A Largo resident who makes pet products from recycled plastic has been named a finalist in Amazon’s first Small Business Spotlight Awards.

LARGO, FL — A single mom in Largo who started a company that makes dog harnesses and leashes from recycled water bottles has been named a finalist in Amazon’s first Small Business Spotlight Awards.

Tristin Gratz, founder of EcoBark Pet Supplies, a sustainable pet products company, is among six nominees for the national honor.

The awards program was established this year to honor and celebrate top small businesses across America selling products on Amazon. Categories include Small Business of the Year, Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year and Small Business Owner Under 30 of the Year.

Since Sept. 20, more than 1,300 U.S. small businesses were nominated for the first-time Amazon awards. Six finalists were selected per category based on their origin story and company vision; customer centricity; and product innovation, selection and value.

Winners will be selected by customer vote. Voting is open now through Nov. 8 by clicking here.

The finalists are:

Small Business of the Year:

  • Ayoba-Yo, a South African-style meat snacks company, based in Fairfax, Virginia.
  • Baking Steel Company, which produces pizza baking steels and griddles, based in Cohasset, Massachusetts.
  • Damhorst Toys & Puzzles, maker of wooden toys, based in Hermann, Missouri.
  • EcoBark, a sustainable pet products company, based in Largo.
  • nutpods, which makes non-dairy, unsweetened creamers, based in Bellevue, Washington.
  • Ravenox, a ropes and hardware company, based in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year:

  • 1818 Farms, which produces bath and beauty products, based in Mooresville, Alabama.
  • EazyHold, maker of grip cuffs for people with disabilities, based in Simi Valley, California.
  • Nerdbugs, which makes organ-shaped plush toys, based in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • OBIA Naturals, a natural hair and skin care company, based in Dallas.
  • Soul Insole, which makes foot rehabilitation products, based in San Diego.
  • Ultimation Industries, manufacturer of conveyor systems, based in Roseville, Michigan.

Small Business Owner Under 30 of the Year:

  • Bedtime Bulb, maker of sleep light bulbs, based in Philadelphia.
  • Habit Nest, which makes journals to build good habits, based in Los Angeles.
  • Joe Chocolate Co., which produces caffeine-infused chocolates, based in Seattle.
  • Player Ten Games, a party games company, based in Austin, Texas.
  • Renova Medical Wear, maker of clothing for postoperative patients, based in Weehawken, New Jersey.
  • Watex Green Living, which makes urban garden products, based in Lake Forest, California.

Winners from each category will receive a prize package including six months of dedicated Amazon account management, Sponsored Products advertising credits, promotion on Amazon.com, and a trip to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Winners will be announced later this year.

A year after the launch of Amazon Storefronts – Amazon’s store to exclusively shop American businesses – the program has grown to more than 2.5 million items from nearly 30,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, with more than 250 million items sold to more than 70 million unique customers

“Small businesses across America and around the world are both our partners and our customers,” said Nicholas Denissen, Amazon vice president of small business. “They are at the heart of our business and key to our success. That’s why we continue to invest billions in the infrastructure, tools and programs, such as Storefronts and these awards, to help them reach more customers and grow.”

Altogether, U.S.-based small- and medium-sized businesses sell on average more than 4,000 items per minute in Amazon’s stores. Overall, independent third-party sellers – primarily small- and medium-sized businesses – made up 58 percent of all physical gross merchandise sold in Amazon’s stores last year and their sales far exceeded $2 billion on Prime Day in July this year.

Gratz began EcoBark Pet Supplies as an Amazon-only store while living in Clearwater.

“As a single mother, I always wanted to be an independent business owner and to help handle the earth’s growing pollution problem by reducing plastic waste and carbon use,” said Gratz. “I’ve been able to do both by launching my first product, a dog harness that is made from recycled water bottles. We are a complete eco-friendly pet supply company where all products use a process of taking recycled water bottles, hemp or bamboo to make pet supplies.”

In the five years since starting her business, Gratz has expanded her line of pet products to include the Max Comfort Harness, Rapid Fastener Harness, Comfort Grip Leash and Bow Tie Collars.

In addition to Amazon, EcoBark products are now available on the e-commerce sites Chewy, Walmart, Rakuten, onBuy.com, Sears, Bonanza and Wish.

“From our products to our packaging, we want to reduce our impact on the planet while helping our customers reduce their own carbon footprint,” she said. “We are focused on creating products that are made as much as possible from sustainable materials, like recycled water bottles and hemp.”

Gratz said she’s thrilled to be nominated for the Amazon award and is urging all of her customers and neighbors in Pinellas County to help get out the vote for EcoBark.

“Please click on the link to vote for my company,” said Gratz. “This could help us get millions in advertising and help me immensely.”

SOURCE: patch.com