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At just 25, Naomi Davis finds herself the head of one of Australia’s most successful all natural dog treat companies – Treats a la Bark.
While most of us (this editor included!) may have celebrated their quarter century by traveling around Europe or drinking their body weight in champagne, Naomi has dedicated the past two years to building her small business from the ground up.
With a passion for pets and a devotion to organic and low allergenic ingredients, Treats a la Bark has quickly become the go-to pet treat for many Australian dog owners.
Pretty Fluffy went Behind the Brand to find out how one small pug plus one bright idea became one big business.
Name: Naomi Davis
Title & Company: Founder, Treats a la Bark
Location: Sydney, Australia
Treats a la Bark’s motto is to “change the world of dogs one bite at a time.” What inspired you to start a dog treat brand?
I’ve always been a big believer in healthy food. When you eat well, it shows in your body both inside and out. I believe this is the same for dogs.
My dog, Rufio, has very sensitive skin and he used to experience painful itching and redness. I started looking into what he was eating and was shocked at the scary ingredients and artificial additives that are inside dog food and commercial dog treats. After talking to other people, I noticed that there were lots of other dogs with sensitive skin and tummies too and that this is becoming increasingly common.
I realised there was a real gap in the market for organic and low allergy alternatives and so Treats a la Bark was born.
I wanted to create a brand where people could feel safe knowing that they are only giving the best for their pup, without risk of allergic reaction, whilst also feeling good about treating them with a high quality Australian made product.
What was your background prior to Treats a la Bark?
I worked in Human Resources for a corporate health company.
Rufio must have been a huge influence in your life to inspire a whole new brand…
Rufio is naughtiness wrapped in mischief wrapped inside absolute love and loyalty.
I wake up and fall asleep to the sound of him snoring on my pillow. He is an avid toy collector which can be found and distributed throughout couches and beds and any other sleep worthy location. He lives for his sardines and trips to our local dog park, café bones!
To me, he is the role model for life. He makes the absolute most out of every day whether by finding new hiding spots on his walk, making sure his bowl is cleaner than the day before or by taking longer naps than he ever has before! He never fails to make me smile.
Our workplace wouldn’t be complete without Rufio. He usually spends most of his day sleeping on his pod, snoring loudly. We actually find it very therapeutic! It’s hard to be stressed when he’s looking so relaxed and calm every day.
Since launching in 2012, you’ve amassed a loyal following. Who is the Treats a la Bark customer?
The Treats a la Bark customer is someone who sees their dog as a little human with 4 legs.
They love treating them to high quality Australian made products and look for organic and chemical free alternatives to ensure their fur family is not at risk of harm. Some of our customers have dogs with inflammatory bowel disease and have finally found a safe way to reward their pup.
Your range is known for its human grade quality and certified organic ingredients. Why is this a focus for you?
Organic ingredients are not covered with poisonous chemicals such as pesticides or fungicides and are never genetically modified. This means that all their goodness is left intact, the way nature intended. By using organic ingredients we can be sure that your dogs are getting the very best.
Giving them organic is only half the story. Many treats on the market still contain common allergens such as wheat, soy and dairy as well as artificial ingredients such as refined sugar. We wanted to create a treat that was completely natural and safe for all dogs.
What does the treat making process involve?
Lots of hard labour! All of our biscuits are hand made. We rent a commercial kitchen on a casual basis with the help of some wonderful people to hand roll the dough and cut out every single biscuit in the Treats a la Bark range!
How do you come up with the variety of flavours?
With the help of our fantastic customers! We get customers to fill out feedback forms on what other types of flavours they would like to see – this is where the latest flavor Sweet Potato Hash Brown came from!
What’s the best thing about running your own pet business?
Being able to combine my love of dogs and health and having fun creating and developing our brand as well as connecting with all our wonderful customers – I am constantly energised by gorgeous photos and lovely emails.
What top tips would you give to someone wanting to start their own pet related business?
Listen to what customers want and find a gap in the market. Only enter into a business you are passionate about. This will be what gets you through your roller coaster journey and keep you focused on your goals.
With 2 years of continued success behind you, can you give us a sneak peek of what Treats a la Bark has in store for the future?
Exciting new flavours & continued growth!
We are working hard to communicate the importance of organic, low allergy food whilst also building a community of dog lovers who want the best for their fur family and a brand that pups can’t live without!
You’ve achieved so much at such a young age, what advice would you give young women wanting to become entrepreneurs?
Life is short. Don’t be afraid to give it a go – regret is worse than failure! If we don’t take control of our dreams then they will never be more than just a dream!
Always surround yourself with people who believe in you and find a great mentor. Use your passion to guide you. Never underestimate yourself – you know a lot more than you think!