Amanda Loyola and the Eco-Dog Treats

Here’s a feature I wrote, originally published on (sigh) Perez Philton’s Money Bag.

Ask any high school junior what tops their college application resume and you’re likely to hear answers ranging from “community service” to “vice-president of the crocheting society.” Less common might be “CEO of an award-winning business startup.”

But Amanda Loyola, 16, of Manhattan’s Horace Mann School, is just that, a young entrepreneur whose company is producing vegetarian “Eco-Dog Treats”. After attending a business-oriented summer program and participating in contests sponsored by major companies like Goldman Sachs, she earned enough money to get her small business moving. 

“If you really believe in something, you should just do it,” said Loyola, who bakes the environmentally-friendly dog treats in her own kitchen with the help of her parents. After her dog Princess died of cancer two years ago, a condition that can be worsened by a diet too heavy on red meat, Loyola decided to invent a healthy alternative. 

The Eco-Dog Treats contain no preservatives and are made from a simple combination of vegetables and peanut butter. Though other vegetarian dog treats are on the market, Loyola notes that many contain “weird” flavors like garlic. “Mine won’t give your dog bad breath,” said Loyola. “There’s more of a homey feel to it.” 

Another plus: the treats are enjoyable for dog owners, as well. “My mom eats them all the time,” she said. “My dad had to hide them from her.”

Five percent of Loyola’s profits from the $6 treat baggies benefit Live Earth concerts. Loyola also notes that pet owners conscious of the green movement can use Eco-Dog Treats as a way of helping out without changing their own lifestyles. “If you can’t be a vegetarian but want to help the environment, you can make your dog a vegetarian,” said Loyola.

But even with the best of intentions, those looking to initiate a new business risk finding themselves left in the cold in today’s harsh economic climate. As Martha D. Soffer, a Business Development Specialist at the U.S. Small Business Administration, notes, “in this economy, there are very few loans being made to startups.” Even in the best of times, Soffer claims that within two years of opening, a third of all businesses fail. 

Still, Loyola is culling the necessary licenses to start selling Eco-Dog Treats online, and is hoping to have her limited liability corporation up and running by the summer. The move will be a big leap from her days of selling the homemade treats on her neighborhood street corner, but Soffer thinks she has a shot at success.

“She probably picked a good business to launch in this economy,” said Soffer. “People will still spend money on pets… she’s probably in a safe niche.” Soffer also notes that there is a trend for eco-friendly, green companies in today’s business world.

Despite the optimism, Soffer is quick to mention that independent business owners get tied down to their companies. “It matures you awfully fast,” said Soffer.

With a bevy of extracurricular activities beyond her business, though, including playing soccer on a traveling team, running track, and a burgeoning interest in guitar, Loyola seems to have even that concern covered. “There’s a lot of things I want to do,” said Loyola. With any luck, the Eco-Dog fad will catch on and Loyola will be able to move onto bigger and better.

(Yes, people can eat the dog treats. No, they don’t taste very good.)

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One Response to “Amanda Loyola and the Eco-Dog Treats”

  1. i just watched the documentary 10 9 8 shoot for the moon and everyone was amazingly excellent.. your idea Amanda Loyola was phenomanal. you said your business would go far and it has keep up the good work.:)

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