Let’s start with the one-liner – what is your company? What do you sell?
Petrina DiOrio: My company is called Brewscuits. It is an all-natural beer grain dog biscuits.
Tell us your origin story.
Petrina DiOrio: We are homebrewers and after brewing one day we let the dogs out and they got into the spent grain that was supposed to go onto the patio and had a party. After speaking with our vet we learned how good the grains are for them. Poof – Brewscuits is born!
Did you need a lot of capital to start your business? How did you finance your business in the beginning?
Petrina DiOrio: We have financed everything. We started out in our house, moved to our garage and now we have our store in Telford.
Was this an area for which you had passion before you started the business, or did you see a need and move to serve it?
Petrina DiOrio: We have always had dogs and we’re always looking for healthy food and treats. We foster and rescue so making our own treats felt like a way that we could give them healthy treats and keep an eye on the bottom line.
How did you grow?
Petrina DiOrio: We started out with one flavor, then two, and now close to 12 flavors. We also have our own store where we showcase local products and all USA made items.
How did you grow? Tell us about a moment, or moments, in the early days that were “big moments” for the business. What moved the needle substantially?
Petrina DiOrio: Sometimes it felt like big moments were all around you and sometimes I think you get so immersed that you miss big moments. We started out with biscuit cutters that you get in this little tin. They were so flimsy, so when we got these nice cookie cutters you can’t believe how much better the biscuits look. Then you are amazed that people bought the old ones. The store has been our biggest move. Not only do we have a professional space to bake but the store has opened up a lot more opportunities for us.
Every successful small business owner has to navigate the world of expansion. And choosing how to expand is just as important as choosing how NOT to expand. Tell us about forks in the road on your journey.
Petrina DiOrio: The store was a big leap. The store was making gains every week. COVID 19 has been more than a struggle for us. It is a very difficult time.
As you’ve grown, you’ve undoubtedly had to delegate. How did you tackle that challenge?
Petrina DiOrio: We have been working with professionals in large companies for years so management was not an issue. We are also very lucky to have surrounded ourselves with wonderful people.
You know the axiom – no risk, no reward. Tell us about a time you took a big risk. Did it pay off? Did it fail? Or you had a completely different outcome than expected?
Petrina DiOrio: The store was our biggest risk and the first year was incredible. Now we fight the current circumstances daily. We don’t give up. We will keep our heads up and keep looking for an opportunity.
Do you/did you have a co-founder or did you go at it alone? Tell us about that decision, and how that affected you as a leader.
Petrina DiOrio: Yes, I do. We went into this thing together. Just the 2 of us.
Have you ever considered taking on additional partners, venture funding, or bank money to grow the company, or have you always bootstrapped?
Petrina DiOrio: We applied to Shark Tank in the past. It was a great experience but did not make it onto the show. We have kept it within ourselves. We have decided to keep our circle small.
Tell us about some of your sacrifices along your small business journey.
Petrina DiOrio: Time is our biggest sacrifice. People think when you own your own company that you make your own hours but the bottom line is that you never clock out. There is always something to do.
What is the most gratifying thing about what you do?
Petrina DiOrio: The dogs! and cats now too with the store. Meeting pets and their people and seeing how much they love your products and learning how it has helped them. There is no greater feeling.
What is a secret weapon that you have that would surprise people?
Petrina DiOrio: I multi-task very well.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Petrina DiOrio: I see myself running a successful business and Brewscuits in stores across the country.
Finish this sentence: “I would not be standing here today if not for ____”*
Petrina DiOrio: If not for Tiki who had stolen our grain that day.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give your 18-year-old self?
Petrina DiOrio: Don’t give up on yourself and don’t overthink things.