Colleen O’Fallon owns and operates Sweet Paws Bakery in the urban community of Haile Plantation Village Center in Gainesville, Florida. With the University of Florida nearby, she carries In Dog We Trust pet products with the gator in orange and blue.
“I started baking dog treats in 2005 for Abby, my then-cocker spaniel puppy, since I didn’t like the ingredients in store-bought treats. I started selling my treats at local farmer’s markets, and when people started asking where my store was, I decided to open a physical store. I was completing my graduate degree at the time, so in 2007 I signed a 6-month lease to test the waters. 10 years later, I have been fortunate to not only keep the store, but expand it beyond gourmet dog treats to boutique items and pet care services. We ship our cakes and treats all over the United States, so I wanted to be able to offer our customers other products than just treats. I added a doggy daycare in 2009, and then a self-serve dog wash in 2016, becoming a sort of one-stop-shop for dog owners.”
“When deciding to bring in a product, I consider whether I like the product, will my customers like it, and is the product a good price point. In a college town, college-oriented products are particularly needed. Our gator fans also love the alligator orange and blue collars and harnesses Chris offers in his Preston line. Chris makes wonderful products that are stylish and durable—we love carrying them.”
“My customer base is the dog-lover’s community, people who love their pets like they are their children. These customers make sure their pets eat healthy, are well socialized, have new collars and harnesses, and live a happy life. We treat our customers like family, and indeed we share the experience of watching their puppies grow into adulthood.”
“Since I started my business online, I have always valued a robust online presence. We use Facebook and Instagram to support an environment where our customers love to tell others about us. The most important key to social media I have found is interaction. If someone comments on your post, make sure to reply—if they leave a review, make sure to thank them for taking the time out of their busy day to do so. On Instagram, follow your customers, and like and comment on their adorable dog’s pictures. Everyone wants people to appreciate how cute their pet is.”