Mentor Entrepreneur Combines His Passions to Create a New, Web-based Business
Matt Craggs loves baking and he loves rescuing dogs, which led him to open the Golden Barkery, an online company that makes and sells "pup cakes" and other tail-waggin' treats
It's not all very common when an entrepreneur has the opportunity to combine two life-long passions into a new business.
But Matt Craggs, founder of The Golden Barkery, figured out a way to do it.
After graduating from Mentor High School in 2000, he almost went to a culinary school to become a pastry chef. But he decided to work in the catering industry and pursue his college degree in business and marketing.
Craggs also became involved in animal rescue operations. He is director of Golden Retrievers in Need, a volunteer rescue operation that finds new homes for displaced, abused and neglected Golden Retrievers.
"With that, I combined my two passions for baking and animal rescue and created this business (in 2008)," said Craggs. He set out to leverage his culinary talents and knowledge to manufacture and sell nutritious dog treats and donate 10 percent of the profits to support animal rescue organizations.
Before his Web-based business, thegoldenbarkery.com, finally went live in April, he spent a lot of time doing research, developing and testing his dog treat creations while holding down a full-time job. Craggs became a registered pet food manufacturer, which means his dog treats have been tested and approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture for product content and safety, said Craggs.
The Golden Barkery menu includes items such as "pup cakes" --- or oversized cupcakes ---- in flavors such as apple cinnamon crunch, beef "N" cheddar, peanut butter carrot and pumpkin carob chip. The business also offers dog treats in flavors such as Italian Pizza, Holiday Dinner, Southern Turkey Bacon and Chicken Ginger Cheesy.
In addition to gift baskets, he also sells K9 Pawty Packs for those owners who celebrate their dog's birthday or some other special occasion. The packs include pup cakes, and a 1.5-pound bag of dog treats for every dog that attends the "pawty." What's more, all K-9 Pawty Packs include party hats, noise makers, party plates, napkins, a candle and doggy bags for any leftovers.
So how does Craggs differentiate his dog treat products from those in the big box stores? Well, for one thing, he doesn't use preservatives. In addition, the treats are made-to-order at his Mentor home. They can remain fresh for up to 10 days and four weeks if stored in the refrigerator.
"Many of the dog treat products sold at the big box retailers have a lot of preservatives and fillers," said Craggs. "A lot people want to know what is in the foods their dogs are eating. So we use only 'human grade' ingredients. Almost all of our dog treats are made from whole wheat flour, as well as rolled oats and flaxseed for healthy skin coat. We also make gluten-free treats because some dogs have allergies."
For pet owners, the Golden Barkery also offers human treats such as cookies, cupcakes, brownies, bars and dessert platters.
"A lot of people will order treats for their dogs and when they see our human treats they usually buy something for themselves as well," Craggs said. "About 60 percent of our sales are dog treats and 40 percent are human treats."
Most of his online orders come from customers throughout Northeast Ohio. He also sells his products at community festivals, art shows, dog shows, farmer's markets, craft shows and holiday shows. This year, he attended 35 shows throughout Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga counties. Next year, he plans to attend 50 events.
If his business grows, Craggs hopes to open a retail location in Lake County.
Finally, if you're looking for a few more Christmas gifts for your dog or a dog lover, the Golden Barkery is offering customers through the month of December a free quarter-pound bag of treats when they order any half-pound or one pound bag of human cookies or dog treats.