Limerick Business Leader: Home-made dog treats give a taste of a new opportunity

Young entrepreneur Emma Dineen, just 14, has come up with a novel pet treat – with her creations already attracting attention

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Bone appetit! Emma Dineen, pictured on a visit to the Limerick Leader to tell us about her product

Bone appetit! Emma Dineen, pictured on a visit to the Limerick Leader to tell us about her product

Tell us a little bit about the Barkery:

I started the company in March last year when my aunt adopted a French bulldog called George, who was really sick at the time. A lot of foods were not agreeing with him. We saw lots of stuff online, including organic treats, and we felt this was something we could try. We made our own treats, and it went from there. They are all home-made, organic, made with fresh fruit and vegetables. They are so nutritious and healthy, you’d almost eat them yourselves!

Where did the idea come from?

From the bulldog George essentially. He has sadly passed away, but we have some great memories of him – and he is essentially the face of the company now. We went to Chez le Fab and they gave George a shop-bought biscuit. We explained we make home-made dog biscuits, and I was told I should make a business out of this. It’s all home-made and home grown, but we want to branch out and do industrial quantities.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Barrington Street in the city. Now I live in Ballysheedy, having moved out there last year.

What is your educational background?

I attend Laurel Hill FCJ at the moment. I have also taken part in the Young Innovators programme run by Mary Immaculate College and Dr Gillian Barry in the Limerick Institute of Technology. It was a great programme in both the colleges. I’d recommend it to anyone – it’s free, and I’m definitely going back next year. The advice you get from it is unreal! We created our own business within five days, and it has given me a lot of new contacts too.

What other companies do you have partnerships with?

One day I was just in school, a normal day, and I had an email from Aoife McLoughlin of Shannon Airport. She was looking to order some of the plane shaped treats for the dogs which are based at the airport. I felt this could be a big thing for me. I made Aoife the treats, and went to Shannon Airport, and it’s moved on since. She hopes to do recurring orders.

I also teamed up with Vicki O’Toole, of JJ O’Toole’s, after my grandmother recommended them to me. We secured new packaging off the back of this. Then I met Vicki, and she has been the most amazing, supportive person. She has been promoting me, I have been telling her all my updates, and she’s been following me the whole time.

What does your role in the company entail?

I do a lot, but fortunately I get a lot of help from my dad Dave, my grandmother Marian, and my aunt Caroline.

Why did you decide to set up your own company?

It just happened like that. People were interested in what I was doing, we had recurring orders. People wanted this product, so I decided I could turn this into something.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

I hope to take the Barkery both national and international. I want to do a lot more orders like I have with Shannon Airport. If it’s just Shannon Airport – why not every airport? If it’s just one pet shop – why can’t it be every pet shop?

In business and life, who do you admire?

Gillian Barry and Vicki O’Toole are people I’d admire. They are inspirational people. I’d look up to my own grandmother Marian too, she is a very inspirational person to me, a business person herself.

In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

I feel like if you really want to do something, don’t follow the crowd. If you go with the crowd, it will always be the same thing, you are playing it really safe. If you go down the road less travelled, you are experiencing new things for yourself, and you can really help other people who want to travel the same road.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

I do rowing for St Michael’s Rowing Club – it takes up a lot of my time! I only started in the last few months, but I love it. I also play soccer too, for Regional United.