LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Though it took Mark Pfeifer two years to perfect his dog treat recipe, when he started Wigglewow, he immediately knew the purpose behind the company.
Not only does Wigglewow provide all-natural, FDA-approved dog treats, it also focuses on providing career opportunities to people who are not often given the chance to work in the professional world.
Pfeifer hires "epic chefs," special needs employees who help create and package each dog treat. To provide for the epic chefs, Wigglewow then divides the first 25% of yearly profits and places it in the "Epic Chefs' Special Needs Trust" to provide long-term funds for its workers.
The business model is one close to Pfeifer's heart as he witnessed the day-to-day life of his nephew with severe autism.
"It really hits home," Pfeifer said. "I was pretty much clueless and then...my nephew has severe autism. [My brother] helped me understand the day in the life of a parent of a family member that has special needs...I had no idea."
Pfeifer said he noticed how many people with special needs can work, and want to work, but are not given the opportunity. Since starting Wigglewow, he said he has seen a clear desire for work.
Derek Beary, one Wigglewow epic chef, said he not only likes what he does but enjoyed the environment.
"[It's a] Christian friendly environment, a nice boss and work I like doing," Beary said.
Another epic chef, Carissa, said her job is to weigh and bag the cookies.
"I like to get paid," she said.
There are currently 14 employees, with 17 people on the waiting list to be hired. Pfeifer said he can't take anyone off that list until they have higher sales.
And Pfeifer stands by his product. He and all of the workers at Wigglewow swear by their treats, saying dogs love them. Pfeifer said he not only hopes to bring more all-natural treats to pups, but provide for his epic chefs.
"It’s funny how God has transformed me through this journey, because when I first started, I thought oh I’m going to be blessing so many people," Pfeifer said. "I get blessed every day."
Customers can make one-time or scheduled recurring purchases of treats on the Wigglewow website. People can also become a founding sponsor, donating to the company.
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