How My Daughter With Down Syndrome Became a Successful Entrepreneur

My daughter’s birthday is March 21. That’s World Down Syndrome Day. Grace has Down syndrome and as the world marks the day with thousands of people pledging to “Spread the word to end the word,” the only R-word she knows is “retail.” Gracie is one of the youngest business owners in Wisconsin. Her all-natural pet treat company, Gracie’s Doggie Delights, was formed a year ago and has since blossomed into a successful family business. With thousands of online customers and two dozen retail locations, Gracie is succeeding in her goal — to make dogs happy.

Her success and her enthusiasm for this company has been been amazing for her mom and me to watch. Gracie decided at 19 that she was finished with high school. We had difficulty finding her a job in the community. There were some opportunities, but we knew they weren’t anything she would be thrilled about doing. We wanted to focus on something she was passionate about. The answer was right in front of us, barking for attention.

Gracie loves our three rescue schnauzers. She loves making them happy and giving them treats (who doesn’t?) The initial plan was to have Gracie work at our local butcher, who makes his own freeze-dried treats that our dogs love. But after talking with him, we decided to shoot for something bigger. Gracie could be her own boss, work at her own pace and work her own hours. The butcher agreed to set Gracie up with a good price on the treats, containers and a scale. The business was launched.

In the day-to-day running of the business, she is in charge of weighing, packaging and labeling the products and assembling the orders. She works hard, makes personal home deliveries and delivers to several of the stores that carry her treats. Her confidence has grown by leaps and bounds.

What drives this young entrepreneur? Seeing the dogs she makes happy. Thousands of customers have posted photos of Gracie’s “G-Dogs,” as she calls them, on her Facebook page. She looks at the dogs nightly.

Our dream would be for this company to grow enough where Gracie could hire some people with disabilities, but for now, we are able to keep up. We are thrilled at her success and seeing her grow more and more into the role of business person every day. In addition, we  get the pleasure of hearing from other parents of children with Down syndrome whom she is inspiring.

We couldn’t have imagined this for Grace when she was born 20 years ago. We can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Buy some treats for your pup at Gracie’s Doggie Delights.

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