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Hidden Gems: Meet Elissa Farris of Bella’s Bark Boutique

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elissa Farris.

Hi Elissa, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Our story starts with Bella a beautiful German Shepherd, I got for my daughter and I in 2011. Sadly, Bella passed away in 2020 from Hemangiosarcoma, cancer of the spleen. I remember researching Google, the average cost of owning a dog before making the decision to add a family member.

Unfortunately, our sweet Bella needed a double hip surgery at nine months of age. That was just the beginning of multiple vet visits with Bella.

She struggled with food allergies. I had to be very meticulous about the ingredients contained in her food that would make her break out. That was a hard battle to figure out Bella’s food allergies. When shopping for dog treats, I could not even pronounce half the ingredients on the back of the bag. I began making Bella homemade dog treats. They were healthy with no preservatives and few ingredients. Over the years of working with Bella’s skin issues, I began to see the patterns of what worked and what did not.  I decided to create Bella’s Bark Boutique in her memory.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There was no easy smooth road through this process. I had to constantly retreat after hitting hurdles, especially with each state having different departments of agriculture, meaning each state had different feed licensing requirements and fees. One day, a good friend told me “It’s ok! Just start in TN and work your way to each state as you grow.”

More of the back story on the struggles, I was dealing with behind the scenes. This was one of the hardest times in my life. I had recently gotten married, only to learn that I married a serial cheater. Then things got worse, I lost my career, in the dental field. Due to chronic pain, from endometriosis. I needed major surgery in Atlanta. Unfortunately, after this surgery, I never got my pain-free body back or my old life back as planned. After hitting depression, all I could focus on shame and loss. The death of my dear friend, the miscarriages, loss of the “perfect marriage” I was supposed to have, loss of my career, loss of my pain-free body, loss of Bella.

That soon changed, I came across the cutest sable German Shepherd on Facebook for sale. When messaging the breeder about her. I learned she had a heart murmur and a hernia. She needed extra love, just like Bella did. Of course, I wanted her after learning about her medical issues. In my mind, this sweet puppy was broken just like me.

After arriving home and life settling in, we find out that she was completely healthy. I named her “Karma”. She was my good Karma.  She showed me unconditional love, which I had forgotten to show myself! I started focusing more on Bella’s Bark Boutique. I believed turning it into something meaningful could make her memory live on and help other dogs in need! Then I came home one day and found my older fur baby “Taya” so sick. We had rescued Taya shortly after getting Bella. Unfortunately, she stopped eating one day and the only thing I could get that sweet 10-year-old girl to eat for a week was my homemade dog treats. I took that as a sign and told myself, “You are doing the right thing, do not give up.” I came to realize that it is ok to challenge myself, learn new things and fail instead of living my life behind the door of fears. When I fail, I will learn and adjust my path, then try again.

Who knows whether a dog that I help today will rescue another human later as Karma did for me or bring joy to others lives like Bella. The big plan is to give a percentage of sales to local rescues, enjoy what I am doing for a living while nourishing my soul at the same time, being able to give back.

We’ve been impressed with Bella’s Bark Boutique, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Bella’s Bark Boutique is a small, home-based, female-owned business located in middle Tennessee. A dog boutique formed with a simple yet ambitious vision in mind. We provide custom gifts for everyone and their furry companions, including our exclusive ‘Bark Off’ apparel.

My first release of the ‘Bark Off-Line” was a solar apparel clothing line with UPF50 Protection that earns The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation. In honor of my friend Sharon, who sadly passed away from melanoma.

As well as all-natural, no preservative homemade dog treats and problem-solving dog toys to reduce anxiety and boredom. Inspiring you to live your best life with impactful products for hoomans and their furry friends.

Our training dog treats are one of my favorites. The convenience of being able to grab a bag of dog treats, ready to clip on you, freeing your hands during training exercises.

I am most proud of brand-wise: The BARK OFF line. My hope is that the Bark Off line can inspire others too! BARK OFF to anything negative in your life that is holding you back from embracing yourself and do something truly amazing!

Are there any books, apps, podcasts or blogs that help you do your best?
Gala Darling has a great podcast; I love her energy!

Mel Robbins has an inspiring book called “The High 5 Habit”.

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