Gracie’s Doggie Delights was started by Gracie, a young woman with Down Syndrome. They make and sell dog treats that they ship anywhere in the country. Their mission is not only to make great products but also to raise awareness about people with developmental disabilities and getting people to focus on the individuals’ abilities. Enjoy the interview below:
Tell us about Gracie’s Doggie Delights and how it got started.
“It started in 2016 when Gracie decided at age 19 she was “done” with school. We had difficulty finding a job in our community. The lack of opportunities was disheartening. We thought long and hard about Gracie’s passions, and tapped into her love for our family dogs. Initially she was going to work at our local butcher shop which freeze dries dog treats. But sensing an opportunity, we asked the butcher if he would sell us the product wholesale. He agreed and we built the website and were off and running.”
What were the goals of the business when it first got started and how have those changed as the business has grown?
“We initially wanted to just keep Grace busy and give her a sense of purpose. As the business has exploded, our mission has changed. We want Grace to be an example to others about what people with differing abilities can do — and eventually be able to do what other employer in our area are reluctant to do — hire people with developmental disabilities.”
Tell us about your own dogs and how much they love your treats!
“We have three rescue schnauzers that we love very much. They are Gracie’s ‘quality control department.'”
What is your favorite part about owning the business? What is the most challenging part?
“Freedom is the best part. Being our own bosses. Gracie loves being a boss and “fires” her dad daily.
The most challenging…. we are a very small fish in a billion dollar industry. Also, because of the expense of the freeze drying process, we rely on others for our supply chain.”
What makes these treats different than others?
“Our treats are freeze dried raw. With no added ingredients. No chemicals, no fillers. Nothing. The single ingredient treats are so different, that dogs often won’t go back to store bought treats.”
What is the mission of Gracie’s Doggie Delights?
“These are the treats that dogs love and you’ll love giving. We are trying to get the world to focus on abilities, rather than disabilities.”
What do you wish other businesses/companies knew about hiring individuals with Down Syndrome.
“They are dependable, they are reliable and they are capable. Hiring people with Down syndrome isn’t some kind of altruistic thing — it will be beneficial to your company, your other employees and your customers.”
With the holidays coming up, where can people buy Gracie’s Doggie Delights?
“While we do have dozens of retail outlets around the nation, the best place is our website.”
What is a message that you would like to leave with our community?
“The best part about this for us as parents is watching Gracie grow. She is confident and proud. We love connecting with new parents who say Gracie is inspiring them and making them feel more hopeful for their child’s future.”