Barking Up a Company

Barking Up a Company

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Every woman has baked a cookie or two in her life, but Alison Sullivan, founder and owner of Gertie Goodies, has applied her baking skills to a different breed of cookies. Sullivan’s tasty treats, while edible for humans, aim to satisfy canine taste buds.


Sullivan started Gertie Goodies, a gourmet dog treat company, in August after she, her husband and their two yellow Labrador retrievers moved to Cincinnati from Naples, Fla. The idea of baking her own doggie delights came when she was house sitting for a friend in Florida and the air conditioning unit broke. It didn’t take long for bugs to swarm toward a bag of dog biscuits her friend had left behind, which made Sullivan wonder what was really in the dog treats.


After thorough research, Sullivan decided that she could make all-natural, healthy and affordable dog biscuits for the same price as store-bought treats for her dogs Erma and Gertie, the inspiration for the company name. So she started baking.


After about a month of tweaking the recipes, Sullivan had her truffle recipes more or less figured out. “We continue to make improvements [on the recipes] every day,” Sullivan says. One planned “tweak” is the addition of vitamin E to serve as a natural preservative and a nutrient to contribute to a healthy coat of fur.


Once the truffles were ready for sale, Sullivan approached local pet care facilities about carrying her product. And Pet City Resorts and Dog Day Every Day were her first stops. They loved the idea.


110308CAREER2.jpgSullivan makes three flavors of Gertie Goodies truffles: peanut butter topped with crushed oats and a carob drizzle, beef and cheese topped with grated parmesan, and carob topped with peanut butter yogurt. Sullivan is working to introduce a fourth flavor with a peanut butter base with a paw print stamped in a cream cheese icing.


While the truffles satisfy even the pickiest pups, the packaging satisfies the owner. A couple truffles in each box are wrapped in tin foil with colors to match the season, holiday or event. So when you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with your family, don’t forget the dog. “Treat the dog you love to a truffle,” Sullivan says, while you enjoy your pumpkin pie.


With the presentation of the truffles, the treats have become more of a gifting item, Sullivan says. “If you go to an animal lover’s house, instead of wine, bring a box of treats for their dog,” Sullivan says.


The truffles come in small and large sizes to accommodate all canine breeds, and they come in small and large boxes to accommodate all client needs. The large truffles are about the size of a golf ball, and the small truffles are about half that size, Sullivan says. A small box ($4) has either 12 small truffles or six large truffles, and a large box ($7) has either 24 small or 12 large.


Besides truffles, Sullivan also bakes biscuits and custom doggie birthday cake cookies. The standard cookie cake ($15) comes in the shape of a dog bone, and it is large enough to need a shirt box for transport, Sullivan says. But Sullivan will 0208GIBBERMAN.gifwork with any customer on size, shape and flavor to ensure the satisfaction of both the dog and its owner.


Currently, customers can buy Gertie Goodies by phone or mail orders or visiting one of four local locations that carry the tasty treats: Pet City Resorts, Dog Day Everyday, Anderson Township Family Pet Center and Red Dog Pet Resort and Spa. Sullivan expects to have online ordering through the Web site by the end of November. If you buy five boxes, you get a small box free.


Sullivan went from an idea to a company in a matter of months, but she didn’t do it completely on her own. Her husband provided a support system and a helping hand as needed, Sullivan says. Sullivan also has found support through the Women’s Idea Network. Sullivan recommends the W.I.N., whose members meet on the third Wednesday of every month, to any woman starting or thinking of starting her own business.


For more information or to place an order, call (239) 293-2131 or e-mail Sullivan. To ensure on-time delivery, holiday and event orders must be placed at least five days prior to the day of celebration.


Amy Storer-Scalia