Bolsover man's natural dog treat business celebrates success of first year thanks to cute Cockapoo mascot
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Owner Ben Haye was inspired to establish Natural Doggy Treats from his parents’ garage and his former bedroom in Hillstown in June 2020 – just a few months after he had got Dudley, a ginger Cockapoo puppy.
The 33-year-old moved back to the area in April last year following a five-year stay in Australia where he initially went as a backpacker across and then stayed after he took up a job in technology sales.
And despite his transfer to a UK company to work as a sales agent, two weeks after collecting his canine companion and identifying a gap in the market for completely natural dog treats – Ben set up a subscription-based website and started sourcing and delivering treat boxes locally.
"A gut feeling said 'look your time is done [in Australia] come home, something positive and good is going to happen',” said Ben.
"Then within the space of getting Dudley, within two weeks, this snowball effect of picking up the dog and learning about natural treats and meeting the suppliers.
"He has very much guided the whole process.”
He swapped his career in sales to focus on Natural Doggy Treats full-time in June – along with his mum Hazel Haye – and now has welcomed new-team member to run the company’s social media and even his grandma, who helps package orders from his old bedsit.
The business, which is the top-rated animal feed shop in the UK on Trust Pilot, has now turned over £500,000 in revenue – just 12 months after it was first established.
Natural Doggy Treats specialises in food boxes filled with genuine meat-off cuts for canines – consisting of rabbit ears, pig snouts, cow hooves, deer legs, chicken feet, bull horns and natural sausages.
"With it being my first time as a dog owner it is a bit of a struggle feeding them the right food - or what you think the right food is,” said Ben.
"And often the stuff you find in Tesco is filled with derivatives and not what it says on the packet, it is very vague,” he said.
"We walked into a pet shop and I could see all these natural treats – I asked the pet shop owner what he did with them and he said he used them to round up people's orders.
"I went away, built a subscription based website and quit my job after a week and it's just gone from strength to strength.”
The 19-month cockapoo has garnered a loyal following on social media with 3,500 people liking the Dudley’s Daily Digest Facebook page, where the team uploads videos, updates and pictures about the cuddly canine and his family.
Ben also uses the page to get feedback on customers about new ideas.
He said: "It started off with me dropping treats off in brown paper bags and now we are kind of turning over 100 boxes a day and we have got over 600 subscribers.
"It's grown really rapidly.”
The business is now selling its products on Amazon, along with a wholesale website.