20: Creating Competitive Advantage with Emily Ascolillo
How do you stand out from your competition and foster a healthy competitive advantage in your animal, equine or pet-based industry when it feels like new businesses are popping up all around you? Kim and Cara chat with Emily Ascolillo-Downey, owner of Quite Fetching, a pet bakery and boutique located in Grafton, MA, about just what it takes to rise above the noise and stand out in a way that has continued to grow her business from an idea founded on the love of a special pet and on through a pandemic.
Our Big 3 Takeaways
Be mindful of your mission.
Understanding your WHY will pull you through the hard days of entrepreneurship. Come back to your mission anytime you have to make a tough decision or feel like you are getting a little off course. Your mission, your WHY, is what makes your business unique and will keep your tribe coming back over and over again.
Foster and nurture your community relationships.
Build relationships with other business owners in your community. Cheer each other on. Celebrate each other’s successes. Support one another. Collaborate where possible. These are the relationships that you can rely on when in a pinch or just having a bad day and you need support from someone who understands what it’s like as a business owner.
Take advantage of community resources and relationships.
Make time to attend local community networking events, interact in community groups, and attend local events. There are so many resources available to small business owners if you are willing to get involved.
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Emily Ascolillo is the owner of Quite Fetching, a pet bakery & boutique located in Grafton, MA. A dog mom herself, Emily created a fun and inviting environment for pet parents to gather, shop and talk all things dog. Founded out of the love and loss of her beloved pup Rags, Emily is committed to providing a top quality product and place for the pups and people who love them.
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Transcripts are autogenerated and may contain typographical and grammar errors. This transcript is copyright©2021 Kimberly Beer and Cara Taylor Swift. DO NOT COPY in whole or part without written permission.
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Cara Taylor Swift 0:00
Hey there business animals. This is Cara. I just wanted to share a few things about the episode that you’re about to hear that we recorded with Emily Ascolillo. I met Emily in another world completely where we were both working in a totally different career. The crazy thing is, is that we’re both running animal based businesses today, which is how we got reconnected. One of the things I’ve always admired about Emily, which holds true today is her positive, purpose driven mentality towards all that she does, including running her own animal based business, Kim and I want you all to watch out for three things today from this episode. First of all, Emily talks a lot about being mindful to your mission. And coming back to that anytime you have a tough decision you need to make in your business, or you’re not sure what your next step should be. The second thing Emily talks a lot about in this episode is fostering and then nurturing community relationships with other businesses, whether they’re like your business, or completely different from your business, you never know where those relationships will take you and when they’re going to come in handy in times of crisis. The third thing Emily talks about is the way that she uses resources and that community in innovative ways in her business. We hope you guys enjoyed this episode. We sure did. And I really love getting to connect with Emily again and learn about her business.
Welcome to The Business Animal podcast. settle up for a gallop to the top of the animal industry, where you’ll learn how to tame your wild business beast with tips, techniques, and tools that will take overwhelm to obedience school and have you wagging your tail with joy. And now your hosts Kim Beer and Cara Taylor Swift
Kimberly Beer 1:40
Hey there I’m Kim with Be More Business and I’m Cara with Fast Horse Photography. Today we are super excited to have Emily Ascolillo. with us. Emily is the owner of quite fetching a pet bakery and boutique located in Grafton Massachusetts. She’s a dog mom herself, Emily created a fun and inviting environment for pet parents to gather, shop, and talk all things dogs. Founded out of the love and loss of her beloved pup rags. Emily is committed to providing a top quality product and a place for the pups and people who love them. And I have to just start by saying I know Emily, we go way back, we go way back to living in Key West Florida enjoying the Fantasy Fest experience from a glass window that was mirrored and people walking by and showing checking their costumes in the front of the glass. For those who don’t know what fantasy fest is you got to look it up. And we both did domestic violence work together. And we have both now found ourselves in a totally different line of work running our pet based businesses. We both are self described accidental entrepreneurs as we’ve learned, and it’s been really fun to reconnect with her. So Kim and I are super excited to bring Emily to the podcast so that she can share her experiences. Welcome, Emily.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 2:56
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. This is gonna be a fun afternoon. I forgot about that mirror. I forgot about all the door with the two way
Cara Taylor Swift 3:04
Yeah, the mirrored glass door with the people like scantily dressed in their costumes and stuff before they headed down to Duval Street for the fantasy fest Kim, have you ever been seen fantasy fest or been to fantasy fest? No.
