When Debbie Hendrickx from, Swell Gelato For Dogs, wrote me several months ago about an upcoming trip to San Diego to market her gelato I knew we had to go. Being an ice cream fanatic myself I assumed Pax followed in that passion. After meeting Debbie and trying the gelato myself I wanted to learn more about her incredibly delicious small business!! Being an entrepreneur I am always looking to connect with other founders - especially female founders. In a way they start to feel like co-workers. It’s fascinating to learn about how other people build their businesses and what drives them to get up everyday and keep at it! Below is a transcribed interview that I had with Debbie. Her contact information is included so make sure to check her out and try some gelato!
Please tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally!
“Growing up in Belgium I've had 2 passions my whole life. One came on when I was a teenager : fashion. The other I truly believe I was born with : dogs. I was lucky enough to have a career as a corporate buyer in the fashion world for 18 years but not nearly as lucky as when it came to an end. The closing of that first chapter allowed me to dip a toe in the second. That toe-dip quickly escalated to a full immersion and now my life is constantly covered in gelato and dog hair and I've never been happier.”
Please provide your social media handles below (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).
FB :@swellgelatofordogs , IG @swellgelatofordogs Twitter @doggelato
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
“After my retail career ended in 2016 I wanted to just take the summer off from work and stress and only do things I liked. I love gelato making and I love dogs and the idea to make gelato for dogs literally hit me in the middle of the night. Swell was one of my favorite yet greatly underused words so Swell, gelato for dogs was born. I bought a gelato cart and spent my summer in the local dog parks thinking it was just going to be a temporary and fun summer thing to do.”
Tell us more about your business and what you do!
“I make my artisanal gelatos for dogs just as if I would make them for my family and friends. I use simple yet only the highest quality ingredients and taste-test everything along the way. The result is a luxurious dessert that our furry friends can truly appreciate. It's probably a little over the top but I consider our dogs not only our best friends but also our family.”
Looking back would you do any thing different?
“Growing up, I never thought I'd end up in the USA and 15 years ago, I would have never guessed where I'd be 10 years ago. 5 years ago I would have not begun to imagine that I'd be making gelato for dogs and who knows where I will be in 10 years. So, the short answer would be no, because every step we take gets us to exactly where we are today.”
“It's all encompassing. It's financially uncomfortable . It's constantly living in the unknown.”
Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?
Be financially prepared but don't be afraid to take a chance
How do you advertise your business?
“I love being part of social media dog central communities. It's like a family of kindred spirits that all have such amazing love for their pets. As often as I can I try to get out and meet the dogs and their owners . I let word of mouth do most of my advertising but sometimes I dabble in social media advertising.”
How can clients reach you?
Is there anything else you'd like for us to know?
“Buy your pup a gelato, they will think you are so swell.”