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Made in the Ozarks: Mattie's Eats and Treats

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Mother-and-daughter duo Linda and Ashley Johnson had a need for allergen-free treats for their dogs, and that led them to the business they have today making pet treats out of their Rogersville homes.

Dogs and cats across the state are gobbling up their treats, through a partnership with Petsway Inc., and nationwide from online sales.

The business is named after a family dog, and Ashley freely admits Mattie was spoiled and received treats on a schedule in exchange for tricks.

SBJ: How is your business structured and what are the core products?
Ashley Johnson: We are a pet bakery, so we have dog treats and cat treats and accessories. We do dog tags, bandannas, collars and leashes, and then my mom started doing potty bells. They tap it with their nose, and they tell you they’ve got to go out.

SBJ: What are the challenges and opportunities to manufacturing pet treats in the Ozarks?
Johnson: The area is really good at nurturing small business. … Because so many small businesses are starting, the trick is getting your name out there and getting your product into stores and getting the online presence. Our biggest opportunity was getting into Petsway in 2015.

SBJ: Was it your love of animals that started the business?
Johnson: We have Yorkies. And a lot of Yorkies have food allergies, so (Linda) started making treats for her dogs because the natural treats at the store were expensive. I was sitting at work and I was just like, what can I do to be home? It just hit me. She had already made treats, and I like baking and the whole science behind it.

SBJ: Were you inspired by another business or entrepreneur?
Johnson: They used to have it here, but now they’re based out of Kansas City, Three Dog Bakery. They had a lot of information on their website about how they started small and how they grew and their story and all the changes they had gone through. I thought they did really (well), so this is something that could work.

SBJ: Do you make the treats from your home?
Johnson: She makes them out of her home, and I make some out of my home. We don’t have to have a commercial kitchen, but we have to register and be inspected by the Department of Agriculture. We have to send all of our treats out for analysis, so the consumer … knows how much protein it has and how much fat it has.

SBJ: Do you have a favorite product?
Johnson: The turkey jerky. It’s very simple; it’s just turkey, so any dog can have it that can have meat.

SBJ: What’s the goal for the future?
Johnson: Working on wholesale and getting into Pyramid Foods and Fetch [Pet Supplies and Gifts]. Apple Market would be another store.

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