Alexandra Harte, Reporter
This fall, 23 students in New Canaan began Independent Study projects. Some chose to learn a new language while others wrote research papers, but among the many one study stood out. Junior George Dumbauld began his own dog treat company Blisskuits, named after his own dog Bliss.
It all began earlier this year. With football season coming to an end, George wanted to do something productive in his free time. “It just came to me,” he said, explaining that his dad’s business with hemp helped him launch his idea. With the help of teachers, friends and family, he was able to take his idea and put it to work.
Veronica Astacio, the head of the Independent Studies Program, recalls George’s enthusiasm when he approached her in the fall. “I can see the love and enthusiasm he had for it. He came to me and said he wanted to start a dog treat company,” Ms. Astacio said. “When you have that love and passion for a project, that’s what independent studies are all about.”
George’s father is COO at Curio Wellness and deals with hemp products daily. George was talking with his father about the benefits of hemp seed, which inspired him to do some research. George discovered that hemp is beneficial because of its richness in nutrients that help the dogs’ joints and liver. His father’s access to hemp allows George to have a supply for whenever he needs it. As for baking the treats, “it’s a really long process, there are multiple different baking processes. In all, it takes about 2 full hours. Afterwards, we add icing to them” he said.
As junior year progressed and school work began to tack onto George’s plate, he decided he needed to find a partner to lighten the load. Tommy Saitta, a junior and good friend of George, became an obvious choice as a partner for the business. “I do all the big-picture stuff, I made our whole website, and I see the overall goals that need to be accomplished” Tommy said. “I finish all the projects that he gives me, I get the packages and the permits, and I look at all the different qualities that need to get done”.
Rachel Martinich, business teacher, has also been a supporter in George’s endeavor. “When a kid is trying to do something big like that, start a business, why would you not want to support that?” she said. As the sponsor, she gives him suggestions for who to talk to about kitchen space to cook his treats and serves as a mentor.
Their next step is trying to find a large enough kitchen to begin mass producing their treats. Currently, they are looking into using Joe’s Pizzeria oven. For now, George is making his treats at home, while Tommy figures out the logistics for getting a permit to distribute them.
Blisskuits is also getting help from familiar faces around the high school. Luke Pelli, current senior, has been working on the graphics for the logo on the packaging. They met together with a few different markups, collaborated and chose the design they felt fit the company best. Timmy Hardy is also working for the company by taking high quality pictures of George’s dog Bliss to use for their website.
As for the future of George’s company, they plan to start a social media account to promote the name and brand, and develop packaging which gives them that, “‘homey, natural feel'” George says. He hopes to launch his treats in late March or early April.