---- — It’s the spring of 2001 and Andover High School’s starting softball pitcher is at it again. Another strikeout, another win for the team and another photograph of Laura Stone makes her hometown newspaper’s sports pages.
“Yeah, I was in the Townsman like every week,” she said. “And, playing high school sports is so important. I learned so much about working on a team, being a good team player and learning about life.”
Now 29, Stone, a 2001 AHS graduate, is still receiving accolades for a job well done — in the business world.
Stone recently received the Rookie of the Year award from the Center for Entrepreneurship of York County, Maine. The award was presented to her for her two-year-old, all-natural dog-treat business, Brownie’s Barkery, based in Ogunquit, Maine.
Stone is a longtime dog lover, although her parents made her wait to get a dog until she could truly take care of one. Now, she has “Brownie,” a 3-year-old beagle/corgi mix, and a successful business inspired by her passion for dogs.
There’s no storefront for her business. Rather, all sales are done online (browniesbarkery.com) or purchases of the all-natural dog treats are made at one of the 38 retail stores carrying them. Andover Spa on Elm Street is one of those stores. The popular convenient store carries a limited supply.
A whoopie pie-ish type dog snack makes Stone’s list of bestsellers that are stocked on select shelves around Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.
But, tasty natural dog treats was not the only reason why Brownies Barkery was saluted. Stone believes she is building a reputation as a caring distributor.
“My customer service was noticed. I’m on the road a lot and I like to check in with those stores and make sure everything is OK,” she said.
Stone graduated from LaSalle College in 2005 with a marketing degree and went to work in corporate America, she said. She beefed up her marketing and customer-service skills in different jobs before going out on her own.
“I always knew I wanted to work for myself,” she said.
Her mom, Regina Stone, also helps with marketing ideas.
“You’ve got to be creative and you’ve got to care about customer service,” said the six-foot Stone.
That’s a business strategy that’s scoring for the former AHS softball pitcher.