Image courtesy of Siena Josse.

Meet the maker of Lil Pine dog treats.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Siena Josse. I’m 11 years old and I love animals, art, and baking. Cooking with my mom is one of my favorite things to do. She taught me everything I know about cooking. It’s relaxing and I love spending time with her. This is something special that only I do with her. 

I used to get overwhelmed very easily. I would feel really stressed and like I couldn’t breathe. I had heard that French bulldogs are great therapy dogs, so I really wanted one. Now that I have one of my own, I’m happy to say that she’s helped with my stress a lot. I used to have a meltdown every day, and since I got her I’ve only had a few.

I live in Vista, California. I like to swim, draw cats, cook homemade pasta, and bake oatmeal cookies. I love to spend time with my family, play with my dogs, and watch Modern Family with my sister. In the future, I would want my business to be very successful.

What is special about Lil Pine?

Lil Pine is really sweet and funny. I named her Lil Pine because she was the runt of the litter and reminded me of a porcupine. Something about her just makes me happy and calms me down. I don’t know how she does it but all I have to do is put her on my lap and pet her, and I just start to feel better. I think sometimes she knows when I’m upset. She snuggles up on my chest or even on my pillow with her head resting by my head. 

Image courtesy of Siena Josse.
How did you start making treats for her? What is unique about the treats and why is making them important to you?

After I picked her out, I wanted to show my parents that I was responsible enough to have her, so I started making dog treats. French bulldogs have a lot of allergies, so I wanted her to have healthy and flavorful treats. Since I met her I knew that I wanted to spoil her so selling the treats also makes it so I can shop for toys that make her as happy as she makes me.

The treats are all organic and healthy for dogs. They are very flavorful which I know because we taste-tested them! We use oat flour or whole wheat flour, chicken bone broth, peanut butter, and oats. All organic. No junk. No palm oil. No sugar. My mom and I researched recipes, and then made our own. We make all of them by hand with lots of love. We find fun shapes to use like squirrels, hearts, and a hedgehog that really looks like a porcupine.

How did you start to sell the treats? What are you learning from your experience as an entrepreneur? 

We started selling them on GoFundMe. Then people started buying more treats with cash. We also did our treat stand at the top of our driveway with a basket of treats. The dogs liked them so much that people kept asking if they could buy more, so we decided to build a website. Then we started to ask local businesses if they would want to sell them at their stores. We sold them to Public Lemon which is in Vista Village. Scott and Alexandra at The Golden Door Country Store have been helping us work out the kinks so we can sell them there. My parents took some to local breweries, too.

I’ve learned a lot. I designed my logo, learned how to create my own recipes, and pick out packaging. My mom helps me figure out how much ingredients, stickers, and packaging cost. I’m still working on approaching people and presenting my treats. I forget what to say and I get nervous. The people I’ve talked to though have been really nice and helped me become more comfortable. I’m still working on it.

So far, the big glitch we had to work on was how to make the treats last long enough. They are really fresh and sold so fast we never had to think about storage. We realized we could change the baking technique a little bit by putting them in the dehydrator. This was a big thing to figure out early on!

I’ve had a lot of support. My Aunt Dana offered to make vinyl signs for my business to help me advertise. All the neighbors walking their dogs have been buying them from the beginning and they’re happy because their dogs love them. A lot of people who work at Barrel & Stave love them, so we have customers there too. Tracy at Public Lemon gave me lots of business advice like getting refillable canisters so businesses could buy in bulk. The canisters are 100% recycled water bottles that are fished out of the ocean.

Image courtesy of Siena Josse.
What are your goals for the business?

My goals for the business are to keep paying for Lil Pine’s pet insurance and being able to buy her the things that she wants and needs. Also it has been really fun to meet so many other dogs! My parents say that they’ve noticed how much people like to connect with other dog owners. I’ve noticed that the dogs know that when they come to the stand that they’re going to get a treat.

I have a friend whose dog named Winnie can only eat prescription food, so I want to start making treats out of other ingredients like green bean flour so that dogs with sensitive stomachs, and all dogs, can eat them too. I think we’d be the first dog treat business to do that! That would feel really good.

You can follow Lil Pine on Insta at @lilpinetreats.

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