Kimberly Beer 3:18
Well, um, Missouri that Yeah, Missouri, probably clad things that walk past my window or goats. Horses maybe if you chicken. If there’s a scantily clad person looking in my window, it’s gonna you’re calling the cops. No cops. No time for that. We’re 45 minutes away from them. Go get the gun in the dog time. Yeah.
Cara Taylor Swift 3:49
Well, we’re so excited to have you here. And when I saw that you are running. I think you even call it a pet barkery we did pet boutique, which I think is the coolest thing ever. And I your husband, Kevin, I saw a video the other day of him in a squirrel costume delivering treats or a cake or something to some of your clients. And my husband and I were crying laughing was the best thing ever. And I’m probably going to try to share it to our Instagram. So people are our Facebook page so that people can see it. It’s so genius. It’s genius marketing. I love it. But that’s not what we’re here to talk to you about today. Or maybe it is maybe on
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 4:34
Cara Taylor Swift 4:44
Emily, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about how you started a pet barkery and boutique. Can you tell us a little bit about where Quite Fetching came from?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 4:52
Sure. So as you had mentioned, and the terminology came from your first podcast that I listened to that that just struck me every chord with me I became an accidental entrepreneur when I was living in Key West Florida. I was 26 years old, and I met a pup named Rags. And he ended up coming home with me that day. And he traveled with me for the next 14 years, when he passed away, we were living up here in Massachusetts, and to say it shattered my heart into a million pieces is probably even a bit of an understatement. So I wasn’t sure I wasn’t sure what to do without him. And long story short, I decided to just start this little organization called Road Trips for Rags. And every weekend, my husband and I would go to the grocery store with 20 bucks in our pocket, and we would buy cans of food and some dog treats. And we would go to a shelter in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, and we would make a little donation in his name and other pets that we knew that had crossed over the rainbow bridge. And I started a Facebook page, because I found so much comfort from that I started a Facebook page and I opened it up to everybody. And I you know, no donation was ever necessary to have your pet recognized on a memory card. And that was just how I kept him with me for the next few years. We would donate we we shipped things down to Mississippi and all over and it just brought me a lot of comfort. And I was still working in the fields of domestic violence then. And the systems had changed a lot since I had first started working in that field. And if somebody had even said to me two months, three months prior to starting Quite Fetching that I would be leaving my job and starting a pet bakery and be like you’re out of your mind. What are you talking about? I love what I do, but but it happened. I was we were baking cookies, it was November of 2016. And we were baking dog cookies for a fundraiser for Road Trips for Rags, we wanted to make a couple of nice holiday donations to some shelters in the area. And so it’s like, let’s make dog cookies and sell them. And so we were making those dog cookies. And my phone was just ringing off the hook from work. And I just I looked at my phone, I looked at the dog cookies, I looked at my husband and I said I think I’m done. I want to do this, can I do this? And he was like, sure, just don’t quit your job just yet. I was like, Okay, so the next day, I went back to work. And I also looked at how to register those cookies. And so that that began the process. And I scheduled a pop up event, Valentine’s Day felt like an opportune time to share the dog love. And so that’s what I did. I continued to work, I registered those cookies. And I threw caution to the wind and we did a pop up event. And that’s that’s essentially how it got started. We had a very successful afternoon and my husband was like, oh, my goodness, I Wow, I didn’t I didn’t really think we’d get this far. But here we are. So that that started the journey that started the journey. And here we are 2021. We started we officially incorporated in 2017. And here we are in 2021
Cara Taylor Swift 8:02
still going strong. Now you have moved from pop ups to you have a brick and mortar location, correct?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 8:08
