With her all-woman workforce and biscuits that look good enough for humans to eat, Emma Gibbons is breaking into a multi-billion-dollar global market of animal lovers splurging on spoiling their pets.
- Emma Gibbons was named Queensland’s Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award winner
- She is now in the running for the national award
- Her all woman-workforce makes sustainable animal treats
The concept of Huds and Toke came to life around a kitchen table in 2012, named after the two imaginary dragons dreamed up by Emma and Russell Gibbons’ sons.
Now, the family’s sustainable pet treats, baked in a purpose-built factory in an industrial park on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, are shipped around Australia and worldwide.
“They’re brought out at birthday parties for dogs and coffee dates with dogs, so we sell to a lot of cafes,” Ms Gibbons said.
“It’s just bringing a little bit of joy into people’s lives by sharing a happy moment with their dogs.”
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts annually commissions the company to make Doggie Doughnuts to sell in the USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand for International Dog Day on August 26.
Ms Gibbons said Australia’s pet food market was worth over $4.3 billion annually, with the pet treats component valued at more than $302.9 million.
“And then the US market is just greatly magnified. We’re looking at more than $US50 billion ($78 billion) for pet food alone, so we only need a little bit of that to keep us going.”
Ms Gibbons has been named the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Queensland winner.
She is a national finalist in the awards that celebrate the inclusive and courageous leadership of women involved in Australia’s rural and emerging industries, businesses and communities.
“I hope I can inspire lots more women to be entrepreneurial in the agricultural landscape and take those little risks here and there and go with their crazy ideas,” Ms Gibbons said.
The treat line has been expanded to horses and rabbits, and the ingredients adapted to include Australian-farmed insect protein and surplus vegetables, including pumpkins, carrots and beetroot.
The protein meal is made from soldier fly larvae, which are used to recycle food and livestock waste.
“Traditional meat sources are getting harder to get and more expensive,” Ms Gibbons said.
“The insects were a really viable alternative, mostly because of their sustainability.
“They’re a really high protein source and dogs absolutely love them, so we’ve really enjoyed incorporating that into our products and creating planet-friendly pet products.”
Aside from Mr Gibbons, all the company’s workers are women.
“We’re a great crew here, of varying backgrounds and diverse age groups. We all get on really well and put in a massive effort to help each other,” Ms Gibbons said.
“Obviously, it’s a factory environment, and there’s heavy lifting, so it’s always a group effort, and I think that’s really bonded us all as a fun, outgoing team.”
Carol Runciman began working for the business nine months ago.
“Everybody’s helpful, it’s just all about teamwork, we love it,” she said.
Ms Gibbons said that being part of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award had been an incredible experience.
“It’s meant so much, I’m a country girl, I was born and bred in country Queensland, and I feel I can showcase what good old hard country work can do to create a successful international business,” she said.
“I’m just thrilled to be part of it, and I feel like a winner just as a state representative because of all the other amazing finalists that I’m standing beside.
“We’ve become an amazing sisterhood, which is really unique as well.”