Laura Bugajski had spent a decade climbing the corporate ladder, traveling the world and overseeing hundreds of workers.
Then, at age 33, she had a heart attack.
The health scare made Bugajski re-evaluate her career.
A lifelong dog lover who enjoys baking, Bugajski—a mechanical engineer by trade—switched gears.
She started Delightfully Delicious around two years ago after buying an all-natural dog biscuit business near Ithaca.
“I’ve always been passionate about dogs,” says Bugajski, 35.
She and her husband have two dogs: beagle mixes named Jack and Leo. In addition, Bugajski provides foster homes for dogs and is involved with dog training.
Further driving her desire to run the dog biscuit business was her disenchantment with what was available in the marketplace. It was a time when a number of dog food items were being recalled for health and safety issues.
“I wanted to offer a safe alternative,” she says.
Bugajski took the recipes she had purchased from the business and improved upon them. She uses human grade ingredients with no byproducts, artificial preservatives or artificial flavors.
The Chili resident bakes the treats in a commercial kitchen where she and two part-time employees mix, bake, inspect, package and ship the products. The treats are sold online and in stores, including Hart’s Local Grocers, Lori’s Natural Foods and the Garden Factory.
The biscuits come in three flavors: peanut butter, sweet potato and pumpkin. A 7-ounce bag sells for $5.99. Other items include a box of five frosted treats for $5. The frosting, like the biscuits, is also all natural. To get the yellow frosting, for example, Bugajski uses turmeric; for red, she uses beet powder and for green, parsley. She makes sprinkles using shredded coconut.
She also sells dog-themed coasters and wine glasses, along with a selection of mugs. They are available on the website, as well as at a number of craft fairs where Bugajski participates. In addition, Bugajski offers private label services. She has customers such as pet stores, veterinarians and groomers around the country who purchase her biscuits and put their own labels on them.
She recently began working with Zweigles Inc., providing private label services to the local firm for their baked dog treats.
Bugajski would eventually like to expand the number of retail outlets where the biscuits are sold. She is working with a salesperson to help get the products in smaller chains. She would also like to have a larger commercial kitchen to allow for more of the treats to be made. She currently works with a large commercial kitchen in Chicago that has the same equipment as Bugajski, only more of it.
“I’d love to have something like that in Rochester,” she says.
Originally published in the Rochester Business Journal on February 12, 2016.