Kendra Locke and Corene Petitpren 1st fulfilled though on vacation well being care assignments in Michigan, exactly where they’d commonly see each and every other walking their puppies. The lifelong animal fans are now married and living in Cape Coral — in which their four-legged pals are at the heart of their burgeoning company enterprise, The K9 Kitchen.

It all commenced when they were doing the job in California many decades ago and noticed their pet dog walker making her own pet dog food items. They preferred to get out of wellbeing care (they worked in sterile processing in functioning rooms) and assumed a little something dog-related would be a great move. So they commenced taking part in around with their individual recipes for doggy foods and making an attempt it out on their animals.

“We have been noticing a huge distinction just by getting absent some kibble and adding refreshing fruits and greens,” states Locke, 40. “Their strength degrees acquired better our black puppy acquired rid of its dandruff. That’s type of when it clicked and we had been like, let’s do a canine food stuff enterprise.”

It is taken a ton of research and lots of demo and error to mature the organization, but today The K9 Kitchen is on the verge of big matters. It is now marketing its all-purely natural, antibiotic-, hormone-, and steroid-no cost fresh pet food stuff nationally through its site (thek9kitchenllc.com) and is putting different pieces in area for long term development.

“Our slogan is ‘for the adore of pet dogs,’ and we make them this seriously healthier meals for the reason that they give us so a great deal enjoy,” suggests Locke. “That’s why we do it. We do not want to be the largest business we just want to be the finest. We’re not in it to be millionaires. We’re in it to assistance puppies have a more healthy lifetime.”

Conquer worries

Locke and Petitpren started by going to LegalZoom and placing up a business enterprise identify, then investigated puppy foodstuff and labeling demands. “We fundamentally uncovered alongside the way,” states Locke.

Their veterinarian suggested contacting a vet nutritionist to assist them refine their recipes. Immediately after researching choices, they went with one primarily based in North Carolina. Locke and Petitpren offered the ingredients they desired to use, and the vet nutritionist built confident the recipes have been nutritionally balanced and fully protected for canines. “It’s tremendous, tremendous high-priced but thoroughly really worth it,” claims Locke.

Subsequent up was all the demanded registrations and licensing for jogging the enterprise. Locke and Petitpren initially self-funded almost everything with their savings. The K9 Kitchen formally introduced in September 2019, and the firm kicked off sales in January 2020 by offering its two dog meals recipes at 4 Southwest Florida farmers’ marketplaces.

‘We really don’t want to be the most important firm we just want to be the greatest. We’re not in it to be millionaires. We’re in it to assistance dogs have a more healthy existence.’ Kendra Locke, The K9 Kitchen

That was a start out-tiny solution that manufactured total feeling at that time. But then the pandemic, of system, shut almost everything down. “The entire world went upside down, and we had to figure out are we likely to shut the small business or move ahead?” states Locke.

They decided to use that time when the markets had been shut down to come up with a 3rd doggy food items recipe two kinds of dog treats and 6 flavors of “pup-sicles.” “We just took that time and despatched every thing to the vet nutritionist, got all the labels manufactured and registered every products by means of the Florida Department of Agriculture,” suggests Locke. “By the time we could start off acquiring out there once more, we experienced much more products and solutions to present. So COVID really damage us, but it aided us at the very same time.”

The company produced some faithful clients. But profits weren’t as robust as they desired to be to maintain the small business. The K9 Kitchen had a website, but it didn’t function as very well as it should have. So last summer months, Locke and Petitpren found themselves at a turning place: they had to evaluate the viability of their company.

They commenced the approach of closing up shop, getting down the company’s website and Google listing. But when a single regular client could not find them on-line any more, she gave them a contact and asked if Locke and Petitpren would be willing to talk with her and her partner about their business.

“We experienced in no way witnessed these people today they just placed orders,” states Locke. During their telephone simply call the partner questioned inquiries like why they started off the firm and what sort of products they needed. “I was like, what is this male obtaining at?” remembers Locke. “Then they said, ‘We’re buyers. Really don’t shut the organization down. Here’s a chunk of dollars to retain it open.’”

The arrangement’s still in a trial stage and the investors favor to continue being in the qualifications. But if all retains heading perfectly, they’ll set a official system with each other. “Basically the ball’s in our court,” claims Locke.

