Charlie’s Treats Bakery: Casey Lemmons Interview
Casey Lemmons owns and operates Charlie’s Treats Bakery. They are based out of Magnolia, Delaware and are making fresh, homemade pet treats daily. The treats are made from human grade, natural ingredients that are safe for your pets.
Casey’s older dog Charlie is the inspiration for Charlie’s Treats and she, along with Synder, taste-test all of the treats. They take pride in using natural ingredients to ensure the healthiest (and yummiest) treats for your pets!
How did you hear about TLOY/ What’s your relationship with TLOY?
I first heard about TLOY after I applied for a job with Ask Yourself Productions. Michael suggested I subscribe to TLOY newsletter and let him know when I was going to be in NYC because as he put it I was “enthusiastic and persistent but in a good way,” so he was interested to meet me. It also helped that my previous boss and mentor, Richard Hoover, founder of The Agency Program, sent in an amazing reference letter to Michael. Well, it didn’t quite work out and I didn’t get the job, but Michael did offer some really great advice on how to run a successful business. Michael’s words, along with his videos really gave me the extra encouragement to pursue my passion for my dogs and baking. I still read the newsletters when they come in and try to keep up with the videos because there is a lot of relevant stuff, especially for someone just starting out.
What started you on your path to create doggie treats? Why doggie treats?
There were a couple things that happened all around the same time that made me start Charlie’s Treats Bakery. First, I was a couple months out of college and I couldn’t find a job. Granted, I live in Delaware and I was looking for positions in Colorado and New York, so chances of even getting a call back were slim to none anyway. Second, I was worried that I would be considered “stale” by potential employers. So starting my own business let me practice marketing, social media and finance skills to keep my resume fresh. Finally, I will not have an opportunity like this again where I can start something new and have time to grow it. I was fortunate enough to have parents that are very supportive and encouraged me to pursue this path. This is my chance to build something and take risks while I am still young and can afford to fail.
I chose dog treats because I got to combine the two things I love; my dogs, Charlie and Synder, and baking! By baking dog treats, I get to experience all the joys of baking without the desire to eat everything I make.
How did TLOY encourage that?/ What is your favorite TLOY blog/vlog? why?
TLOY actually played a pivotal role in my decision to really get serious about my business. I watched the fifth episode of TLOY online about what I want to be when I grow up and realized I didn’t know. By the time I was getting ready to graduate college, I was telling people I wanted to do public relations but there wasn’t any passion there. I didn’t get a fire in my belly talking about press releases or media relations. I wasn’t sure what my passion was but it wasn’t that. Then I started my bakery business and I found that passion in smiling faces and wagging tails. Without watching that video, I don’t think I would have realized so soon that I was already on the path to something I was passionate about. TLOY offers a lot of opportunities for “ah-ha!” moments!
Explain what you do/ how can we find you?: including website, social handles, and stores you are sold in.
I am the owner of Charlie’s Treats Bakery and I make fresh, all-natural, homemade dog treats! All of my recipes and ingredients are researched, developed, baked and test by me and my dogs. I personally taste test all of the new flavors and I’ll be honest, it is not always fun! You can find me at my website charliestreatsbakery.com, on Instagram @charliestreatsbakery or on facebook at facebook.com/charliestreatsbakery. I also sell at craft shows and post on my social media where I will be next. My treats are also being sold at Simply Dragonfly in St. Michaels, MD.
Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
At the risk of sounding cliché, my biggest inspirations are my dogs, Charlie and Synder. When I make a new batch of treats, I can always tell if they are going to a success even before I put them in the oven. If they love them, they will almost always be under my feet while I am mixing it up. I also have customers send in photos of their pets enjoying my treats and that is really a big motivator because I can see that these pups like my product!
What was your most difficult challenge when starting your own business?
Spending money to make money. There are a lot of little things that really add up in the beginning for you to even start selling your product. Not just the ingredients for the treats, but the entry fee for craft shows, the gas and tolls to get there and back, giving out samples to businesses, test batches that don’t turn out. Not to mention the business and insurance registration fees. All of these things add up quickly and makes it feel like an uphill battle when you start off.
My business is in a unique position where I have an additional hurdle: sneaky dogs! There have been several occasions where I will leave the room while my treats cool on the counter and come back to find nothing but crumbs and a very unsympathetic dog. This has become known around the house as the Counter Test and while it is flattering that my treats are dog-on irresistible, it is my product they are stealing!
Was there anyone who told you you were crazy/shouldn’t pursue this?
No, I am very fortunate that my family, partner and friends were all very supportive!
What is you dream for the next 2 & 10 years?
In the next two years I would like to be in in at least 50 stores and have a regular customer base ordering from my website. I would also like to expand into cat treats and work on recipes for pets with special dietary restrictions, like gluten free.
In the next 10 years I would like to be in a couple thousand stores internationally with a permanent bakery location that offers treats for a wide variety of different animals, not just dogs and cats. I would also like to be partnered with several nonprofits to help shelter animals, local food banks and LGBT youth.
If you had a microphone that could reach every person in the world what would you say?
Inspired by the words of one of my best friends, I would say: You matter. You are important. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be loved. No matter your race, religion, nationality, gender or sexuality, you deserve to be here. Be kind and help one another. Don’t take your life for granted and enjoy every minute of it because you will never get that time back.
For others looking to start their own business what advice would you give them?
I would give them the same advice Michael gave me, which was take reasonable risks and don’t reinvent the wheel. Talk to other people who are doing what you are doing! Learn from their mistakes so you can work smarter, not harder.
Also, working past your fears is important and something I am still struggling with. Talking to potential retail locations and laying yourself and your product out there to be judged is terrifying and being rejected is soul-crushing. But, if you don’t put yourself out there, you will never go anywhere at all!
Any inspiring books, websites, art, songs that you would like to share with others? *stuff that inspires you*
A couple books that I find inspiring and funny are Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants and Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please. Both women are very inspiring to me and reading about their struggles and successes is very motivating.