Ashley and Bow Wow Biccies

Ashley is a young woman who lives at home with her Mum in Ayrshire, Scotland. She likes music, enjoys cooking, and swimming and loves spending ime with her dog. After leaving school Ashley studied at College. Her time at College was reducing and Ashley and her family were considering how she might spend her time.

Ashley’s college days had been reduced, so she was looking for something else to do with her time – Ashley’s Mum Maureen

Ashley and Bow Wow Biccies

Ashley connected with a local project called Enterprising Minds run by the charity Hansel. The project was led by Alyson Miller who worked with local disabled people to help them explore their talents and passions and use them to set up their own enterprise or group.

We found out about the Enterprising Minds project and had a meeting with Alyson Miller. We chatted about what interests Ashley has, and as Ashley made her own dog biscuits, the conversation focused on this. Ashley enjoys baking, and especially making biscuits for her dog.

Together Alyson, Ashley and Ashley’s Mum Maureen decided that Ashley might like to set up her own enterprise, baking and selling dog biscuits. Alyson helped Ashley think through the practical aspects including the legal rules on food for animals; recipes for the biscuits; production methods; packaging; marketing; pricing and sales.

So, they talked about her recipe, and how it was organic, and as natural as possible….We had to be careful what we put in them because our dogs have sensitive tummies. We had to see how long they’d last, and so get a use-by date.

Ashley and Alyson talked about a name for her new enterprise and Ashley had lots of ideas from which one emerged as the best.

Ashley came up with the name Bow Wow Biccies and it just snowballed from there. We had to have labels printed, they had to be trademarked, we had to learn how to invoice, and keep accounts, and barcodes needed to be added. It was quite involved and was really good to do

Ashley and Alyson approached local pet shops and businesses with a connection to dogs and began to market the biscuits.

Before long, a pet store got interested and she was selling them there. Ashley visited a restaurant in town that was doing a charity event where they gave Ashley’s biscuits to dogs. It kept us really busy, especially all the pots we had to wash!

Ashley gained some income from selling the biscuits and she used this to cover her costs.

Whenever she sold some, the money went into buying ingredients for the next batch.

As interest in her biscuits grew Ashley decided not to develop her enterprise too much.

Some of these businesses were huge, and they were talking about us sending crates of dog biscuits. But we told them we were just doing it from our kitchen! We thought about making it bigger, but Ashley just wanted to keep things small.

What helped?

Ashley got a lot of help and support from her Mum, support workers and other people.

We used a rolling pin!

Ashley and her team got a lot of help from Alyson and the Enterprising Minds project at Hansel.

We got lots of practical advice and information, particularly from Alyson at Hansel. She really helped us to deal with the insurance side of things. She helped us to figure out how to do the labelling, to choose all the colours, sizes, prices. She helped us get finances to fund the first batch, which were paid for by Hansel. Alyson kept in regular contact with us, and whenever we were stuck with anything, we were always able to contact her.

Challenges

Ashley needs a lot of support to live her life. This means it can be challenging for her Mum and other carers to help her run her enterprise.

It was more about helping me to support Ashley, as this was extra, on top of the more practical support. It was hard at times, depending on how Ashley was so that was a challenge.

The Enterprising Minds project came to an end and this has had an impact on Ashley and her enterprise.

We know how to do it all now, it is just having that extra pair of hands really. Ashley needs more support with this. I can help, but I just can’t do it in the way that Alyson did it.

Achievements and impact

Ashley has gained a great deal from her involvement with Bow Wow Biccies. She is proud of what she has achieved, and her sense of purpose and selfesteem has increased considerably.

[Before Bow Wow Biccies I was] just going to college and cooking. It made me feel good.

She was proud to be selling them at the pet shop, and the restaurant, and thinking about all the dogs who would be enjoying her biscuits. It gave her a discussion opener. People would come up to her and speak to her and ask her about it. She really enjoyed people speaking to her about it and coming up to her and asking if she would make biscuits for their dogs. It gave Ashley a real sense of meaning and purpose.

I could see a really positive change in Ashley, as she felt more useful and productive. It was also a big help for me. Everybody should be given the chance to pursue the things that matter to them, as it really does make a difference.

Ashley also gained a positive reputation in the local area.

It was quite bizarre how many people knew about it, and how many people were connected through it. She had a wee bit of fame because of it!

The future

In recent times things have been on hold but Ashley would like to start making and selling dog biscuits again.

We have been talking about doing the dog biscuits again, because summer holidays are coming up, and there will be lots of dog walking events down at the beach