'Our dog was our motivation’ - couple behind organic dog treats business
- Credit: Toby's Favourites / ARCHANT
A couple from Littleport who started an organic, plant-based dog treats business in 2020 say the gap in the market for their own dog was their motivation.
Stuart Park and his wife Anita, founded Toby’s Favourites from their home in Littleport, and it’s been growing ever since.
“Our Yorkshire Terrier, named Toby, had a lot of dietary issues when he was younger and after a blood test, we were told he had a lot of allergies meaning there were many foods he couldn’t eat,” said Stuart.
The couple tried to find dog treats to fit Toby’s needs, but this proved very difficult, especially when looking into pet legislation.
That’s when Anita started baking her own treats for Toby.
“Due to Covid, Anita had more time, so she baked all different flavoured treats which through our research, we knew would be fine for him,” said Stuart.
“We ended up passing batches on to family and friends and they really liked the idea and concept around it.
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“We realised then that maybe there was something in this, and that’s when Toby’s Favourites was born.”
Due to both Stuart and Anita having a food manufacturing/compliance background between them, they have been able to work on the business solely by themselves.
Toby’s Favourites really started moving after the couple began selling the dog treats online in early 2021.
By May, Stuart and Anita were completing many face-to-face sales.
“After talking to a number of people we’ve met through selling at markets/events, we’ve really realised just how many other people with dogs are in a similar situation to us,” said Stuart.
“When we go to the markets in Ely and dogs stop to have some water, we always ask the owner if their dog would like a treat.
“Sometimes the response is ‘oh my dog can’t have that he’s allergic’ and that’s when we can let them know our business covers that gap in the market.
He added: “We actually had someone message us on Instagram too with a list of all the allergies their dog has, asking us if we had something suitable – give it a few weeks and we’d created a sample treat for them to try.”
With the success of Toby’s Favourites, Stuart has left his previous job and is now able to dedicate his time to something he really enjoys.
“I used to work in a factory doing 12-hour shifts and I’m busier now than I ever was then.
“Because it’s your own business, you take a lot of pride in it (especially when it bears the face and name of your own dog).”
Looking to the future of Toby’s Favourites, Stuart and Anita hope to expand even more than they have over the past 12 months.
“We’d love to grow our business even further but we’re happy with where we’re at at the moment,” said Stuart.
“We don’t need to compromise and as we’re in control, we can create the exact products we want too – that's why we started in the first place, for our little Toby.
“We hope that by what we’re doing, we can really support those who have dogs with the same needs as Toby.”