Business management

A day in the life of Queens of the Bone Age founders Nicky Swire and Becca Gallagher

Back in April, we launched the Go Beyond competition for female entrepreneurs, in partnership with Meta. Sisters Nicky Swire and Becca Gallagher, founders of Queens of the Bone Age, were among the winners. Here, they talk about what it’s like to run their fast-growing plant-based dog treats business from a home kitchen.

Describe your business in 100 words or less

Nicky: “We’re a plant-based dog treat bakery, or ‘barkery’, specialising in personalised, handmade treats for dogs. We make doggie birthday doughnuts, personalised bone biscuits, seasonal treats and more. All our products are made in small batches, using natural ingredients.”

Why did you decide to do this?

Nicky: “I’ve always been interested in the idea of starting my own business and the opportunity to work with my sister, Becca, was too good to pass up. We started last year, and it’s gone from strength to strength. We’re both really enjoying it.”

Becca: “When Nicky asked me to join, I wanted a fresh challenge and the buzz of creating a new business, but since I have two children, I was also looking for something that was flexible and would work around my family life.”

What’s the first thing you do on a working day?

Becca: “I’ll check my email and all of our sales platforms for any new orders that might have come in since the previous day. Once I’ve got all the orders in front of me, I’ll start baking and packaging orders for postage. Once all the orders are fulfilled, I’ll start on the cash books, as I deal with the financial side of the business. Finally, I’ll check out Instagram to see if we have any new followers.”

What does a typical day look like?

Becca: “Being such a new business, there is no such thing as a typical day for us. Obviously, while baking is at the core of what we do, the day could include anything from designing new products and marketing to any kind of admin, like making changes to our website or sorting out finances and compliance. It definitely keeps things interesting.”

What’s your Monday motivation?

Nicky: “I get up in the morning and just seize the day. I go to a 6am gym class on a Monday, which really gives me motivation to crack on with the week. And because we’re a new business, we’re still motivated by being our own bosses – that autonomy of time and having space to try new things out.”

Becca: “My Monday motivation is getting to work. I love stepping into a sparkling, clean kitchen, ready to start baking. We bake everything at home, so I stick on my favourite music and get on with making the orders.”

We’ve had so much encouragement, and that’s been helpful when imposter syndrome starts to creep in and you begin to question what you’re doing. Having supportive people around to give you a boost is amazing

Nicky Swire
Co-founder, Queens of the Bone Age

Who is your all-time hero?

Becca: “I don’t have one specific person as my all-time hero but I’m really lucky to be surrounded by some amazing, go-getting women amongst my family and friends, who are really inspiring and supportive. I would say they’re all my heroes.”

Nicky: “We’ve had so much encouragement, and that’s been helpful when imposter syndrome starts to creep in and you begin to question what you’re doing. Having supportive people around to give you a boost is amazing.”

Tell us about your Go Beyond competition experience

You were one of the winners of our Go Beyond competition partnership with Meta. Part of the prize included access to a Digital Boost Small Business Boot Camp. 

Nicky: “The mindset session taught me about having a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, and how essential that is for success. Things like embracing challenges, seeing effort as a positive thing, and welcoming and learning from criticism. All of the sessions have been really helpful, and I think they’ve laid the foundation for the next six months of our business.”

What’s your biggest lesson in business so far?

Becca: “It’s just how much we didn't know! We started with this kernel of an idea that we both loved, and we leapt straight in. Then, as the business has taken shape, we've had to cross a lot of hurdles we didn’t know existed. For example, a dog-biscuit business has to comply with EU animal feed rules, and the regulations and health and safety around that. It’s been challenging at times, but all very worthwhile.”

Looking to the future, what are you most excited about?

Nicky: “I see the past 12 months as ‘phase one’ of the business, and we’ve learned a lot of lessons. What I’m most excited about now is building on that in a more strategic way, which is where the support from Meta, NatWest, and Meta’s #SheMeansBusiness programme will be invaluable. It will really focus us and give us that confidence to be able to pursue the next stage. We’ve already gained so much from the programme – I’m just excited to see where it takes us next.”

For further information please visit the Queens of the Bone Age website.

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