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Sarah McManus – Owner “Dog Eat Cake”

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Sarah, tell the readers of Wicked Business Boston what made you pivot from being a fashion stylist and blogger to opening a dog bakery?

I’ve always loved fashion, but I think it’s a bit more challenging to pursue as a career in Boston. I’ve always been an entrepreneur, so I looked for ways to combine my fashion skills, creativity, marketing expertise, and love of animals. Dogs have always been a huge part of my life and bring me so much joy. Dog Eat Cake allows me to express my creativity in a different way. Fortunately, fashion still plays a role in how I decorate and brand my dog cakes!

Can you briefly explain what Dog Eat Cake specializes in and what makes it unique to Boston?

“I strive to fulfill whatever the customer wants for their pet.”

Dog Eat Cake is an all-natural pet bakery where I handstamp and hand-bake everything. Our offerings are fully customizable. For instance, if your dog wants balls on the cake, we can do that. We customize not only the colors but also the message. I strive to fulfill whatever the customer wants for their pet, as their pets are like their children. What makes us unique is going the extra mile to make the cakes look creative, special, and distinct from others.

What are some things you might do differently if you were starting your business today?

I would focus on getting the social media game going sooner and leverage the marketing and outreach experience I had in the fashion industry for the pet industry. Building more connections and doing thorough research are crucial steps I would emphasize.

How did you navigate the pandemic as a small business owner? Were you considered a luxury purchase during that period?

Surprisingly, I wasn’t considered a luxury purchase during COVID. People were looking for activities to distract them from the pandemic, and my business provided a creative outlet. With more dogs being bought and rescued during the pandemic, there was a significant need for my services. It allowed people to set aside the pandemic’s sadness and do something fun for their pets.

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance as a small business owner with a family?

It can be really challenging, especially since I work from home. My business is a major part of my life, which is something you need to accept if you’re running a small business. I try to stick to set working hours and ensure I have at least one day off to maintain a balance.

How important is social media in promoting your business, and what would you say to those who are hesitant to use it?

Social media is crucial for promoting my business and products. For those hesitant to use it, I understand it can be overwhelming and time-consuming. I suggest focusing on a couple of platforms like Instagram or Facebook initially. Build your content by taking photos and creatively sharing who you are online rather than trying to create posts solely to please others.

How do you come up with your unique dog cake recipes, and are there any secret ingredients?

I did extensive research on what animals can and cannot eat. My two Boston Terriers serve as my taste testers and let me know what they like. Creating these recipes involved a lot of trial and error, but the dogs love them. They particularly enjoy the human-grade, all-natural, and healthy ingredients.

Do you have a memorable customer story or feedback that made your day?

My customers make my day every day. I often receive text messages and photos from customers after they pick up their orders, telling me how much the cake or treats meant to them and their dogs. Creating lasting memories for them is incredibly special and fulfilling for me.

What’s the most unusual or creative dog cake you’ve ever been asked to make?

I’ve been asked to make some crazy looking cakes, including 3D shapes like footballs or cartoon characters. These requests can be challenging, but I try to maintain a consistent aesthetic with all my cakes.

Do you have regular customers whose dogs can’t get enough of your cakes?

I have several regular customers whose dogs are huge fans of my treats. One of my neighbors’ dogs always comes running to me, with or without treats, eager to get something. You could say that I have built somewhat of a fan group.

Do you have any future plans for the bakery? Any new flavors or products on the horizon?

I’m working on opening a storefront, which involves finding investors, securing grants, and choosing a good location. My goal is to create a space where people can come in, hang out, and make more memories with their pets.

Do you plan to open the storefront in the South End of Boston?

Yes, I would absolutely want to stay in the South End. I’ve been here for 20 years, and it’s a great community with amazing people and animals.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own niche bakery or small business, particularly in the pet industry?

You really need to love what you’re doing and be prepared for it to consume you completely. If you’re not ready for that, don’t do it. Running a small business requires a lot of work, passion, and drive to create, produce, and keep the company going. Loving what you do is essential.

To order your own custom dog cakes, visit their website, Dog Eat Cake.

Dog Eat Cake is located at 298A Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116

(617) 678-7000

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I’d love to hear from you if you’d like to be featured on Wicked Business Boston. Let’s set up an interview.

Email at: charlie@charlieabrahamsphotography.com

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