In February 2012, after a particularly difficult meeting at the corporate job where she had hit rock bottom, Theresa Chu scribbled the name of her company and “September 2012 “on a post-it note. Then she went home and made a business proposal to her husband, Scott Beaudry. Beaudry was a home-brewer, and when the couple adopted their dog Barley in 2008, Beaudry began making dog treats for him out of the grain left over from the brewing process. He also gave the treats to four-legged friends of the family. Chu’s proposal was to start an all-natural beer grain dog treat company. The two worked hard over the next seven months and Barley Labs launched on September 25, 2012.
Six years after launching, Chu and Beaudry have expanded Barley Labs to include a dog-friendly taproom, along with a bottle and gift shop. They secured small business loans that helped them increase production and build out their retail location. They now sell their product at Harris Teeter, Lowes and Publix grocery stores and have hired three employees.
Chu and Beaudry worked with SCORE mentor Maxine Stern as they launched their business in 2012. “We didn’t want to jump into entrepreneurship blindly,” says Chu. Stern helped the couple build a strong foundation by guiding them through financial projections and writing a business plan. “Without these documents, I don’t think we would’ve gotten the loans,” says Chu.
Chu advises other small business owners to be discerning when taking advice: “The moment you put it out there that you want to start a business, you’ll start getting advice and suggestions from everyone, regardless of the experience (or lack thereof) they may have. Know who to ignore and try to surround yourself with people who actually can help.”