By Noma Faingold
Do you remember what you were doing when you were 10 years old? Probably not what Noa Schachter, now 12, was doing.
It was the summer of 2020, at the height of the pandemic, and Noa was spending way more time at home, located near University of San Francisco.
“I watched a lot of ‘Shark Tank,’” said Noa of the reality TV show that motivated her to start a business. Her father, Bart, who owns his own investor/advisor company, mostly in the tech world, bought her a few entrepreneurial books including, “Kid Start-Up: How YOU Can Become an Entrepreneur,” co-authored by billionaire and “Shark Tank” on-air investor Mark Cuban.
Noa vigorously pored over the books and came up with two ideas. She quickly dismissed her handmade soap concept, as such target markets as Etsy are already flooded with organic/environmentally responsible/artisanal products. Instead, for inspiration, she looked no further than the beloved family dog, a sleek and sporty Vizsla named Paris.
“I realized how much I love my dog and baking, so I thought dog treats would be best,” Noa said.
And Love Paris Bakery was born.
“The name is cute,” Noa said. “It also gives the brand a face.”
Noa took the endeavor seriously from the beginning, consulting with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine about creating nutritionally appropriate recipes for dog treats, using only the healthiest organic ingredients and developing a product that had a lengthy shelf life.
Her research helped her determine that less is more. The treats are dairy, gluten, soy and preservative free.
“I’ve seen dog treats with cinnamon in them and that can be bad for dogs,” said Noa. “They also don’t need added sugar or salt.”
She wanted her products to appeal to humans by creating cookies in such shapes as hearts (for Valentine’s Day), pumpkins (for fall), turkeys (for Thanksgiving), a dog’s head, as well as bones in small and large sizes. Noa’s main goal, however, has been that dogs love them. Current flavors include pumpkin/banana, peanut butter/banana and peanut butter/pumpkin. A six-ounce bag is priced at $9.
Of course, Paris tested the biscuits during the development stage.
“She’s the CTO, chief tasting officer,” Noa said.
The seventh grader at Brandeis School of San Francisco, Noa – who also plays competitive tennis and runs on the track and cross-country teams – still devotes significant time to Love Paris Bakery, not just in the kitchen, but on the business side. She knows her way around spread sheets and researched the best e-commerce platform to use for selling online. After her parents, Bart and Charlene, provided a modest amount of seed money at the beginning, they turned most of the management over to Noa. She has a bank account for the business and keeps track of all sales and expenses.
“We’ve made a profit since the first day,” Noa said. “Well, it might have taken a few days. I’m a little surprised that it has worked this well. On the other hand, people love their dogs so much that they will spend money on them.”
Noa got some tech support from her parents. Her sister, Simone, 15, designed the LPB website (loveparisbakery.com) and created/maintains the company’s Instagram account. As chief marketing officer, Simone also takes photos of the products and related images for the site and social media.
Her mom accompanied Noa when they were first introducing the treats to customers at dog parks, giving away samples. Quickly dog owners wanted to purchase the product. Word of mouth has been a successful marketing tool. Currently, they are getting online traffic from both repeat and new consumers. Online shoppers still get personalized drop-off service from Noa and Charlene at a few designated locations.
To expand the business, Noa wants to get the treats into local independent pet boutiques. She is also developing some new flavors, including blueberry.
“It’s kind of a superfood for dogs, full of antioxidants,” she said.
Charlene, who still enjoys weekly baking sessions with Noa, tries to strike a balance between supporting her daughter’s enterprising nature and letting her be a kid.
“We try to expose our daughters to a lot of things and encourage what they are passionate about,” Charlene said.
Noa doesn’t know whether Love Paris Bakery can go from a small-batch business to something much bigger. Does she have the desire to go on “Shark Tank” and deliver a pitch?
“Maybe, if I needed an investor,” she said.
Categories: Small Businesses