a day.
In her spare time, she developed a range of cleaning products under the "Ginger Clean" name, then sold that business.
Now she's launching a new enterprise: Pets Like It Fresh Dog Bakery LLC. She perfected her recipe in her home kitchen from apples, carrots, flax and honey. Bags of her creations appeared on shelves at a pair of local businesses in August. Sales have been brisk.
Taibl always has loved animals. She owns horses, which she enjoys riding when she has time, and a trio of canines: two French bulldogs and an English bulldog. The bulldogs tested her baked treats and helped her perfect the recipe.
Other dogs that live at the houses she cleans also enthusiastically helped test the product.
"I have dogs chase me down" at clients' homes for the treats, Taibl said.
Cleaning homes has been a good gig, and has helped support Taibl and her family since she moved to the area two decades ago. But she's preparing for change.
"In a few years, I want to phase that out," she said of the cleaning business.
That desire for change, added to her love of animals, set her on the track toward creating and selling dog treats.
"I want my dogs to live forever," she said. "I'm just trying to make dogs happy."
She's concerned about animals' health, and from the start was devoted to using natural ingredients.
"It's all in how you bake it," she said.
She uses an open-top cookie cutter to form each treat, pressing the dough down with her fingertips. Each oven batch creates two bags of treats. A half-pound bag contains 42 or 43 treats and retails for $7.88. Her first treat variety is heart shaped. Customers already have requested a second variety, with cherries added. Those will be star-shaped and should be available soon.
Pets Like It Fresh treats are available at East Bay Animal Hospital in Acme, Send Brothers Farm Mart in Williamsburg and Square Deal Country Store in Traverse City.
"Pets are loving them," said Norma Munford, clinic manager at East Bay Animal Hospital. "Our clients like the natural thing and the local thing."
Ramping up operations for the bakery required a variety of business chores: laboratory analysis, packaging choice, labeling, distribution arrangement, website creation (Taibl also sells directly to consumers) and state licensing. "Pet food is really regulated," Taibl said. "They want to know what's going in it and how much."
Once she leaped those legal hurdles, the pet-treat business started with a bang in mid August. Sales are keeping Taibl busy in the kitchen.
She's not sure exactly where the new enterprise will take her, but Taibl daydreams of one day running a little shop, baking and selling dog treats and serving coffee to customers.
More information is available at 231-313-4568 or petslikeitfreshdogbakery.com.