As the UK entered its first lockdown, ten-year-old Evie Steel was home from school, with a lot of time on her hands and a 3-month-old puppy, Dexter, to look after. After finding a recipe for dog biscuits in a magazine, Evie decided to try baking her own – and a year old, she is leading a thriving family business.
After selling some leftover biscuits from a honesty box on the street, Evie set off to brainstorm with her dad and create branding and packaging for the treats, temporarily named ‘Dexstars’.
The biscuits were a hit with local dog walkers, and soon enough local businesses offered Evie to stock her biscuits, showing support to the young entrepreneur. Evie chose to give back to her community and throughout 2020 she gifted her profits to “a range of worthy causes including Stewarton Woodlands Action Trust, NHS Charities, Social Bite and East Ayrshire Food Bank”.
Evie said, “We’ve all worked really hard as a family to create Ayrshire Dog Deli. We’ve developed new recipes – including Carrot Cake, Blueberry Muffin, and Apple & Cinnamon Crumble – taste testing them to refine the flavours (Dexter’s favourite part), developing new packaging, and creating a lovely new website which launched this month. Deliveries are already flying out the door, with orders from across the UK and treats even shipped to Ireland and France in the first week.”
Evie is now back in school, but her business is thriving. Fittingly for a business created during lockdown – a time of loneliness for many – Ayrshire Dog Deli has now partnered with a dog charity that is all about helping the elderly feel less lonely as well as rescuing dogs: Give a Dog a Bone, who help older people afford a rescue pet.
A study published last year in Australia shows that pets help prevent suicide among the elderly. One man involved in the research said, “I actually realised the only thing that is really keeping me alive, was these [dogs] and the birds, giving me a chance to get out of bed in the morning.”
Evie said, “Our business was born during lockdown, a time when we have all been apart from family. I have six great grandparents and I know how lonely they’ve been at times, so we couldn’t think of a better charity to support than one that brings together dogs and those suffering from loneliness.
“So every time you treat your dog by buying our handmade deli treats, you are helping too. A donation of 5p from every bag sold will be made to Give a Dog a Bone to help them with their amazing work bringing dogs and lonely people together.”