Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in pet care but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sue Amatrudo, Founder of Lena's Lunchbox Dog Bakery, located in East Haven, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have been in the finance/higher ed area for 35 years. At times, my day job can be rather stressful, and I have always turned to baking to relax. This led me to start a dog treat bakery that I ran out of my house. Initially, my customers were friends and family. I started attending craft fairs as a vendor, and that is really where my business is most successful. My customers are dog owners and "grandparents" of dogs.
Tell us about yourself
During the pandemic, I was living in Massachusetts on my own and moved for a job in April 2019, away from family and friends. Pre-pandemic, I would bake every Sunday night to bring in to my staff. Once the pandemic hit, I was alone in my apartment and still wanted to bake, to pass the time and give my dog a healthy treat. I turned my passion for baking for "humans" to now baking for dogs. In July 2021, I took my hobby to a different level. I researched the state requirements dog treat industry and started to make a product for samples. The first batch I delivered to all my family/friends, and asked to let me know which their dogs enjoyed. For the next few months, I did more research, set up my LLC, and started attending craft fairs in October 2021. I was humbled by the friends and family that made an effort to come to visit that day. From there, Lena's Lunchbox has only grown.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Taking a hobby and, within six months, becoming a profitable small business that I love. I have expanded from treats to holiday gift baskets, holiday-themed treats, and new puppy gifts. I also have two wholesale customers and intend to grow that area of my business.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Work-Life balance. With this being a part-time adventure, I need to manage my focus on my business, personal life, and full-time job. Last summer, I was all about making money and getting Lena's Lunchbox name out there. Unfortunately, I didn't get to enjoy much of the summer as I was either baking or selling. It takes hard work to be successful, but you also need downtime to continue the success story.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't give up. Things aren't going to work perfectly from the beginning. Learn with each sale/event/etc., and build your business slowly and steadily.
- Change with your environment - as trends change, your business should take advantage of what's hot and use it to your benefit. Don't become complacent. Challenge yourself to become a better you, a better business owner.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help/turn to family to friends. They are your support system and will be there no matter what.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.