I had the opportunity to (virtually) sit down with Amanda, owner of a cute little shop called The Chocolate Lab. Her pet products have appeared on the HGTV website and in Puppies USA Magazine — so I figured they were worth a look.
Aimee: So how did you get started? What inspired you?
Amanda: We bought our first house in November of 2005, and the first thing I did was find myself the perfect little puppy to join our family. I started doing some research regarding dog food, and I was horrified at the lack of care that went into the commercial dog food industry. It was that horror that pushed me to start creating my own recipes for our puppy. I started giving excess cookies to people I worked with, and had an overwhelming response to the treats that I was creating. I started a small shop on etsy.com and things sort of ballooned from there. I’m always inspired to create new things! I see dogs at the park, or being walked and they all inspire me. We all want our pets to be around for as long as possible. One way to make sure that happens is to feed them a healthy diet.
Aimee: How much time do you spend creating each day? How much time do you spend on marketing and other business stuff?
Amanda: The creative wheels in my head are constantly turning. I currently work a full time job as an Information Specialist for an Insurance Brokerage, so I spend my nights sewing and baking for dogs. You can sleep when you’re dead, right?? As far as marketing and other business stuff, I’d say that eats up the other 25% of my “free” time. Running your own business IS a full time job, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to do that and nothing else, kudos to you!
Aimee: Have you always been an animal lover?
Amanda: I always wanted a dog. As a kid, my parents (Who have since tired of hearing me tell this story) wouldn’t allow me to have one, said it wouldn’t be fair to the dog, we were never around and who would take care of the dog, walk the dog, feed the dog? You know, all those excuses parents give to kids because they don’t want a puppy peeing on their floors. So, we had cats instead. (Because apparently cats never pee in the house??) I loved the cats… but all I ever wanted was a dog. The Cats, I’m afraid, are long since passed. Their names were Bad Bob, and Pooh.
Aimee: And now…?
Amanda: The first thing I did when my husband and I bought our house in November 2005 was find myself the puppy of my dreams. My husband and I had been going back and forth about what kind of dog we wanted, when on November 15th, 2005 I saw an ad in the paper for Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppies. The ad said that there were two females left. I called and made an appointment to see them, telling my husband that I was just going to go look, that I probably wouldn’t buy one. The breeder brought one of the females out to me, and I instantly fell in love and said I’d take her. She will be two on September 10th, and her name is Molly Brown Truffles. She’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
Aimee: Do you work with any local animal shelters or rescues?
Amanda: Absolutely! We donate to the local Humane Societies and SPCA as often as possible.
Aimee: Have you always been a craft lover? What else do you create?
Amanda: Oh I have been a craft lover for my entire life! My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet at a very young age, so you’ll constantly find me with some sort of knitting project. Last year, I knit an entire line of doggie scarves. They’re quite cute. I also create what I call “Dog Walker’s Companions” which are stylish little baggie sleeves that you can clip onto your belt loop, or your dog’s lead, so you are never without a bag to pick up after your dog. And I create fantastic dog leads, bandannas, and the aforementioned scarves.
It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Amanda — and I’ll be shopping with her for some puppy presents when the holidays come around!