Former Gillespie Winner Makes ‘Barkery’ A Success

When Janet McCarty enrolled at The University of Mississippi she set out to pursue her marketing degree, not become an entrepreneur.
She would quickly learn that her path would change after she participated in the Gillespie Business Plan Competition.
“For a while I had been making dog biscuits at home,” explained McCarty. “I knew they were a good product because people had been buying them here and there, but I wasn’t sure if it could become anything.”

She got her answer after she progressed to the second round of the Gillespie’s and people loved her “farm to bowl” idea for dog treats. McCarty purchased and sourced all of her ingredients from local farmers and farmer’s markets- a decision that would set her apart from competitors.

“Once I had a plan it helped me see where to go,” said McCarty. “Once I knew where to go, I was intent on winning the competition.”

McCarty did win the Gillespie’s, and the $10,000 in funding and services to grow her new  “barkery”. Cotton’s Café is now sold in approximately 80 stores, including Whole Foods and Hollywood Feed, and began wholesale distribution in 2015. The dog biscuits can also be purchased online at

Since growing her business, McCarty has worked closely with the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship by implementing the Student Business Consulting program and offering her services as a mentor to other aspiring student entrepreneurs.

“The staff at the CIE was super helpful when I first began determining my valuation and working on my trademarks,” said McCarty.

McCarty encourages other entrepreneurs to take the challenge in starting their own businesses, “If you can really celebrate with the little things, it’s totally worth it.”

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