Welcome to Podcast Episode 49: Creating a Style Savvy Dog Bakery with Jen Mello of Spotted Dog Bakery. I spoke to a design savvy pastry chef who’s turned her skills toward the pet industry and creates goodies that not only look Pinterest perfect, but are healthy for your dog! We talk about how she finds inspiration, the key to working with brand ambassadors and a few tools that enable her to run this whole business on her own.
Creating a Style Savvy Dog Bakery
Jen Mello was inspired to start Spotted Dog Bakery when she realized that she had a skill set that fit perfectly with the stylish dog-mom market. She previously worked in interior design, and from there took a leap into bakery management after attending pastry school in her home state of Florida. Her first pup, Havarti, came into her life somewhere in between, and starting a dog bakery became the perfect intersection of everything she loved about the last 15 years of her life. She found there wasn’t anyone producing dog cakes that had a fresh modern feel to them…so she decided she would do that!
(01:39) Introducing Jen Mello of Spotted Dog Bakery
(03:32) What makes Jen’s cakes unique
(05:16) How Jen finds inspiration
(09:27) What trials and errors Jen experienced starting her dog bakery
(13:25) How Jen approaches collaborations with other dog brands
(15:45) How to create an ambassador program for your dog brand
(18:58) How Jen’s 3 dogs have influenced her business
(21:53) Why Jen has branched out of just selling cakes
(23:26) What cake Jen is most proud of
(24:46) What tools Jen uses in her business
(28:20) Where to find Jen Mello
TORI: Where do you find your biggest source of inspiration?
Jen: A lot of times, inspiration comes from my lovely customers. If people ask me for something enough, I’ll tend to be like, “Oh, well maybe that’s something I should figure out how to deliver.” Heather from The Dapple was the first person who wanted a unicorn cake and I was like, “Yeah, that’s adorable.” From there, it just became a thing that so many people asked about that I decided to put it on their website. That’s kind of what happened with those portrait cakes. It’s something that’s just requested so much that I decide to make it more official.
TORI: What makes Spotted Dog Bakery a standout in the pet bakery industry?
Jen: The goal is to create something like a picture perfect memory for you and your pup and their special day. So our cakes are designed to be a little bit less typical than paw prints and bones and cutesy. We wanted to take dog bakeries out of the 90s and push a little bit more on that modern design. I loved doing watercolor art on cakes for humans. And when I left the human bakery world, I was like, “That’s what I want to do.” It didn’t occur to me that I would be doing it for dogs, but that makes it all the better. Dogs are such happy customers. We’ve never had a dog that didn’t like your cake.
TORI: How do you approach dog bloggers and other business owners for collaborations?
Jen: A lot of times, they’ll approach me, which is lovely and fun. If we’re going back and forth with ideas and kind of vibe off each other, that’s always a good sign that the end project is going to work out really well. In the beginning, like Heather from The Dapple specifically, I reached out to her because I really liked her style of photography. So I told her I would love to work with her in any way, shape or form. And that was one of the people that I reached out to for my ambassador program so I met a lot of people through that. Honestly, a lot of people just reach out to me via Instagram messages or emails.
TORI: How do your dogs influence the products you make?
Jen: We started out with Havarti and then got Butters after 9 months. Butters was supposed to be her little play pal, but he is a couch potato so that didn’t work out well. Then I randomly stumbled into a shelter 3 years ago and found Noodle, who makes up our third pup. And because they are dachshunds, they struggle with their weight. So that’s been my main goal is to create things I can give them that aren’t going to push our health goals way out of the window.
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