It started as a lemonade stand idea, but nine-year-old Aliyah Brito didn’t want to sell just sell lemonade. She wanted something to offer customers of the four-legged variety.
“The end goal was Aliyah wanted to get to dogs, or get dogs to her, “Aliyah’s mom Sandra Brito told CTV News Toronto.
From there, the idea of making and selling canine treats came to be. With a little help from social media in getting the word out, “Aliyah’s Pet Bites” was born in summer 2019.
Over the last six months, the young girl from Milton, Ont. has sold hundreds of bags of treats.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Sandra said with a laugh. “Dogs love it, we’ve met a lot of great people, and the community is very supportive.”
When asked how her business makes her feel, Aliyah excitedly exclaimed she was “happy.”
“Because I love dogs a lot,” she told CTV News Toronto.
It’s a big accomplishment for the young girl, who lives with intellectual and physical differences. She didn’t walk until she was almost three years old, and has had difficulty speaking throughout her life.
Sandra said she wanted “Aliyah’s Pet Bites” to be a learning experience for her daughter.
“Aliyah struggles and this was an opportunity to make things visual for her,” the mother said.
“She has learned to count money. She’s opened her own little bank account. She’s talking to everyone [and] so that’s helped with her confidence in communicating.”
The homemade treats are baked and packaged each week in the Brito family kitchen, using natural ingredients like honey, oats, carrots and peanut butter.
Often, Aliyah gets help with the mixing, rolling and cookie-cutting from her big sister Makayla.
“I like helping because it’s Aliyah’s dream to make cookies for dogs,” Mayaka said. “It makes me feel happy for her.”
For Aliyah, the happiness comes from meeting her customers in person. She and her mother do treat “drop-offs” at her furry customers’ homes in the area, and seeing her four-legged friends is the pay-off.
“It’s priceless. They [the dogs] run to her, they know her, they know the packaging,” Sandra said. “We’ve always known that there was something with her and animals and she’s always shown how much she loves them.”
Many in the community believe Aliyah to be one of Milton’s youngest entrepreneurs.
“She will tell you that she has school, she has dance and she has a job,” Sandra said. “And as long as Aliyah loves this, and she continues to thrive and continues to learn, moving forward, I will make it happen.”
Sandra said the “Aliyah’s Pet Bites” experience has given her daughter the confidence to know that she can do anything.
“My hope is that [Aliyah] just knows that she’s amazing, regardless of what anybody has ever said, or what doctors have said,” she said.
“This was a child I was told [who] couldn’t do much. So I’m very, very proud. I couldn’t be prouder.”