Yes, as an accidental entrepreneur, I didn’t know the first thing about business is I’m still really learning as I go. But boy have I learned a lot. I didn’t even know where to start. I was fortunate enough where with Road Trips for Rags, I had already started to build this community of like minded people have pet parents who were grieving who understood the love and loss that an animal brings into your life. And so I attribute that to much of the success of the first day that we had. And it happened to be in the Grafton Inn, which is an old historic Inn. And they had a little retail spot in the front of the inn that was not being used. And so after the event happened, I kind of looked at that space. And I said, I wonder if he’d be interested in renting that to me. And the first couple of weeks. He said no, he had plans for it. And so I go in for dinner, we’d go in for a drink, and I’d go up too bad could have made a couple of bucks on that today. And so I I kept sort of, you know, presenting the idea in little in little ways. And he finally gave in and he said okay, fine, but we’re going month to month and I can’t make any promises. I really want to have this this other business come in and this is part of the plan. And I said okay, great, fine, I’ll take it and I thought what better way to open then on St. Patrick’s Day in a bar and restaurant because you know, even if we didn’t get a customer, we had the foot traffic. And so that’s that’s how it started there. And we did our farmers markets. So I was I was fortunate enough to build my community in a small little space that was affordable to me. And while I was while I was exiting and making the transition from my other my other fields and then I just feel like what’s meant to be will find Way, and just so happens that the building across the street, the townhouse that on the common, had been under renovation for years, and I really didn’t know what was happening with it. And I just thought I was driving by the town hall and I said, You know what, let me let me swing into the city municipal center and see what’s going on with that. So I went in, I walked into the town administrator’s office and I said, Hi, I’m Emily. I’m just wondering what’s going on with the retail spaces at One Grafton Common? And he said, funny, you should come in he goes, we’re actually we’re, we’ve got somebody who’s taking over the master lease, they’re coming in, we’re signing everything tomorrow, the attorneys blah, blah, blah, I’ll give him your card. So excellent, great, thanks so much. And here’s a dog cookie. And, and this is what we do. And I’d be interested. So lo and behold, they I guess they all signed the paperwork, he gave the new proprietor of the building my information, and I met with him. And he had originally showed me a space downstairs, and I said, You know, I really kind of was interested in the one up top. And when we opened the door, he goes, Oh, sure, you want to take a look? When we opened the door? I could see it. I could see it. I could see the people, I could see the laughter I could see the community gathering. And I said, this is this is the one. And so I said, Sure, I’ll sign a lease. I had $300 in my Quite Fetching checking account. So it was probably not the best, the best decision. I don’t know, if you would you would tell young entrepreneurs just dive right in. Don’t worry if you have any money. Because, you know, I ended up I ended up learning the hard way on a few things. Because of some of those, jump right in chances I took but for this one in particular, it ended up working out Okay, so I signed the lease, and then I went, Oh my god, how am I going to what am I going to do? And so I went down to the Small Business Center down here in Worcester, they have a nice free service and resource down there. And I took advantage of it. And lo and behold, I expedited some processes and rent got paid on time and and we hit the ground running.
Cara Taylor Swift 12:07
And there you are, I have to say I have enjoyed following your journey. And one of the things that I’ve loved so much is is how creative you have been. I mean, I saw a cake the other day that was literally celebrating a dog being neutered. I don’t know what the official name was for it. Yeah, that’s it was hilarious. And right up my alley. So anyway, I was just loving it so much. But one of the things that I think you do an amazing job of is, you’re so creative, you’re so different. You are always looking for the next thing. And how do you think you do such an amazing job because your your market is so niche, or nitch is as Kim would say. your market is so niche and you do such a great job, though? a niche. Do you say you say niche when you’re being cool? You know,
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 12:52
I have to say after hearing it when I’m with the cool kids. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I was afraid this might come up after listening to that first podcast. I was like, Hey, what do I say? Do I call it a niche or nitch? Yeah. So
Cara Taylor Swift 13:06
yeah, you know, it’s whatever, we don’t care. It’s the intent behind it.
Kimberly Beer 13:10
So we don’t care.
Cara Taylor Swift 13:11
We don’t care. If you want to call it an issue. Yeah, yeah, it’s all good. I
Kimberly Beer 13:18
have all the things to stress about that’s. Yeah,
Cara Taylor Swift 13:23
but I do think, you know, do in business we don’t need. I do think you do an amazing job of creating that kind of competitive advantage in a niche market. Can you talk to us a little bit about like, what are your big points around? Like, like, what do you think really helps you do that?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 13:40
There’s so many things that influenced my, my day to day. Oh, yes. Yeah, that’s exactly what I did. Actually. That’s good. Can your audience hear that dog barking?
