Puppy, puppy and far away – Winnipeg Free Press
GIMLI – Something smells good.
Jordan Welch, a commercial fisherman from Gimli, recently returned home after a long day at work. As he walked through the house he shares with his girlfriend, Sierra Lathlin, he noticed the scent of cinnamon, which he ultimately attributed to a plate of cookies chilling on a kitchen counter. No sooner had he taken a bite than Lathlin walked into the room shouting, “Hey, this is for dogs!”
âHe looked at me, looked at the cookie and put the rest in his mouth saying, ‘Whatever, it looks good on me,'” said Lathlin, founder of Barkery Dog Treats, an Interlake-based online store. which turns out all-natural, preservative-free treats for your four-legged friend, including cookies, dog donuts, even âpuppy tarts,â the sugar-free version of Kellogg’s popular sugar-free pastry. ‘contractor.
“There’s nothing in my things that you or I can’t eat,” she continues, offering a free sample to a scribe (thanks, but we just had lunch). “The only difference is pretty much that I dehydrate everything once it’s ready in order to extend the shelf life. It makes it a little more crisp, not that the dogs complaining.”
Lathlin, 24, was born and raised in the Cree Nation of Opaskwayak, near The Pas. A dog lover for as long as she can remember, she was 18 when she adopted Toby, a great Pyrenean. It was a rescue, he was only six weeks old when she brought him home. She didn’t know his breed beforehand, so she was more than a little surprised when he finally tipped the scales over 100 pounds.
“I mean, I weigh 100 soaked pounds, so who was walking who?” She laughed, adding that she had latched onto a second pet, Anna, a Shepherd-Lab mix, after a breakup. âAny boyfriend that I broke up with, I ended up with their dog somehow. My mom told me I better stop dating guys. dogs or I was going to have 10 before I knew it. ”
Accompanied by Toby and Anna, Lathlin moved from OCN to Winnipeg in 2015 to study computer science at the University of Winnipeg. She and Welch started dating two years later. She and her entourage moved in with him. and her dog Hilti after graduating in the spring of 2019. A few weeks later, she landed a position as Marketing Manager at Gimli Veterinary Services.
It was around the same time that she started making treats from scratch for Toby, Anna and Hilti, convinced that anything that came out of her oven would be healthier than what was available in the grocery store pet aisle. She probably would have been content to cook for their dogs on her own, except that a light bulb lit up in her head the second she spotted a poster advertising a craft sale at the Gimli Rec Center in September 2019. From Toby, Anna and Hilti were such huge fans of his cooking, maybe other dogs would be too.
“I showed up (for sale) with four different treats, including my peanut butter sneakers and fresh mint containing mint and parsley,” she says, adding that Barkery, the name she has chosen for his fledgling business, came to him one morning. blue. “I won $ 300 and I was like, woo-hoo, I’m rich.”
Lathlin spent the next 10 months dividing his time between his full-time job at the clinic and selling treats at any craft sale. It all came to a screeching halt in July 2020, when, while shopping in Winnipeg, a friend called to say that Toby had been in a hit-and-run accident and needed to be euthanized immediately.
Crushed, she gave her bosses two weeks’ notice, telling them she found it too difficult to be around other sick or dying animals. She spent the next few days locked in her room mourning her loss. Finally, not wanting Toby’s death to be in vain, she pulled out a pen and paper and jotted down her favorite things to snack on – beef liver cookies, apple and cheese bites and banana cookies. and oats, to name a few. Now was the time to devote her full attention to Barkery dog ââtreats, she had decided; she thought she had already lost Toby, so what else did she have to lose?
The first thing Lathlin did – besides adopting a new dog, Rocky, another from the Great Pyrenees – was develop a website to advertise his full line (a pack of six dehydrated rabbit legs, you’re tempted). ?). Next, she Google searched the phone numbers of pet stores, daycares and dog groomers, not only in Manitoba, but across North America.
âI searched by annual income, then I called to explain to the owner or whoever answered me what I was talking about,â she says, explaining that because her treats are dairy-free, she is able to ship anywhere in Canada as well as south of the border. “It’s not like I still have a lot of experience or customer reviews to speak of. It’s more about letting them know how passionate I am about what I do and bringing them to believe in me. ”
Her message must have echoed: since last August, she has gained retail customers in every province and territory, as well as in nearly a dozen US states, including Texas, California, Rhode Island and Delaware. . Lathlin has also ventured into the world of social media influencers. Familiar with the popularity of some dog Instagram accounts – Nashville’s Doug the Pug, for example, has 3.8 million followers, 3.8 million more than a certain newspaper scribe – she has started offering discounts 50% lifetime to dog owners who were willing to give him a little bit of, you know, paw-itive feedback.
Currently, Lathlin, the only Manitoban and one of 40 Canadians invited to participate in a virtual summit of the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance held last September in Saudi Arabia, has her program in place: Orders on the field, cook, wrap, ship, repeat. She offers free local delivery on private orders and counts stops in Winnipeg as local, regardless of the 50-minute commute she takes, sometimes twice a week, in the least.
âIt gives me time to think about new recipes and also the direction in which I want to take things next,â she says, mentioning that her main goal these days is to move the whole operation. out of her and Welch’s kitchen, and into a dedicated space of her own.
Lathlin admits she has to pinch herself sometimes to make sure it’s not just a dream. Growing up, she never had the idea of âârunning her own business; her mother is a caregiver, her late father drove a truck and she cannot remember the relative of a single friend who had his own business. Now that she is a successful entrepreneur, she is doing everything in her power to pay it forward by encouraging others, especially those in the Cree Nation of Opaskwayak, to follow her example.
âIt’s very important to me, as an indigenous woman with her own business, to get people to believe in them too,â she said, brushing a few strands of hair away from her face. âI contacted my old high school last fall, letting them know that I am available to speak to students who might have an idea for this or that. And although I am currently unable to travel there due to restrictions, I am also involved with the band office and when the time is right my intention is to visit and chat with anyone, young or old, who is considering starting their own business. ”
There is a problem with this plan.
“Around the house there are usually a lot of stray dogs, and it will be incredibly difficult not to return to Gimli without a few new ‘babies’ in the backseat,” she said, smiling ear to ear. .
For more information, visit thebarkerydogtreats.com.