Gracie Jagler turned her love for dogs into a successful start-up.
Posted in , Apr 23, 2019
In February 2016, 19-year-old Gracie Jagler of Watertown, Wisconsin, launched her own business selling all-natural dog treats. In its first four months of operation, Gracie’s Doggie Delights recorded sales in 48 states. A remarkable success for any start-up, but this teenager is no ordinary entrepreneur.
Gracie has Down syndrome. “The idea for Gracie’s business started out of our frustration over the lack of opportunity for people with disabilities,” Gracie’s dad, John, says. “We wanted her to do something she would enjoy. She loves our three rescue schnauzers, so we knew that a job helping animals would be a great fit.”
John spoke to a friend who runs a butcher shop. “He has two industrial machines to freeze-dry meat and agreed to sell us bite-size treats at a wholesale price,” John says.
The treats, which include chicken, beef, lamb, turkey and cheese curds (a Wisconsin specialty), come in large boxes. Gracie weighs and packages them into smaller containers for retail sale. The business operates out of the family’s basement. “Gracie loves going to work each day,” John says. “Her favorite job is placing the labels on the packages.”
Gracie’s Doggie Delights is a family affair, but Dad confirms that Gracie is the boss. “She loves telling her mom and me, as well as her brother and sister, what to do. If we make a mistake, she pretends to fire us.”
For Gracie, the best part of running her own business is seeing photos of the dogs that enjoy her treats. She calls them her G-dogs. “Gracie doesn’t understand the money aspect,” John says. “She is motivated by the fact that what she does makes dogs happy.”
John and his wife, Heidi, have seen their daughter’s confidence soar since starting her business. “She’s more open to trying new things, and she’s proud of what she’s doing,” he says. “She’s thriving and happy.” And grateful to her customers. Gracie sends a hand-signed thank-you note with each order.
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