Cara Taylor Swift 13:53
You’ll stop in
a second. So, so to go to that point, that’s where I get my creativity from. The dogs give us so much. You know, there’s that old saying that dogs do speak, you just have to know how to listen. Right? And that’s so true. I am the mom of four and I look at them and they look back at me like what are you doing? That’s pineapple. I don’t want pineapple. I want sweet potato. Yeah.
Cara Taylor Swift 14:19
What do you baking today mom?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 14:21
So you know, I get my I get my ideas and my creativity from the energy that I’m fortunate enough to have myself surrounded by on a day to day you know, we’ve we’ve created a community here where people come in and they they come in with with a lighter heart or even when they come in with a heavy heart. You know, that is something that we talk about and it inspires me. I do look to the internet. For some things Tick Tock is a crazy place. Sometimes I’ll see things and I’m like, Oh my God, that is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I need to make I need to make a cactus cake like This is just, and there’s a national day for everything, which is also
Cara Taylor Swift 15:05
fun and inspiring something.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 15:07
Cara Taylor Swift 15:08
You’ve talked a lot about Rags, which was your ultimate inspiration, I think for working in this type of environment for working with dogs and creating something in his honor. Can you talk a little bit about how your mission affects your day to day and your creative advantage?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 15:26
You know, I think reminding myself every day to even to reread that sometimes that we started out of grief, which I needed, I knew I wasn’t the only one, right, I knew I was people who come in sometimes and be like, you’re gonna think I’m, you’re gonna think I’m nuts, but I’m like, okay, you can try me on that, but I’m pretty sure. Pretty sure I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna judge you on this one. So people will come in, and they’ll say, you know, you’re gonna think I’m nuts. But I’m, I’m doing a birthday party for my friend, or my friend’s dog, or, you know, I lost my dog. And, and I can’t, I couldn’t come in right away, because the grief was so heavy, and it was so much. And so creating a community first, just through Facebook, right, where we could share condolences, where we could share those things, I have a wonderful opportunity to here to share all of those life moments with people, you know, when they get a new puppy, when they, when they unfortunately have to say goodbye to one, you know, I wanted to create a place I was I don’t have human children. And there was there was very few people who understood my connection with Rags. Until then, until I found my my tribe sort of speak and I could go out there. And you know, in the beginning, you just sort of go through the process and you go through the mission. And you don’t realize what I didn’t realize at the time is that I was building such a such a family of human connection and human experience. And so that’s what I try to remind myself every day when I’ve got a deadline coming up on a cake, or someone needs something last minute, or the bills are getting tight, or whatever it is sales, or whatever it is, I take a deep breath. And I look out these beautiful windows and I look around me and I’m very aware that I’ve created exactly what I set out to do. And I’m very, very grateful for that. And I try to remember that in everything that I do, because there will be people that come in and they’re not your people. And that’s okay, use the things, those emotions and to use those experiences that we’ve all had over the years to continue to foster our business.
Kimberly Beer 17:45
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Cara Taylor Swift 18:18
Well, I know you had talked about the idea of you always come back to your mission, which for you was creating that space for other dog parents that wanted to celebrate their dog, either they got a new puppy or they’re, you know, like you mentioned the folks that come in with their dogs going through chemo and they wanted to give him a special treat that they would be happy to eat or you know, but you have your the space that you’ve created, that community is like a safe space for for people to come in and be a part of and now how does that so it’s a place to hang out basically, how do you see that translate to dollars?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 18:53
you got to sell a lot of 1.50 biscuits to pay the rent, right? And so I wasn’t I wasn’t sure how I was going to do that, you know, build it and they will come right. I supplemented with retail but I was able to host events I was I really feel like I leave one home every day and I come to another and so I just happen to have an open door policy where everything’s for sale too like in the boutique so you can come in and so you can come in with your cup of coffee and your dog give them a little playtime and something I hope will make you laugh out loud you’ll see something that you didn’t know you needed. And that’s just sort of how it’s worked. And we’ve we’ve created such community connections that my business has gone into another direction now of wholesale, we’re back at the Grafton Inn but now on the second floor in their kitchen talking about coming sort of full circle with with things over the years. And so now we can supplement some of our day to day retail. Retail is a hard game to play. It really is it wasn’t my intent or part If my mission and quite frankly, I don’t really like it. I’m not a business person in that I’ve learned and I certainly have some insight and some know how now, but with the things just like with the community, I buy things that make me laugh out loud. I fill my boutique with things that will put a smile on your face. I have a I don’t know if I’m gonna be bleeped on this. But we have a mat that says, I hope you like asshole dogs, and
Cara Taylor Swift 20:28
like a welcome mat?
