Mendocino Country Blessings began as a simple act of love. Having bred and shown dogs for over twenty years, Nancy Hendricks cooked for each and every one of her charges, with their best health in mind. The food she prepared was free of preservatives as she noticed that the moment she removed preservatives from her dog’s diets, their incidence of cancer greatly decreased.

She had never even considered making food for dogs commercially, but after a few months of her husband convincing her she could be an entrepreneur she consulted with West Business Development Center to see what it would take.

Meeting with Steve Lamb in Ukiah, Hendricks expressed her worst fears – she didn’t know anything about business, she didn’t want to mortgage her house or take on debt.

Steve assured her that she could start her business without having to do either of those things, and that West would be there for her every step of the way.

Hendricks notes, that’s when the conversation changed from “You’re crazy!” to “Why not?” Her excitement was palpable, but she still didn’t know how exactly or where to start. “West helped me make a check list, and put me on a path to achieve my goals.”

Hendricks created a name for her business and opened a bank account. She made arrangements to rent a commercial space, acquired kitchen permits and applied for licensing. 

Now thanks to West, Hendricks has connected with a web designer, marketing advisor and a graphic artist. She decided to start as an online business and Mendocino Country Blessings is selling their goods on Etsy, with a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. “That’s marketing for you! I never would’ve had a clue how to market, other than to say, ‘Here you go! Here it is!’”

Hendricks is learning as she goes and stays focused on the heart of her business, which is her dog treat recipes. Although she is competing in a booming industry, she feels confident the lack of preservatives make both her products highly desirable. Right now her biggest challenge is getting her shelf life where she wants it and she’s doing testing and research to refine this process.

Hendricks enjoys the freedom of working for herself and says “every day is different” as she’s getting all the pieces in place. As Hendricks looks to the future she dreams of expansion and an in-house operation, where cooking, packaging, storage and shipping all happen in one place. To achieve this, she will take out a loan eventually and jokes, “I don’t think I’ll ever be done with West Company!”

Hendricks notes that to leave a legacy for her children would be her idea of true success, whether they want to continue with the business, or simply receive some income from it. A dreamer and a doer, she credits West with keeping her focused on her path. “I had a dream. West steered me in the right direction to make those dreams real.”

Visit Mendocino Country Blessings here: