In this interview, we find out more about Ceri Phillips, her business journey and why she believes South Africa should support small business.
From The Barkery is a luxury pet brand, (since 2011) that produces and designs, all things for dogs and cats. We specialise in manufacturing CBD products for our furry friends, plus, we also have a pedigree twist on all human baked treats – including personalised treats, biscuits, cakes and pup cakes. On our accessories side, there are waterproof blankets and PH balanced doggy shampoo bars. Everything we do is pure luxury, aimed especially for the furry guys in our lives.
From The Barkery has continued to grow in recent times. We are experiencing many new clients ordering from our website and it’s a really nice thing to see them come back and order again. I know our products are world class, of course I may be slightly biased there but it’s great to see returning customers time and time again and the happy, positive reviews we receive, just reinforce that we are on the right track. We have also gained quite a few new Vets and stores stocking our products, nationwide. This really helps to grow our nationwide footprint and above all, enables our clients to pop into the store closest to them and buy off the shelf. Not everyone has access to be able to order online and so its extremely important to me that From The Barkery is available and accessible to all, near and far.
Why did you start your business?
My husband and I owned restaurants and we would always bring our two black labs, Barkley and Bentley to work with us. Quite often customers would bring their dogs with them and I decided we needed a ‘Four Paws’ menu to accommodate the furries and so the business began from that.
I wanted the treats to be healthy, wholesome, with no nasties, plus, they must have that little something extraordinary. Made from our own doggy friendly tapioca frosting, the personalisation of the doggies names or a fun thing like woof, spoilt or yum was the pizazz needed,. With popularity, we progressed into Holiday treats and gift hampers.
The business needed a name, so after much thought ‘From The Barkery’ seemed a great choice.
Our CBD range came after our beloved Bentley became sick with a very aggressive lung tumor and was given a couple of weeks to live. Not wanting to give up on him, I had heard of the benefits of cannabis oil and approached the vet about giving it to him, to make his last days more comfortable. She agreed it was a good idea and without wasting a single hour, I bought and gave him his first dose. Naturally, I was nervous about giving it to him, but I immediately saw the benefit. He had a new lease of life. After seeing this, almost miraculous result, I thought, why can’t I make a CBD biscuit? And so I did!
It’s a lot easier to give to the dogs and so the research and development began into our CBD biscuits and now our CBD range has grown immensly, since those first few months.
What do you love the most about running your business?
I believe it’s the love and care we put into everything we do. We hand make and taste everything ourselves and ensure that what goes into our products is the best, human grade produce one can buy. I love my company and I’m very proud of what it has become. I’m most proud though to be able to help the dogs and cats feel better, have pawsome pawties and yummy treats. It really does make all the difference to me to know that people care for their animals and want the best for them.
It absolutely makes my day when clients send us pictures and videos of their dogs at birthday pawties, with all their FTB goodies. When they email to say how much they love our products and service, that makes it all worth while and that’s what I love the most.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt on your business journey?
I’ve learnt how to bake (for the furries), which was never something I was any good at. I’ve also learnt to be patient and that product development takes time to perfect.
I like to focus on changing trends and we are forever having fun with new and exciting recipes. I feel at some stage in the near future we may have to invest in a larger factory and warehouse, as space is becoming quite limited, but that’s a good problem to have. We have had to learn to scale up production with vast orders and now know that we can produce vast quantities of excellent quality, within very short deadlines. With access to even bigger space, we can continue to grow. The team is also growing too, as we have bought in additional staff this year to help with production. One thing I know for sure, is that I proof read artworks way more than once, after having a few misprints in the early days, due to not reading through the copy properly. An expensive lesson learned.
What is your why? Why do you do what you do and what do you focus on to help you persevere and get through tough times?
I do what I do because it makes me happy. I stay focused on what’s important to keep the business as best as it can be, always. Customer satisfaction is key and if they are happy (furries and pawrents) then that’s the number one thing for perseverance. Where there’s a passion, there can be success.
Having been a Top 20 Winner in 2021 South African Small Business Awards has been a great boost for From The Barkery. Not only have we seen an increase in our social media presence, but it has given all of us a sense of pride for the business. The exposure from NSBC has absolutely benefited us immensely and I couldn’t be more grateful for the acknowledgements given. It really makes me proud to have our commemorative coin trophy on display and definitely gives me the strength to strive for bigger and better. This year will see the launch of new products that we have been working on and I can’t wait to introduce them to our furry friends and their humans.
Why should South Africa support small businesses now and beyond?
Small businesses are generally owned and operated by your neighbours and play an important role in supporting the local communities.
This creates local employment which should offer a smaller carbon footprint too. Showing continued support helps smaller businesses, like From The Barkery maintain jobs, plus you are dealing with passionate people who only wish the best for their business and customers.