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 20:31
welcome mat. Yeah. And I love every pup that comes in here, every every animal I’ve ever met, they all have a story just like we do. And their behavior is a result of their experiences, right? So so I don’t know, necessarily if they’re assholes, maybe just a little misunderstood. But my bloodhound Mable’s, one of those dogs, and I love her to death. But I was scrolling through my wholesale website looking for new things to put in. And I was like, Oh, my God, Kevin, come look at this. And he read it. And so those are the things that I fill my home with. Those are the things that I fill my boutique with. And I think just like anything else, I don’t I don’t buy things because it’s going to make me a million bucks. I buy things because I can see it in my home. I can see it relating to you. So everything I do, I try really hard to go back to that mission of we’re dog parents, we’re dog people, and I get it, you know, and you’re gonna think I’m crazy. No, no, no, no. Do you want the squirrel to deliver that crazy birthday cake to your house? Because we can do that too. Now like you have a squirrel and like, yeah, trump’s, your crazy didn’t I!
Cara Taylor Swift 21:41
That is awesome. Can you talk a little bit? You’ve mentioned community a couple times can you talk about how you’ve fostered and then continue to nurture community with other similar businesses or businesses in your community to help support
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 21:54
each other? You know, one of the things my father always used to say to me is one hand feeds the other. And he’s so he’s so right, and that there were many people I met when I first started and not necessarily to collaborate with, but to support and to and to be their cheerleader on certain days, and to also learn from them. So there is a bakery in Worcester that we work with. And I’ve looked to her for so many things, I don’t even know if she realizes how much she has. She has taught me over the years, just from simple conversations we’ve had, she has pupcakes and she’s primarily human bakery, but she has pupcakes she was using a store bought brand. I said, you know, let me see if she if she’d be interested in carrying ours. So I messaged her one day and she was like, Oh my gosh, absolutely. I’d love to support a small business, then this big chain store where I go get my you know, absolutely let me and so we just started this relationship. And you know, I would go down and I’d share a little posts and vice versa, she would kind of and you know, and we’d laugh together. And you know, I’d make a little special something for her puppy, even though she makes pupcakes. And does dog cakes. And we never really were in competition with each other. We were just two women trying to you know, do our thing every day. And because of that it was the craziest weekend ever a few weeks ago, and I didn’t have any my delivery was late. I didn’t have any I didn’t have any bags, for customers to actually buy things and take them out of my store. So my husband was going down to deliver some cookies. And I said, Can you ask her please, if she just has 50 bags, and I’ll pay her and she had them? And she was like, Oh my gosh, sure. Yeah, take do you need the box? Do you need what do you need? and little things like that to support one another to not be in competition with each other all the time, you know, there’s enough pupcakes to go around. And to just use those relationships for every aspect of our day in ways that you don’t even know you’re going to need them, you know, whether that be sharing in grief or loss or when COVID hit Oh, my goodness, right. And that was everybody’s head was spinning. You know, we cried together. We didn’t know what that meant for our business. But at the same token, we all sort of got to laugh and say, Well, I guess we can clock out today and go have a cocktail like I want to zoom later. Like I guess, I guess we we can take the day off and we’ll regroup tomorrow. And you know, we support each other. I had heard from business owners in my community that I only see maybe on a Facebook page or a networking page or something and they checked in they were like how are you doing? And I’m like, Oh my gosh, how are you? And then I remember the message one one time from this woman It was so long and and I my heart just reached out to her on every aspect. And that’s what got us through though right? It was this little and later on when we all reopened and stuff she sent a message back and she said I can’t thank you enough for just that. That little heart emoji you sent on that one day where I thought you know and so it’s all of those things and then going oh my gosh, my registers down. Do you have any Can I use your square can I do You know, and so that’s it, you know, it’s it’s building can be we’re all in it together, we can only do what we can do. But we, we need to support each other. And we need to be mindful that we’re all just doing the best we can.
