Each month the NW Innovation Resource Center writes about a Whatcom County resident who has invented products that solve everyday problems.
Names: Kellie and Katya Szirom.
Product: Two Terriers artisan dog products.
How to buy: Bellingham Whole Foods Market, Hohl Feed & Seed, Whatcom Farmers Co-Op, their website.
Contact information: twoterriersinc.com.
Two Terriers is a local, family-run business that provides artisan dog products using minimal, natural ingredients that are locally sourced in sustainable packaging. We use all human-grade ingredients and do not add any dyes, artificial flavors or preservatives. Our line of products includes 100 percent pure beef (heart, liver or kidney) supplements for dog and organic Castile soap shampoos.
What was the problem you were trying to solve and how did you come up with the solution?
We have dogs and were very disturbed to find there are so many recalls on dog food products.
Our dogs are considered our family members, and we wanted to create a truly safe, nutritious supplement that sourced from within Washington state. We wanted to create a pure beef protein base that individual dog owners could use to personalize and customize their own pets’ best diet.
What made you decide you wanted to take this idea to market?
When we started experimenting and giving samples to friends, we received positive feedback. The dogs loved our product and their owners loved that they loved it.
We spent a lot of time doing market research and reading lists of ingredients. We hoped that our single ingredient with a single source was something that people would want if given a choice.
What has it taken in terms of time, effort or expense to get the product on the shelf?
We first had the idea for Two Terriers in June of 2014. Since then, it has been a slow process of researching and getting all the certifications and paperwork in order. Right now we are focused on working with local business to sell our products, which can be a slow process.
While many of the buyers we have talked to like the product, by the time you work through all the administrative stuff, it takes a while to show up on the store shelf.
We are also spending time doing local events to help get our product out there and meeting folks who can help us spread the word.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in the process?
Since we were starting a business for the first time, we had to do a lot of research. We spent a lot of time looking up what licenses we needed and how to register our business. We also spent a lot of time researching dog nutrition to educate ourselves and others about natural dog foods.
It also has been a challenge to get our name out there. As a small family-run business, we are self-funding our business and do not have the budget to do a lot of advertising. We are finding out how challenging it is to get your name out there. That is why we encourage our customers to share our products with their friends and spread the word about our products.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you have something you are passionate about and want to share it with others, find out what it takes to make it happen and make it happen. The best thing is to try it out first and get feedback from people you trust.
Ultimately, if you believe in your product, do not let anyone else deter you from making it happen. A lot of it is simply getting out there and doing something each day to work toward your goal.
It is a lengthy and sometimes stressful process to get everything prepared for starting a business, but once you see your products on shelves, it makes it worth the hard work.
Lara Merriam-Smith is the program manager for NW Innovation Resource Center, a Bellingham-based non-profit that helps inventors and entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. For more information call 360-255-7870 or go online to nwirc.com.
Michael Schacht of Schacht Law Office will speak about property rights and the legal side of licensing your ideas at the Inventor Insights event from noon to 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 2211 Rimland Drive, Room 106. The event is free, but register in advance at nwirc.com/events, or call 360-255-7870.