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story.lead_photo.caption Janelle Jessen/Herald-Leader McKenna Baum, 11, center, and Jaelyn Baum, 9, sold Bark Bites at the Pool Pawty, a fundraiser for Tailwaggers, at the Siloam Springs Aquatic Center in September. The two sisters started the dog treat business and give 20 percent of their proceeds to Tailwaggers.

Two young entrepreneurs started a dog treat business -- Bark Bites -- and are using it to make a difference for local shelter animals.

Sisters McKenna Baum, 11, and Jaelyn Baum, 9, wanted to start a business and earn their own money but decided to put a different twist on the traditional lemonade stand.

"Our friends were doing a lemonade stand and we wanted to do something like that," Jaelyn said. "We wanted to do dog treats."

Inspired by their dog Charlie, adopted from the Siloam Springs Animal Shelter in 2016, they decided early on to donate at least 20 percent of their earnings to Tailwaggers to support local animal shelters.

Tailwaggers is a nonprofit that that supports animal shelters in Siloam Springs, West Siloam Springs, Okla., Gentry, Decatur and Gravette by promoting adoption and educating the public about spaying/neutering, according to the organization's website, nwatailwaggers.org.

Jaelyn reached out to Tina Berrios, Tailwaggers director, on Facebook. Then the girls took some samples of their treats to the shelter, according to their mom Sarah Baum. Things grew from there, and the the girls debuted Bark Bites at the Pool Pawty, a Tailwaggers fundraiser that took place at the Siloam Springs Aquatic Center in September.

Since then, the sisters have also sold their treats at the Homegrown Festival and Siloam Springs Farmers Market. They also held a pre-Christmas sale on Facebook and donated treats to be sold a the Tailwaggers bake sale. They finally earned enough to go to Sam's Club last week and purchase seven large bags of dog food and two bags of cat food to deliver to the Siloam Springs and Gentry animal shelters.

When asked why they donate proceeds from their sales to support local shelter animals, the girls answered in unison "We like dogs!"

"And we know that Tailwaggers helps other shelters take to take care of animals to help them find homes," Jaelyn said.

The cause is close to their hearts because of Charlie, a small mixed-breed dog who has become part of the family.

"He's a black fluffy dog with a big long tail," McKenna said.

Starting Bark Bites has been a learning and bonding experience for the whole family, according to Sarah Baum. At first their goal was just to sell treats at the Pool Pawty, but then project gained momentum and grew into a business.

McKenna and Jaelyn started out by testing dog treat recipes and calculating what their costs. Charlie was happy to volunteer as chief taste tester.

The girls have made and sold pumpkin, sweet potato, peanut butter, apple and carrot, carob and banana flavored treats. The treats are preservative free and made with all-natural, food-grade ingredients that are safe for people to eat too, so they have done some taste testing too with the help of their dad, Mike Baum.

The sisters painted a cabinet their family was planning to get rid of and turning it into a stand. McKenna came up with the business name.

"We were talking about what we should call it, and I thought, 'Hey, dogs bark and bites are like you eat something small, it doesn't take long, and then we decided that would be the name," McKenna said.

Sarah, who has experience with graphic design, made the logo, and McKenna made a stop-motion video advertisement for their products.

McKenna and Jaelyn said they have learned baking skills, such as measurements and how to use ingredients, and math skills, such as how to calculate their costs and the proceeds that should be donated Tailwaggers. Jaelyn has even had the chance to practice a little public speaking at some of the Tailwaggers events.

"It's been neat to see my girls and see what areas the shine in, what they enjoy," Sarah said.

Jaelyn prefers making dough, interacting with customers and selling treats, while McKenna likes to cut out shapes and marketing. The business has taught the girls to look for win-win solutions and to have give and take, Sarah said.

"When Jaelyn is just about up to her ears with cutting out shapes, McKenna can take on a little bit of that and we know when we get to the selling part, McKenna's a little more shy and Jaelyn is out there," Sarah said. "They each have a way to shine and that's been good to see, because I can celebrate that with them."

The sisters agree the best part of running the business is watching dogs -- whether they are customers, shelter animals or Charlie at home -- enjoy their treats. They are saving some of the money they earn and spending the rest on fun things such as family adventures or new toys for Charlie.

Both girls said they would like to grow their business in the future. When McKenna grows up, she said she would like to have a large dog treat business with a lot of employees, with a dog shelter next door.

Berrios said McKenna and Jaelyn's work for animals gives her hope that someday there won't be a need for organization's like Tailwaggers because of the compassion and responsibility that the next generation is showing.

"They are really smart business girls and they are very responsible," she said. "They come to all of our events, always touched base with me about everything, and are very involved with Tailwaggers. I wouldn't be surprise if they are the next Tailwagger girls."

Berrios was inspired by McKenna and Jaelyn's business and would like to give children who have business concepts that help animals to have booths near the Tailwaggers area during the Dogwood Festival. For more information, contact Berrios at 479-238-3612.

Bark Bites will continue to have pop-up sales and participate in local events, Sarah said. For more information and to find their next pop-up sale, follow the Bark Bites Facebook page.

General News on 01/09/2019

Print Headline: Bark Bites a growing success

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