Cara Taylor Swift 25:12
Well, I love that idea of creating community and the thought process behind like, become friends with these people, but you’ve got other businesses that are maybe similar to yours, maybe they’re just conveniently located next door, and you start developing these relationships. And it’s more than just calling on them when you need them, it’s supporting each other building each other up, you know, referring to each other, sharing each other’s information. And then when crisis hits, they’re there for you, because you didn’t just call on them in crisis, you were supporting them and developing that relationship all along.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 25:42
Absolutely. The relationships we’ve built here with Quite Fetching in our community are genuine, we don’t fake it, when we come in, like dogs don’t fake it, right? either. Either they’re nervous, or they’re happy, or they’re right. Like we can see the transparency in their behavior. And that’s what we respect about it. That’s what we love about it, that’s what we hold dear in our hearts is that they live in the moment. They’re true to their their feelings. And I think that we’ve been very fortunate where we’ve created an environment I’ve been able to foster and nurture these relationships that are genuine, you know, I truly, you can’t fake sadness when your pup dies. Or when your the government tells you that your business has to close indefinitely, you can have the best business plan in the world. But if your heart and soul are not driving that if your genuine first mission isn’t the guiding force behind that every day, I don’t know if it’s going to be as successful as it could be otherwise, you know, you can open up a bookstore, but if you don’t like to read, how good are you going to be? Right? So I think, you know, remembering that all of this was born and facilitated and came to fruition out of the love that we had for our dog. And the fact that I felt kind of alone. I felt I felt pretty isolated in that grief, like you hear all the time. Well, it was just a dog or oh you know, or dog died or whatever. But man, it’s so much more than that. So just carrying that having that been the common thread in every day life. I mean, that’s not to say, we don’t get frustrated, and I’m not like no, you got Oh, I’m sorry, I only have two bags left. What do you want me to Okay, no, take one. Take one and what you know, like we go through these real life struggles, right? But at the end of the day, it’s genuine. And and I’m perfectly fine. Cara, if you needed my last bag and a customer came in, I’m like, Can I help you to your car that that horse lady took my last bag? Just stay true to it to just stay true. And then when you do have those bad days, people recognize that too. I was here one day, and I just had a boatload of stuff going on. And a friend of mine came in and she said You look tired. Can I give you can I get you a cup of coffee? Can I get you something? And I just said, You know, I am tired. And I just kind of started to cry a little bit. But it was okay. It was okay. And there was no fear of judgment. There was no fear of Oh god, she’s not gonna come back because I just dumped a bunch of stuff on her. You know, I think staying staying true to that. And that’s my background, right? I was a social worker psychology is my thing. I’ve always sort of been a little more empathetic, I think to the emotion behind things, which hasn’t always made me a good business person. But I do believe that things come back. We talked about that earlier. Right. You know, a lot of times people say you give too much stuff away, you’re in business. And I agree. I agree that I do need to pay the bills. Like you had said in a previous podcast. You know, boundaries are important because you do deserve time with your family. You do deserve to pay your bills, you do deserve all of these things. But I feel like with with the smaller things, right? Like I’m not giving away the rent money. It’s a cupcake because the dog just came in and and he’s beautiful. And I love him and I have an extra cupcake. And what’s the harm, it’s balanced itself out, the rent still gets paid and the dog gets a cupcake and it’s all good.
Cara Taylor Swift 29:07
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I love that. So can you talk a little bit about you know how you use resources really to become more innovative in your business, like what types of things do you enjoy? Like, are you a podcast listener? Do you attend community meetings? Like what what do you do to stay kind of one step ahead of the game in your community,
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 30:12
I need to do more of those things. listening to your podcasts actually was really actually inspiring. It was really inspiring. The first episode you did was Accidental Entrepreneurship. And I was nodding my head the entire time. And I don’t think it was a fun episode.
