Soooooooooooooooooooooooo…. you may have noticed I had stopped my beer inspired food series for about 3 months, until the reprise last week. Well there was a reason. Remember when I told you I had lost my job earlier this year? I had indicated in that post that I was working on a project but was not going to reveal it until it was ready.
Well it’s ready.
I started my own business, Barley Baked Goods! It is a business around two of my loves: dogs and beer. I am currently making spent barley grain dog treats and selling them locally at my Farmers’ Market and pet stores as well as online (if you are in the United States). I named the dog treat after Boomer, calling them Boomer’s Barley Biscuits. He is my muse and if it weren’t for Boomer I would have never started making the biscuits in the first place.
I had initially thought about starting this business back in August of 2013, but nothing pushed me to do it. I had a good paying job (notice I didn’t say good job) and was lazy. It was not until I had lost my job that I decided to jump start my dreams of creating a business that I could control. I had also made a resolution for myself for the 2014 year to “STOP BEING LAZY”. The list of resolutions has sat in plain sight at my desk all year. I have crossed off a few of the things on the 14 items but the stop being lazy bit is probably most important. I haven’t allowed myself to cross it off yet either.
To give you a little idea of what I have been doing over the last few months here is a brief run down:
I spent most of May, while unemployed, reading what needed to be done to start a business in Idaho, my home state. I also read up on what it took to start a dog cookie business. Staring the business was going to be daunting enough, but learning all the rules and regulations for the dog treats was overwhelming.
My first venture was to source ingredients, which meant I would have to find a consistent grain, not use my home-brew grain. Luckily I had a local brewery contact in town and was able to obtain grains from them. I then sourced the rest of my ingredients, looking for high quality products. It was important to me to find quality ingredients as it supported the initial reason I started making Boomer dog treats in the first place, a healthy treat with no unnecessary fillers.
During my dog treat production research I learned that I must register my treats with the state of Idaho agriculture office. Part of the registration was to have my treats professionally tested to know the protein, fat, fiber and moisture contents in order to register my product with the state of Idaho. Also required for treat production, manufacturing in a commercial kitchen, if I intended to sell them to the public.
Luckily the small town we live in had a rentable commercial kitchen, along with all the equipment I would need to use: mixers, ovens and cookie sheets. It had everything! Attached to the commercial kitchen was a small business incubator, where they ran programs to help small business start ups.
Things were looking great for both aspects of the business until I learned that it would take 3 months to obtain my commercial feed registration from Idaho. The delay was only due to a shortage of staffing in the Agriculture office, which was disappointing to learn that was the only reason. Without the registration I would not legally be allowed to sell my treats anywhere. The largest bummer about waiting was that I was wasting away precious Farmers’ Market days, where I had intended to launch my treat line.
I was frustrated but I pressed on. I continued spending questionable amounts of money continuing to set up the business, wishing each day that my feed registration would come through early. It finally appeared in the mail the 3rd week of August and I went into action. I emailed our Farmers’ Market Manager and secured myself a booth spot for the rest of the year.
I remember the day of my first market as I was super stressed out. I did not have a lot of face to face customer service experience. Money was also an issue, the only experience I had with it was spending large amounts of it… and doing a pretty good job of that. But I had no experience making change. It was something I could learn but still stressed me out having to do that on the fly.
Luckily the first market was a mid-week market and not a Saturday market so there would be less foot traffic. I could get my ducks in a row and hopefully work out all the kinks before the following Saturday market. The first market went well, I made no mistakes and the people attending the market were kind and excited to learn about our product. It was a successful first showing and I was grateful!
Everything was flowing right along. Until I was handed another small setback about two weeks after joining the market. The commercial kitchen that I was using issued a 45 day notice to all of it’s users. It would be shutting down after being in service for 20 years. It was my second 45 day notice of the year, with my job being the first notice. I was frustrated and annoyed that I had spend a lot of money, time and energy in to getting this business up and going only to be dealt another bad card. Being that I live in a small town there are not a lot of options for other rentable commercial kitchens. And although they are “just dog treats” they do need to be made in a commercial kitchen as per the USDA and FDA regulations.
I baked my heart out for the next 45 days and froze all the biscuits and pre-made dough I could. The biscuit inventory lasted throughout the end of the Farmers’ Market but it is now running low. I have found a few other kitchen options, which luckily I have the pre-made dough made up. Some of the kitchens are only kitchens, not including equipment like the former kitchen. As I do not own a commercial mixer, this is where the pre-made dough comes into play. And buying a commercial mixer is out of the question right now.
There are rumors that the equipment from the old kitchen will be available in a new kitchen at the start of the year but still no word on when or what the hourly rentable rate is. I am super sensitive to the hourly rate as the majority of my cost is paying for the kitchen to bake the biscuits, which impacts the cost and the price of the biscuits.
So there you have it. Barley Baked Goods is why I have not been posting beer inspired food recipes for the past few months. I literally have not had the time to find recipes, make them, taste test them and then write up the blog posts. I also got a full time job working as a manager at a dog kennel. Once I started the job I really did not have any extra time. I also took a pretty hefty pay cut so the dog treats took priority as I needed to be making more money to pay my bills.
I won’t lie, this year has been a challenge. But like all challenges, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right? I hope to make more beer food inspired recipes and share them with you but they may be more sporadic. I know that is a no no in the blogging world but until I am able to find a work/life balance I may have to hold back on a few things 🙂 Hopefully it’s short-term!