Jane Powers and her late husband, Ben, began making dog biscuits in their home to sell at craft fairs in 2003. The couple dubbed the business B&J’s Pampered Pup Bakery.
Since then, the business has bloomed, and Jane and her staff now bake the dog treats at a northside shop. Powers sells her biscuits at up to four markets or fairs each week, including the Kenosha HarborMarket.
Q: When did you first start the business?
A: I would say in 2003. It started out as a hobby going to craft fairs. I saw the notice in the paper for HarborMarket and thought, “What the heck. Let’s buy a tent and a banner.” We did that, and we’ve been there ever since.
Q: Why did you start making dog treats in the first place?
A: Ben needed something to do while he was home and on the disabled list. I said, ‘Why don’t we start making dog biscuits?’ Someone gave me a wreath made out of dog biscuits one year. I thought that would be a good thing to sell at craft fairs. I made those with store-bought biscuits. Then, I thought why not make homemade biscuits. It seemed like an easy transition. Ben made them while I worked, and it just evolved.
Q: How has business changed since moving to a shop in 2010?
A: Since we’ve been over there, we’ve been able to branch out flavor-wise. We used to only have four flavors and now we have 12. Our product line has become pretty extensive now. We’ve moved into the wheat-free products, and gluten-free products because that’s what the customers have asked for.
Q: What does your production week look like?
A: My head baker gets here at 3:30 in the morning. She bakes until 10:30 in the morning. I’ll go over and take care of bagging and any gift baskets we need to get out. My job entails a little bit of everything. I do all the muffins and the cakes. We’re baking four days a week, right now. When summer kicks in, we’ll bake five days a week.
Q: Does the business have a mascot?
A: Yes, Buddy, I adopted two years ago from the humane society. I usually get older dogs, because I think they need a home, too. He’s just been a happy-go-lucky dog. He loves going to the shop and tasting all the treats.
Q: How do you decide what the flavors are going to be?
A: Our customers pretty much dictate the flavors. I’ve got a lot of dog cookbooks that give you basic guidelines. I tweak them to where I want them. Some recipes we’ve found from other dog clubs, or from people that feed their dogs a raw diet. Any other recipes we fiddle around with until we get the flavor we like.
Q: What is the best-selling flavor?
A: That would be our bacon biscuit. In any size or shape, bacon flies off the table. We sold out of bacon today.
Q: How many biscuits do you have to bake in a week?
A: That’s a tough question. It’d have to be in the hundreds. We make three different sizes. There’s a size for everybody. For our customers who want a softer treat, we have muffins. For HarborMarket in the summer, I’ll make 300. And, sometimes that’s not enough.
Q: What does the future look like for the business?
A: I keep setting my goals a little higher every year. I set a goal of income I’d like to meet. That’s the focus. This year is to see if I can hold up in four different markets all in one year.
Q: What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business?
A: I would say you need to know your market and know who your customers are going to be.