An interview with Colleen C. Berg, baker, decorator and co-owner of Sweaters-N-Sweets.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
Sweaters-N-SweetsOwners: Colleen C. Berg and Lyn E. Hallberg
Year business started: 2011
A: Sweaters-N-Sweets, www.sweatersnsweets.com, is a pet bakery offering a variety of treats for dogs, cats and horses. The treats are all vet approved. They are made fresh with no additives or preservatives to extend shelf life. Our treats are made of all real food including fresh organic fruits and vegetables from Ripe Organics (www.ripeorganics.com). For pets with allergies or sensitivities to foods, we custom-make specialty treats to include meat free, grain free, low calorie, sensitive stomachs, and skin allergies. Our line now includes a variety of treats for dogs and cats with cancer. They are specially designed with cancer fighting ingredients, special digestive enzymes, anti inflammatory foods and very low carbs. My mother and business partner, Lyn Hallberg, makes hand knit, machine washable sweaters for dogs and cats … from the tiny 3-pound tea cup up to the 100+ pound German Sheppard and Great Dane.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: My love of animals. As a pet owner, I always made treats for my dogs and thought it would be a fun business as an offshoot of our other online bakery, www.colleensweetreats.com, which is for people and which also addresses food and digestive allergies along with diabetes. I was selling cars for Rosen Mazda in Waukegan and I used to bring goodies in for the other salesmen. At one point a couple of them told me I was in the wrong business and should be opening a bakery. That is where it began.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: Advertising, getting our name out there, and funding. Starting a small business requires money and these days it is very hard to get bank loans for start up businesses.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Community. I love being part of some of the wonderful things our community does. Partners for Progress uses horses to help mentally challenged kids and adults. Making a horse treat for them to give the horse they are bonding with and caring for and watching that smile is a gift. Watching the animals that are being rescued settle into our arms knowing they are now safe is life changing. I met the store owner of The Long Grove Popcorn Shoppe who will be carrying a small variety of our dog, cat and horse treats.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Being only 43, I can honestly say I have not grown up yet. I don't know that I ever saw myself as "being" something specific when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be a mom and I knew I wanted five kids. I am a mom, a single mom of five of the most amazing, tolerant, trusting kids.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: I am usually pretty worn out from the day for anything to really keep me up at night, other than perhaps my son's algebra grades. If anything, it would be finances that worry me, but I have faith it will all work out.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Being a rookie myself all I can say is plan, save money and push. If you're thinking of starting a business I strongly suggest seeking the help and advice of the Small Business and Development Center at CLC. Jan Bauer and her team have been incredibly helpful and informative.
• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Email Kim Mikus at firstname.lastname@example.org.