THE FULSTORY BEHIND THE BRAND
Warts n All
When it began
There wasn’t a name, There wasn’t a plan…It was a dream
It was a dream of a young teenager who you know today as Crazy Auntie Lia. She wears that name like a badge of honour. We thought it was time to tell the full story of how it all came about. Not just the quick blab on a website about the company. But the real warts and all story.
Well Aunty Lia as a small child had many challenges growing up, yes, she had loving parents, a nice home in a great suburb, she was sent to the best schools of the time. Her parents wanted her to have every opportunity there was and she thrived for the most part, being a “wog”’ girl growing up in the 60’s was hard, her dad was a tradie and all the other kids at school dads where Drs, Lawyers, Dentists’ Accountants etc so she was ridiculed and teased. Her parents ran a strict European house, and she wasn’t allowed to go out much and spent a lot of time alone. BUT there was also something her family didn’t know, one that they would never even have imagined. She was being abused. One of the worst crimes imaginable to a child. (We won’t dwell on this point), But she turned to animals through her childhood,in particular Dogs n Cats, they were her friends, the were her confidants her allies and they would never tell her secrets. She could open up to them. So, she became a rescuer (even before there was a name for them except for the RSPCA). Any stray came home with her, the sick ones too, she nursed them back to health getting up early wiping eyes with salty water before school, she only had a small allowance, but she made do and spent it all on the animals. Spending time at the local vets to gain knowledge and working for free so she could. She would find them all loving homes. At one point there were 27 cats. Everyone thought she was nuts. Particularly her immediate family. But they tolerated it, well most of the time. Her loneliness grew through her teenage years as did her friendships with animals. She married young had 3 beautiful daughters who were surrounded always by animals, there wasn’t a time when there wasn’t a myriad of them living at the home. Her daughters grew up hearing about this fantasy Puppicino and dog café’s which back in the 80’s to early 2000 wasn’t even thought of and yet. Again, everyone thought she was mad. She went to uni and tafe got her degree, but there was a burning passion in her for the animals. She was married to an abusive husband and finally left him after her father tragically died after an accident. She stopped and said I’m going to follow my passion. Its all about the animals they made her happy. I’m going to that happy place. She opened a grooming salon/retail pet store (she learnt these skills at the vets) and with her eldest daughter opened their first store. The business thrived they went from 1 tiny store to 2 stores in Sydney. She looked for unusual products shipping them in from all over the world, the whole family was involved now. This then led to a thriving wholesale business importing accessories. But tragically Lia had always been plagued with different illnesses. When she had an operation go wrong and became an amputee and paraplegic for 18months, leaving her to learn to walk again. Her wholesale business closed down as Lia needed 24-hour care. But she still had her dogs n cats. Lia again was faced again with a lot of loneliness and depression. Then just as she was starting to walk again, she had a mini breakdown and wanted to know what her life would be. Got in her car and started driving not knowing where she would go. Then a friend called she burst into tears, and he said come to me. Nambucca with a gin waiting for her greeting her with a smile and she stayed a few days then kept driving North and ended up in Brisbane. Again, what was to become of her. A friend held out her hand and said go back to what you love, the animals they make you smile. She did and again started grooming, but that pesky Puppicino was burning inside her, so she did it she had tried many times to get it right but being the perfectionist, she hadn’t. So, a lot more trials and error which the younger ones call R n D and Puppicino was born. At first, she made for friends and her dog Ruby only, but her friends, friends wanted it to. Then she started selling it to the amazing people who let her groom in their pet store. It grew more. But again, tragically she was hit health wise with stage 4 cancer, a rare cancer (she had already battled the demon before, but this was much worse) she was given 12 months to live. It was inoperable the only treatment was radiation and chemo. Massive does of both. It was the toughest battle of her life. But she did it with the help, yep you guessed it of her beloved Ruby a British bulldog and her best human friend Annie. She then in a twist of fate lost Ruby to the same cancer she was fighting (as Lia puts it her crazy dog lady story, Ruby took the bullet for her) but not before they raised 20k for PA cancer research with Bark Off Cancer. The furbabies helped her raise those funds. Then a year later Lia’s middle daughter moved to Brisbane and said mum this is great we, you, need to do this and L’Barkery was born. Only with 1 flavour, then treats were added but only 3. They launched officially Ekka 2015. Meeting some amazing young ladies who were also starting their own brand and wanting to buy Puppicino to sell and promote their own brand. Another amazing lady (not in the pet industry) also started her own online business selling only L’Barkery Products. Lia and her daughter went to every market, every event they could to build the Brand and the products. People laughed at the thought a dog cappuccino?? But that was cool with them. Once they explained the concept, the following grew and grew. They even travelled interstate and still to this day those loyal pet parents who believed in her still do. And she is so thankful for their love and support. BUT the passion throughout this journey to pay it forward never stopped. Puppicino today has grown into an icon with many trying to copy it. Lia is very protective of Puppicino and doesn’t hide the fact she will protect it with everything she has. Puppicino has led L’Barkery into many first of items, beers Paw Blonde Pawroni , Barkeraide, Gelato, Jellies, Smoothies and more. Using flavours no one did before, but now do. She brought her fun sundaes to the industry. Fun being the optimum word. L’Barkery won best new product in 2019, the first PIAA (Pet Industry Association) event they had attended in a decade. But funnily enough she had won best new product in 2009 a decade prior in Brisbane as well with her prior pet business. But what many don’t realise is L'Barkery's burning passion besides the furbabies health is paying it forward. Helping those who cannot help themselves. Helping the furbabies that have saved her and over, never making judgements, not caring what you look like, but just loving you. Putting smiles on faces. So, the majority of L’Barkery profits go to charities and rescues. They and she can’t bear any person or animal being alone scared hurt etc. It is mainly pet related charities but L’Barkery does pay forward to human causes to as well. So, for those who might try to come and attempt to copy or harm L’Barkery, its reputation, they are not just affecting L’Barkery but those causes and rescues they help. It is not that these others attempt to copy that bothers as much, as the attitude and intent behind the copies. The importance these people place on Money, Social Media Numbers etc. that is troubling. L’Barkery has now grown with many more products and still many more to come. L’Barkery will continue despite some, it will always pay it forward to those in need and charitable events. If anything, they are inspired by those who attempt to derail them and bring out even more products. L’Barkery where healthy doesn’t need to be boring and the imagination can run wild….
Original Puppicino and Kitticino that still sit over crazy Auntie Lia’s Desk.