Unknown Speaker 30:29
It was, you
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 30:30
know, and I don’t make enough time for those things all the time. And I think that’s something that’s super, super important to do, what I use, you know, the community resources, there’s always something fun going on. I think I mentioned I went down and I used the SBA free services down at Clark. And I don’t consider myself a formal networker. You know, I don’t care so much for those 7am meetings, but but they do have value, I do leave them a little bit more motivated than I was before. And I think all of those things bring value and creativity to the day. So the resources that I use, or the community or the people around me, there’s a couple of local breweries we work with. And there’s just always something going on. There’s so much fun, right? And you make a cake on anything right to represent anything. And so that’s where my inspiration comes from. And a little bit of Tick Tock now that I found that fancy app, Oh, my goodness. I just can’t get over it. I can I’ve got so many ideas in my head and getting them getting them to fruition. So you know, kind of going back to Mabel and my own home. Mabel has really created her own community.
Cara Taylor Swift 31:37
Mabel is one of your dogs, right? Just for the audience. The listeners out there.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 31:41
Mabel is one of the dogs and actually Cara. That’s where the squirrel came from. So it wasn’t like we were just sitting around one day and go, what can we do? What can we do? So the way the squirrel came about was we adopted Mabel, and she loves to chase squirrels. I mean, honestly, what dog doesn’t, and so we were gonna throw a birthday party for we were like, go nuts, Mabels turning three. And I had and I was like, Oh my gosh, we need a squirrel suit. Like this would be so fun. We’ll do like little squirrel photos and stuff. And that’s how we did. So we had little glasses made up with a squirrel juggling acorns. And we had the squirrel come, and I’ve had peanuts all around the boutique. And we had squirrel logs and like it was amazing. And then when the pandemic hit, we thought, Oh my gosh, what are we going to do? Right? And so we offered curbside pickup and I was like maybe we can do to delivery, oh my god, we can have a squirrel deliver dog cakes to people. They can socially distance and they can be on the lawn and oh my gosh, this is going to be great. And I think I think I went right to Amazon and saw if they had an acorn cake pan. And they did not they did not so Wilson if you’re listening a couple of acorn cake pans
Cara Taylor Swift 32:59
to make your own and sell them. So that’s,
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 33:01
well that’s what we did. That’s what we did. That’s what we did. Kind of going back to being more creative than then having a sort of a business sense. Numbers are not my strong point. And let me tell you how many times I’ve thought I was getting something that was regular size, and I’m like, Oh my god, it’s the size of a thimble.
Cara Taylor Swift 33:20
We’ve all done that. Oh my gosh, I
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 33:22
thought I was gonna say I was so proud of myself one Christmas. I was like, Kevin, I saved just $200 on bags. They’ll be here tomorrow. It’s gonna be great. They showed up. I’m like, are these for jewelry? I can’t fit a cookie in here.
Cara Taylor Swift 33:37
So you got to resell them.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 33:40
Well, so you know what I did? You know what I did? I brought them next door. We have a there’s a beautiful country store next door to where we are. And she says jewelry. And I said can you use these because clearly I’m not fitting a dog biscuit into these. And she did. And she she could use them. And you know, she’s like, oh, what
do I owe you? I’m
like, don’t worry about it. No big deal. And then I don’t know, a few months later, I went over and I needed whatever. And she’s like, oh, here, take this or whatever. So you know what I mean? Like, that’s how one hand feeds the other I didn’t need the $80 back that I spent on the bags. What I needed was a ruler in front of me to measure how guide how big those bags were going to be. But um, so you know, it really all goes back with everything that we do to just you find your creativity and the relationships that you built and the experiences that you have, you know, we talked about Key West and Fantasy Fest and all of those things that we take with us that we don’t even know we’re going to need later on in life or that we even learned from them. But we do you know, it’s it’s so cliche to just stop and smell the roses right but but it’s so important to be mindful every single day about what’s in front of you and live like the dogs do. The dog gets into the car and they don’t know if they’re going to the vet or the bakery but they’re equally as excited. Right and we can learn some things So we can we can learn something.
Kimberly Beer 35:02
That’s awesome. So awesome.
I want to be equally excited about every place that I go.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 35:10
Because you really don’t know what experience that’s going to hold for you, and when you can use that later on in life.
