Laughter erupts throughout the kitchen, Olivia throwing her head back as she holds a piping bag full of colorful, yet vibrant frosting. I sit across from her, watching as she intricately frosts each petit sized donut, carefully ensuring that each delectable delicacy receives an equal amount of sugary goodness. Hues of mellowed teal, pastel pink, and baby blue litter the counter behind us; all donuts topped with rainbow sprinkles and lots of love.
Olivia bites her bottom lip in concentration, brushing a few strands of silky brunette hair away from her face and squints ever so slightly in complete focus. A soft yellow light illuminating from the kitchen lights behind us spread warmth throughout the room, painting the scene like something out of a fairytale. Just as it started, she sets the now empty piping bag on the dining table and gestures to her work with both hands, a proud beam plastered on her face.
Sophomore Olivia Schwab has been making doggie donuts only recently, but the effort and perfection she puts into each piece can convince a person she’s been doing this for years. Olivia has always been fond of running her own business, captivated by the entrepreneurial role and leadership skills such a responsibility entails. So when the pandemic started, she sought out this convenient opportunity to kickstart her dream.
Griff and Summer Doggie Donuts, named after both her adorable pups, has only been in business since the start of the pandemic back in March of 2020, but already has a reputable standing within her community.
“[I’ve always wanted to be] a business owner and lead, cause I feel like that’s something I’ve always been passionate about: leading, being in charge of something, and building stuff from the ground up,” Olivia says.
Olivia briefly adjusts herself on the plush, cotton seat she’s resting upon, and picks up a newly frosted treat with her right hand, presenting it as if it were a priceless work of art. I see a glimmer of pride in her eyes, a bright smile dawning on her face as she shows off the doggie delight representing her creative, yet bubbly personality.
“Me and my mom, we’re very creative people and I get a lot of my creativity from her and so we’ve just kind of brainstormed and [Griff and Summer Doggie Donuts] evolved so much with our ideas. I mean, I did not expect this but I’m running with it,” Olivia explains.
Lately, Griff and Summer has been booming with customers. Some are new, but most of them are returning customers to the beloved business. I can practically see Olivia bouncing up and down in her seat as she excitedly recounts some familiar faces, like that of a dog named Georgia.
“I’ve met so many people in my community because I live in the Plainfield-Oswego area, and I’ve met so many people, I’ve been able to be more connected, and I have a bunch of returning customers that I’m friends with now. We have this one dog Georgia who comes in every single week to the farmers’ market to pick up her dog treat,” Olivia says.
Her own dogs Griff and Summer trudge over to us, their tails wagging back and forth excitedly. Their round eyes dart to the treat in Olivia’s hand, and she carefully breaks the donut in half before giving them each a piece. Her deep brown eyes lovingly look at the sight, and I realize just how grateful she is to have something so meaningful in her life that inspired her own passion for being an entrepreneur.
However, meeting various people and connecting with her community is just the tip of the iceberg; Griff and Summer Doggie Donuts has taught her essential life skills that will benefit her for the future as well.
“I feel like I’ve definitely matured a lot from it because obviously I’m the one leading it and founding it. I’ve dealt with like a lot of customers and stuff, and I’ve learned how to socialize with them and I’ve also learned like how to prioritize and manage my time,” Olivia explains. “I’m still a student, I have to focus on homework as well, but I’ve also learned like okay, I’ll do my homework now, and then I’ll spend the rest of the night working on spreadsheets of managing my expenses and profits, and then also planning different ideas, like new flavors for dog treats, and just altering the pricing. But I feel like overall, it’s taught me a lot on how to be responsible and managing.”
No one knows that more than her own family. Olivia’s mother Kelly Schwab is especially elated that her daughter is learning to gain a sense of independence, maturing into a young individual with an innovative, yet professional mindset.
“I wanted her to create something that would bring out what was in her all along. I knew she possessed all the necessary attributes, like independence and professionalism, to run a successful business, she just needed the vehicle to express them,” Kelly says. “I think she’ll be using this experience as a roadmap for all her future endeavors. The next time she starts a new business and is nervous, she can reference the humble beginnings of her doggie donuts business and know evolution and success are on the horizon, just like it was with Griff and Summer.”
Olivia’s hard-earned efforts aren’t going unnoticed. Generations above and below her own are recognizing just how much time she gives into her business every single day. Grandmother Lori Overbaugh has had the pleasure of watching young Olivia grow up into a lady, delighted that her endeavors are becoming a success.
“You have a 15-year old with her own business that started out of a pandemic. She was asked to bring Griff and Summer Doggie Donuts to other farmers markets and craft fairs and the community followed her. Other vendors want to set up next to her because of all the clientele she has. I’ve attended all her markets and have seen her in action. The customers love her and her product,” Lori says.
Her little brother Sawyer Schwab not only notices the importance of Griff and Summer and how it has brought out Olivia’s best qualities, but the impact it has made in their daily lives as well. He’s grateful for the time he gets to spend with his family, especially his older sister Olivia.
“She has matured her greeting and has improved on her networking ability… she has been able to connect with the community and other small businesses. Griff and Summer has benefited our lives because it has made us spend time with each other and help us learn to work together as a family,” Sawyer says.
Olivia is grateful for the continued and never ending support from her friends and family. Her heart is twice as big as her peppy personality, Griff and Summer representing the constant love she receives from all over her community.
“I know that I’m so lucky to have such a strong support system … I always try to give back to them because I obviously would not be where I am without them,” Olivia says. “It’s super great that everybody helps out, and I feel so much love and I’m thankful for that and I just want to pass on all the love to everybody and their dogs.”
Kelly reveals a crucial key component to form her support to Olivia: a secret ingredient tucked away in the pages of an old recipe book. A secret ingredient not found in the hundreds of delectable donuts produced each week.
“Giving my time is probably the most important and influential contribution I can give her. Businesses take dedication, and I’m dedicated to giving her the framework for running her business. I’ve spent late nights baking with her. Our family has baked together. This demonstrates that you need a support system in place for all those late nights. Yes, it’s possible to try to do everything on your own, but support from those who love you is really motivating,” Kelly explains.
Olivia’s grandmother shares the same sentiment, revealing another key ingredient to the recipe of Olivia’s support; that a successful business must also have the unwavering support of its community.
“You need to have community in your life and Olivia certainly has it,” Overbaugh adds.
But the most important ingredient of all is simply found right in front of your eyes. The undying support of a sibling can mean the most to some people, but to Sawyer, he never fails to make it a point to be there for his sister through thick and thin.
“I try my best to come to lots of her markets and simply be there for her. I bring lots of humor and make the family laugh, usually with my sarcastic remarks,” Sawyer says.
As our day comes to a close, I observe Olivia’s calm, yet cheery expression. A simple emotion plastered on her face, yet gives away the details to a story that’s just beginning. Griff and Summer Doggie Donuts has integrated it’s way into her life now, and represents a desire to do more than just what she’s capable of. A passion that is ignited within her like the flame of a wildfire, neverending and burning ever so bright.
“I feel like I’ve always wanted to make a difference and do something with my time. I feel like I’ve always wanted to do something bigger than me. I mean obviously when I was younger I didn’t think it would be Doggie Donuts, but it could change. My whole life may not be Doggie Donuts, but I wanted to continue to take this platform and just evolve the business [and] evolve as a person,” Olivia says.
Beliah Christian is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl