By Kelly Youngblood
A Mahomet girl has used her extra time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to start a new bakery business — one that caters to four-legged customers.
Ayla Finfrock, 11, started Hoofs and Paws Snaks in early April, offering unique homemade baked treats for dogs and horses.
For Ayla, the experience has been a good way to pass the time while her normal routine has been put on hold.
An avid equestrian, Ayla usually spends several hours a week at the barn where her horse is kept — doing lessons, cleaning stalls and helping take care of the horses.
But the barn had to close due to Covid-19 non-essential business restrictions.
Nancy Finfrock, Ayla’s mother, says it’s been hard for Ayla to not see her friends or her horse, but the new business venture has been a nice distraction.
“I think this has totally helped her through this more time at home (period) and not seeing her friends,” Nancy said.
The new venture has also been a great way to earn money to help pay for the horse shows she attends each year.
“I do horse shows and they cost a lot of money to do them. I thought making money for them would be good,” Ayla said.
Since Hoofs and Paws Snaks first opened, Ayla estimates she’s earned nearly $300. Her treats cost between $5-$8. Most of her business comes from her Instagram page, but she recently started selling her gourmet pet desserts on Etsy too.
Ayla, who just finished fifth grade at Lincoln Trail Elementary in Mahomet, is no novice to baking for pets. She baked birthday cakes and treats for her horse Paris before she decided to turn her hobby into a business.
The treat designs vary, from cacti and clouds to fruit slices and ice cream cones. Ayla says her ideas just pop into her head. She only owns one cookie cutter — an ice cream cone shape. The rest of her designs come from cardboard stencils she cuts out herself.
Nancy is amazed by her daughter and said the experience has really helped Ayla’s artistic talents blossom and also taught her more about money management. “I am super proud of her. She just does all this on her own and I can’t believe her creativity. It’s pretty amazing.”