About five years ago, when Lindsey Sobkowski’s family adopted a sweet German Spitz named Fritz, the then-11-year-old noticed something troubling about his favorite dog treats: they were loaded with ingredients she knew weren’t good for humans or their pooch companions. A quick Google search for healthier biscuit recipes started Sobwkoski on the path to entrepreneurship in her tween years, and now 16, she’s known throughout the Blue Water area and beyond for her healthy, Fritz-approved dog treats.
The Marysville High School junior took the basic treats recipes she found online and experimented with them, honing her baking skills and getting a little taste-testing help from Fritz, who especially likes the Chicken Liver Parsley recipe. If your dog doesn’t care for that flavor, no worries. Sobkowski also offers five other carefully-crafted, all-natural dog treat varieties, including the pooch-popular peanut butter balls, at several local farmers markets. Every Friday, she’s at the Marysville farmers market, and on Saturdays, you can find her and her treats (and sometimes Fritz) at the Vantage Point Market in downtown Port Huron. Once a month, Sobkowski travels to the farmers markets in St. Clair Shores and Clarkston, where her treats are a big hit.
Sobkowski chooses her ingredients carefully, including whole wheat flour (for healthy digestion) and milled flax seed (for a thick, shiny coat). Each batch of treats is made from scratch, and she never uses preservatives. Won’t the preservative-free treats go stale? Sobkowski says no, because dogs like them so much, they’ll be long gone before they have a chance to get stale.
For all her success, it hasn’t been an entirely easy journey, Sobkowski says, but it’s been worth it. Her greatest challenge is one experienced by small business owners no matter their age--getting all her legal ducks in a row once she was ready to launch.
“There were expenses I didn’t expect,” she says, like the cost of her feed license. But these hurdles were no match for Sobkowski’s determination, and she has a little helpful advice to other young creators and entrepreneurs. “Go for it,” she says, “and don’t let yourself get discouraged.”
Aside from saving most of her earnings for her college education, Sobkowski has an eye on her future, and the future of her treats business. She plans to study the arts and also business in college, both of which she knows would come in very handy if she decides to keep her business going as an adult. It’s not an impossible dream -- there’s at least one popular nationwide chain of specialty dog treat shops, the Three Dog Bakery, so Sobkowski knows it’s possible for her tween-started business to flourish well into the future. With Fritz at her side, offering his help as a taste-tester, she knows she’d have all the support and loyal-doggie love she’d ever need to keep motivated and inspired.
For more information on where Sobkowski’s treats can be found, follow Fritz’s Bone Appetite on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/fritzsboneappetite.