Kimberly Beer 35:16
Cara Taylor Swift 35:17
So Emily, what advice would you give to the the novices out there, the folks that are thinking about starting their own animal based business, not necessarily as a pet Baker, but just in general, they’re starting their businesses, and they are just looking, they’re they’re out there right now pulling in all the information they can do you have any advice you’d like to just one thing you’d like to share,
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 35:37
try not to focus too much on what other people are doing out there focus on what makes you unique, and what you can bring to the table, I may have 20, dog bakers around me. And we can all create something very different. And each one is going to appeal to a different market, a different audience, a different person, depending on what they’re going through with their day. So why do you go to one restaurant instead of another, maybe some days, you know, you’re in the mood for one cup of coffee, as opposed to another, you know, stay true to yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not. And it’s really hard not to fall down that that line, I think you and I talked about that earlier, where you know, you got to sell a lot of biscuits to be a Dog Bakery. And so I’ve been inundated with people over the years saying, what about grooming? What about putting a grooming salon in the back? Or what about doing dog walking. And those are not what my mission was, those were not the things that I intended to do when I set out to do them. So while some things have an advantage, and you can absolutely go down different roads and grow in different directions. Try not to feel overwhelmed by what other people are doing. It can really detract from your own nitch or niche or
Kimberly Beer 36:48
Cara Taylor Swift 36:51
Niche… along those regards, Emily, you’re absolutely right. I mean, you mentioned the person earlier, it looked like they were busy. They were rocking it on social media. And the reality is, is most of the time we’re seeing their highlight reel. And we really don’t know what’s going on in that business. So if we can reel ourselves in and stay focused on our mission, I mean, it makes such a big difference. So Kim, is there anything else that you want to ask Emily,
Kimberly Beer 37:15
I don’t want to ask her anything. But I just want to add Emily, I love your energy. And my business is based on helping people become sustainable entrepreneurs. That means being able to maintain their lifestyle as an entrepreneur, long term, because let’s face it, most of us who get into this and do what we love, we want to do it until we literally cannot do it anymore. It’s a passion project. It’s something that we adore. And something that I usually start people off with is is getting them to understand their why and when you can relate to your why it is your go juice. It’s what makes all the difference in your business because it those hard days it can pull you right through. And your entire episode today has been a testimonial to understanding your why and how important that is in being able to keep moving in a business no matter what what comes by your your window, whether it be a scantily clad person, some weird festival you all have in Florida, or whether it be COVID or connecting to your neighbors. So I love that you are very connected to that and your energy is so amazing. And I really appreciate all your input for our listeners today. I hope they’ve gotten as much out of this as I have. I just want to celebrate you and be your cheerleader.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 38:40
Thank you so much. Thank you so much. You know I’m free anytime if you want to make this a you know
Cara Taylor Swift 38:53
that nature then Emily, why don’t you tell all of the listeners where they can find you online.
Emily Ascolillo-Downey 38:58
We’re on Instagram Quite Fetching Barkery We would love a follow. Mabel may get a little little full of herself but but we would love it we would love it and where you can find us on Facebook. Our website is quitefetching.com if anybody has any questions, you can email me at Emily@quitefetching.com. We currently because we do bake fresh to order and we have all of our fresh ingredients we literally I literally get up every morning at 5am to make sure that these pups have a fresh cake before them. We don’t currently ship our cakes, but we do ship our cookies and right now actually speaking of Florida, anytime we ship to Monroe County $1 a bag goes back to Billy Davis a Positive Step of Monroe County you know never forget where you came from interactions born and raised in Key West so it’s it’s very dear to our heart that I can give back to somebody who gave me so much back in the day and kind of give it back to Rags as rags is a little community too. So if there’s anything to that other businesses or other people out there need we’re also always happy to to give a donation of our cookies. So people can fundraise towards their mission as well. So thank you for having me.
Cara Taylor Swift 40:04
Thank you so much. And you guys, if you haven’t, I mean, I’m assuming you all right now are pulling up your phone and you’re following Emily online. But her feeds her Instagram and her Facebook feed are hilarious. They are filled with the cutest pup faces, the cutest cookies and cakes that a dog could ever want. And I’m continuously laughing at the stuff you come up with and make cakes out of. And I would just definitely encourage folks to head over click those like buttons and show some love over there because it is it is inspiring. It really is. So Emily, thank you so much for joining us today. It was really fun to catch up with you and reminisce a little bit before about our old days and the keys and I love following you online and seeing your happy dog family. So thank you so much. Thank you so much.
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