Madeleine Curry, from Cheshire, believes that what you put into your pet’s body should not only be tasty to them but also healthy, natural and nutritious. After leaving her job with an elite accountancy firm, Maddie spent some time working in canine rescue and rehabilitation, when she came up with her business idea. Maddie said:
“I have a great passion for dogs; my own Cavapoo, Teddy, is by my side all day every day. I therefore know what a difference good quality treats can make to a dog’s life. From being able to spoil your pet with something they love, perfecting your off-lead recall, to getting that abandoned dog to wag its tail for the first time in a week.”
The Posh Pet Kitchen is a bespoke pet treat company specialising in all-natural pet treats. Maddie launched the business in 2018, with her business partner Sophie, a bioveterinary science graduate.
Their core product range includes treats such as ‘Liver Brownies’, ‘Peanut Butter Bites’ and ‘Catch of the Day’ crispy fish. Personalised occasion cakes to celebrate a birthday or ‘gotchaday’ have recently been added to the website shop. All Posh Pet Kitchen products are made by Maddie and Sophie themselves, are DEFRA-approved and promise to be hypoallergenic, grain-free and with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
The Posh Pet Kitchen products are sold via the website and Maddie also sells direct to customers via stalls at festivals and events.
Maddie’s family has a strong military connection; her brother is an Air Traffic Control Officer in the Royal Navy, her uncle is a retired Observer in the Royal Navy, now a Reservist, and her cousin serves in the RAF Regiment.
Through X-Forces Enterprise (XFE), Maddie was able to access a Start Up Loan for £7000 to get started, investing in a laptop, branding, a website and food preparation equipment. For twelve months, Maddie also received one-to-one mentoring, a scheme supported by Start Up Loans and TRBL. Maddie said:
“I’d wanted to be my own boss since a business studies teacher ignited the spark in me at 14 years old but, I hadn’t even looked into the possibility of getting a loan because I just thought no one would lend to someone of my age. One day someone said to me ‘just do it’ to which I replied ‘well it isn’t that easy’ and when he asked ‘why not?’, I didn’t know the answer. I looked online for the government-backed schemes which referred me to X-Forces and, from then, the process has been a dream.
“X-Forces has helped me in many ways but mainly, as a 22-year old first-time business owner, I feel like a very small fish in a very big sea. However, not once have I felt like anyone hasn’t taken me seriously because of my age. My XFE business advisor is always there whenever I need at the end of the phone or email. Also, the document templates they provide for your business plan and cashflow statements were invaluable.”
In addition to providing all varieties of pets and owners with quality products, The Posh Pet Kitchen also aims to create a community of like-minded animal-lovers to help educate and make a difference to those who are a little less fortunate. Maddie intends to grow the business to become a household name that pets and owners alike will not only love, but that they can trust.
Asked about the challenges she’s faced on her journey into business, Maddie identified a number of learnings:
“The biggest challenge has been trying to tackle things head-on whilst being completely blind. What I mean by this is that I have set up a business in pet food which I know a lot about but to do this, I’ve had to tackle all the other sides of setting up a business including marketing, insurance, accounts, trading standards, taking payments, health and safety (the list could go on forever!) which has been really challenging. It took nearly a year to begin trading, a huge amount of which had been to do with new pet food licensing laws and then a ridiculous amount of delays from the authorities, beyond my control.
“Also I had a bad experience with a web design company whereby I found out that they, after starting the job for me, didn’t have the expertise to deliver what they had promised. I had already paid 75% of my fee and their terms were heavily stacked in their favour. I felt I’d been mis-sold but, in the end, I had to walk away from my money.”
XFE Chairman Martin Wing said:
“Throughout our interactions with Maddie, in setting up her business and mentoring since, it has been obvious to us that her love of business and determination to succeed far outreaches preconceptions of someone of her young age. Her progress with The Posh Pet Kitchen demonstrates her strong commercial acumen and it is inspiring to watch her brand grow.”
We caught up with Maddie for an update on The Posh Pet Kitchen:
“We have gone from strength to strength! We now have a bakery and boutique on Park Lane in Poynton along with having a commercial kitchen fitted next week and an office above. It does however feel like we are quickly outgrowing even this space with this massive uplift in the dog market since lockdown!
I’ve moved out of home now and my mum wanted to keep teddy so he isn’t by my side as much anymore however I adopted an ex breeding shih tzu found in a horrendous state from the rspca 18 months ago who is now with me all the time!
We recently ran a ‘Christmas pudding campaign’ for rescue dogs the last 2 Christmases where members of the public can buy one of our Christmas puddings for a dog who doesn’t have a home. In 2019 we delivered them all ourselves to try and raise awareness for the rescue dogs, however this past year they were just sent via post because of COVID-19 restrictions.
We continue to try and set an example in a very unregulated industry and want to continue educating people what to do and not to do with their pets!”
For more information:
X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, and official delivery partner to the government’s Start Up Loans Company and MoD’s Career Transition Partnership. XFE supports Service leavers, veterans, spouses, cadets and Armed Forces family members to start their own businesses with a full package of training, finance, networking and mentoring. Start your journey by registering today here.
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