Krista Aversano is a dog lover who was looking for a healthier alternative for treats for her dogs. After a little experimenting, she turned the idea into the Taj Ma Hound, a bakery that specializes in canine treats.
Aversano started the business out of her apartment in 2004 and opened a storefront at 707-D East Lake Drive in Decatur in November of 2007.
“I came up with the idea when I found out what was in dog food and dog treats, not all of it but a lot of it,” Aversano said. “It’s nice to know what’s in it, and I figured if I made it myself I’d know it was healthy.”
The bakery features treats in all shapes and sizes, along with dog bone cakes and gift baskets. Each box of treats has its own theme and nothing is off limits. Themes include, prince and princess treats, wild west, skull and crossbones, an ocean theme and even “It’s a Puppy” treats (pink for females and blue for males).
Made from all-natural ingredients that are safe for humans, the treats are as healthy as they are creative. One of the most popular flavors of treats is “Pea-Mutt Butter, which is primarily peanut butter, honey and whole wheat flour. Aversano uses carob for chocolate icing and yogurt for colored icing.
The main ingredients in the cakes are peanut butter and shredded carrots, with cream cheese and honey icing.
“All the recipes were trial and error,” Aversano said. “We went through a lot of different types of yogurt until we found what we liked. Everything I make I try, so there’s nothing weird or gross.”
Inside the dog-friendly bakery, customers and their pets can take a look (and a sniff) at the Bark Bar, where cookie jars are lined up with everything from cheddar-bacon bones to Bark B Que bones.
Aversano tries to stay one step ahead of the struggling economy by expanding her business beyond the bakery. She also sells her dog treats to wholesalers, at area farmer’s markets, at regular gift shops and dog daycares. Aversano also has a Web site where customers can order online. Orders are shipped as far away as Michigan, she said.
“We make our own cookie cutters now and that has expanded the business,” Aversano said. “We’re going to do football-themed treats in the fall, for college teams. We do a lot of custom treats for events. We can do (treats in the shape of) logos and promotional pieces. We just did ballet slippers for an event for the Atlanta Ballet.”
No business is out of reach for Aversano. If it’s dog friendly, it’s a potential customer.
“We had interest from a tux store in the Highlands that is dog friendly,” Aversano said. “It’s weird, some of our customers are people you’d never think of.”
For more information on the treats and services available at Taj Ma Hound, visit the Web site at www.tajmahound.com or call Aversano at (404) 377-9220.