Spread the Phrase

The K9 Kitchen area now prepares and cooks its merchandise at the Florida Culinary Accelerator in Immokalee. Its hen, beef, and turkey recipes are all produced with fresh new meat, grains, fruits, and greens that are human quality. “You could consider a chunk out of any one particular of our food items,” suggests Locke.

The organization employs substances from neighborhood farms whenever it can and is working on receiving its products and solutions certified as natural. “I want folks to know that when they see our brand or see The K9 Kitchen area, they know it is good quality,” claims Petitpren, 52. “Kendra and I attempt to retain chemical compounds out of our meals. That is why all the meats we use have no steroids, hormones, or antibiotics. We enjoy canine and want many years extra on to their currently quick daily life — content and nutritious several years.”

Stefania Pifferi.Kendra Locke and Corene Petitpren established The K9 Kitchen in 2019.

The corporation will quickly be transferring to a greater house at the Culinary Accelerator when one more business enterprise moves out. That will give Locke, Petitpren, and their section-time employee additional place to make and retailer foods — an important factor since every little thing is produced contemporary and with no preservatives — and let them to ship orders from the professional kitchen area, as well. (Ideal now that is performed out of the owners’ property.) The investor connection involves the possibility of locating place and placing jointly the company’s very own industrial kitchen at some issue down the road.

There’s a large potential sector out there for the corporation. According to details from the American Pet Goods Association, 69 million U.S. households have a doggy as a pet. And it’s approximated that pet homeowners invested $44.1 billion on pet food items and treats in 2021.

Locke and Petitpren declined to offer particular revenue figures. But from December 2021 to the close of February, site product sales were up 261%, e-mail subscribers were up 436%, Fb engagement was up 115% and Facebook followers have been up 11%. “In the previous handful of months we have certainly developed, which is just brilliant,” says Locke.

A new aim on internet marketing endeavours is encouraging to drive that advancement and introduce far more people today to the company’s merchandise. In 2021 The K9 Kitchen area began operating with Jennifer Leach, president of Screaming Supporters Marketing in Naples. “They experienced already developed a good line of products and they had loyal consumers, but they had been definitely struggling striving to get the phrase out to the larger sized audience,” claims Leach.

Because then the company’s performed a pricing analysis, revamped and enhanced its web page, and developed new brand name files to greater marketplace alone. “We experienced to current our message to everybody in a obvious and steady way,” states Leach. “That way persons who see us can realize the manufacturer and what it’s all about…Getting our messaging straight and reliable has genuinely been a significant aspect of the essential in assisting consumers realize the advantages of The K9 Kitchen area, how to obtain it, and why they should get it.”

The corporation is also having a new application off the ground to spouse with social media influencers. “We know that men and women who are buyers of The K9 Kitchen area are major admirers,” suggests Leach. “So we wanted to give all those people an avenue to spread the term and gain a little little bit though they’re accomplishing it.”

Regionally The K9 Kitchen products are bought at Farmer Joe’s in Cape Coral, quite a few Doggy Best places, Small Paws Bakery in Fort Myers and Burnt Keep Animal Clinic in Punta Gorda. Darlene Sumner, operator of Minor Paws Bakery and a accredited canine nutritionist, appreciates that The K9 Kitchen’s pet foodstuff is human quality and designed from significant-good quality substances.

“They took the effort and hard work to uncover the most nutritional sources for their foodstuff, and it’s formulated and balanced,” she says. “You can’t have a healthful puppy if you don’t feed your dog healthy food stuff. I like the actuality that they are neighborhood, and I like to help out tiny firms simply because I am a small business enterprise.”

“It’s pleasant to know that the science is behind it, so you know that your pet dog is obtaining a entire diet plan,” adds Nicole Kenedy, senior supervisor of Canine Ideal. “What I notify a large amount of people…is yes, you’re paying much more cash on their diet [than with traditional dry or canned dog food]. But you’re not shelling out dollars on illness. So with feeding fresh or uncooked or a awesome 50 %-and-fifty percent mixture, your canine are considerably less inclined to allergic reactions and considerably less inclined to tummy upset. They have minimized shedding and cleaner teeth. There’s a ton of positive aspects to feeding new.”

Now with the company’s improved internet site and capability to serve clients nationwide (other than Alaska and Hawaii), the future seems to be dazzling. “Since we crafted the new site and launched it, it is getting more and more traction just about every thirty day period and income are rising,” claims Leach. “I’ve got actually substantial hopes for them.”