How One Couple Built + Baked a Successful Treat Company from Scratch
November 4, 2013
Usually when a piece of food falls on the ground, it goes to the dogs. At the Max and Ruffy's bakery, whenever a treat falls on the ground the humans eat it.
You may recognize Max & Ruffy's treats from a BarkBox, but we know them to be one of the most caring + incredible treat companies around and their story needs to be told.
Beth and Kelly, the founders of Max & Ruffy's, bake organic, nutritious, human-grade, vegan treats for dogs.
It all started back in 2004 when Beth and Kelly started making food for their three rescue pups, Grover, Edith, and Jyoti.
You see, Beth and Kelly practice a vegan lifestyle and they had a hard time finding options in the dog market that were in line with their beliefs and values. So they started making treats.
This is when it was simple. Beth and Kelly made treats and food for their pups in their home kitchen. They shared with neighbors and friends and before long, people were coming to them asking them to make stuff for their dogs.
Organic blueberries and coconut oil on the house stove.
Beth and Kelly's good friend and vet, her husband, and their dogs were actually some of Max & Ruffy's first taste-testers and guidance-givers. They loved the tastiness and quality of the treats and encouraged them to start their own business.
The vet's pups, Pearl, Ally, and Jordi.
When Beth and Kelly first started baking the treats, they had a teeny-tiny two-tray oven in their family room. The oven was so tiny it looked like a microwave.
They also had this cookie-making machine called a "Kook-E-King." It would later become known as the "Krap-E-King" because it was so difficult to get all of the treats up to Beth and Kelly's high standards. : )
Here are Kelly and Tariq using the Cook E King in the beginning.
One day, Beth and Kelly decided to go to a dog event just to get feedback on their treats. At that event, Beth and Kelly were approached by a retail shop interested in carrying their treats.
Max & Ruffy's treats in the Bark! shop in Maryland.
After that, things got serious.
Beth and Kelly decided to ditch their teeny tiny oven and go for their dreams big-time by purchasing an enormous Vulcan 5-pan oven. At that time they were living in a small, 1940s Colonial home in Arlington, VA and to get the oven inside, they actually had to take the door off their house. (!!)
By this time, Beth and Kelly's house was completely taken over by treat-making machinery.
A bedroom became the dining room because the dining room became the baking room...
...The sitting room became the shipping room...
...And storage was everywhere.
The Max & Ruffy's business literally took over the whole house. And not only that-- Beth and Kelly started to realize that all of their stuff smelled like dog treats... Including themselves.
A friend once borrowed a piece of Beth and Kelly's luggage and called to ask them if they knew their suitcase smelled like Max & Ruffy's treats. Kelly remembers one time after taking a shower, he got out and his towel smelled like pizza treats.
Those days were interesting times. Every morning they woke up and immediately started working because their work was right there in their house. Saturday, Sunday, the day didn't matter-- there were treats to be baked and dogs to make happy.
Bedhead doesn't matter when you work from home.
Beth and Kelly decided it was time to move.
They moved the bakery up to Rockville, MD and took some leaps of faith to upgrade their treat-making equipment. They bought a rotary molder to make treats more efficiently...
...They upgraded their mixer...
...And things were going well!
One day their treats were even featured on The Price is Right!
And then... Erin from BarkBox called.
Erin does all of the buying for the treats, toys, and goodies that go in the BarkBoxes each month.
Erin LOVED Max & Ruffy's treats and she called to order 24,000 bags to put in the BarkBoxes. Beth and Kelly said, "YES! You got it!" And they got to work.
They gathered the vegan + organic ingredients...
...And started baking!
After a bit, BarkBox called again and asked for 36,000 bags. Beth and Kelly said, "Of course!" and they worked even harder.
BUT THEN-- BarkBox called again and said the number of bags needed was closer to 48,000. Beth and Kelly tightened their belts and dug in.
After that phone call, Beth and Kelly called in all the help they could get. Just like an old-fashioned barn-raising, family members, friends, parents-- all of Beth and Kelly's loved ones pitched in to help fulfill the BarkBox order.
And even the dogs lent a helping paw. ; )
With all the extra help, Beth and Kelly finished all of the Max & Ruffy's treats in time. And they bought their friends and family a bunch of vegan pizzas. ; )
Today, Max & Ruffy's treats are in over 600 stores across the US, Canada, China, Singapore, Japan and they've got no plans to slow down. They've gone from a two-tray oven to TWO 26-tray ovens. They are passionate about creating healthy, tasty, and unique treats that pups (and humans!) love.