CHICA + CO
I have always been involved within the dog showing world (my parents bred Cairn Terriers and I began showing my own dogs at 10 years of age). My adult life has been spent fostering abandoned dogs (and cats) and rehoming them. I always wanted to become a vet but unfortunately did not follow that path. Instead I volunteered at RSPCA as a Vet Nurse Assistant for some time.
Our dream is to give every dog the opportunity to live their best healthy lives. You are what you eat & the same goes for your pooch!
Our ex-puppy farm girl Chica came to us as a sickly little pup nearly 8 years ago. After trying every type of food on the market she still was not a happy girl, vomiting, diarrhoea & lethargy were a common occurrence. After 2 years we finally we had a diagnosis; acute Pancreatitis - a condition that was slowly killing her. After months of research, we finally designed a diet that met all her needs & allowed her the good health she deserved. This is was the day Chica+Co was born. Little Baeya came to us at 8 weeks from a reputable breeder. At 10 weeks of age she dislocated her hip & front shoulder. Scans showed she had been born with severe skeletal deformities - the vet’s prognosis was dire - a full hip replacement at 12 months & an ongoing medical plan to keep her pain free as possible as osteoarthritis was predicted at a very young age. She is also prone to her ears blocking causing chronic balance issues up as her ear canals are malformed, and she has hyper-mobility in all of her joints.
We set about treating her with all the medicinal foods we could research & find. She is the reason for so many of Chica+Co’s products in our range - joint mobility, reduction of inflammation, & pain-easing ingredients. We are so very happy to say at 2 years of age, little Baeya is pain-free, energetic & every bit the naughty monkey. She may run like Beyoncé dances, but she is living happily & most importantly painfree.
When did you start your business?
We have been operating as Chica and Co for nearly 3 years now. The first 2 years were a massive learning curve and most of this time was spent developing our range and ensuring premium quality - all without the use of any preservatives, chemicals or anything that is not species-appropriate.
What made you want to open a pet business?
DID YOU KNOW...
The pet food industry in Australia does not need to list preservatives, additives or chemicals or even ingredients like the human grade food industry does?
I know I care about what I put in my body, & the same goes for what I feed my family!
Our animals are our family, so Chica+Co was born from a need to give our pooches the best by making sure every single ingredient in our range has medicinal benefits & absolutely no chemicals or any nasties. And we wanted our knowledge and experience to be shared to help any other animals out there to live their healthiest lives.
Tell us more about your business
Our absolute favourite benefit from our business is getting out there and really making a difference in our customer's lives. I do animal nutrition consultations and love nothing more than helping an owner achieve huge improvements in their beloved animal's health and happiness. We attend 2-3 Farmers Markets a week (only 1 a week during the COVID-19 crisis, unfortunately). We have a wonderful regular customer base who visit us weekly to come and say hello, pick up their food and have a chat about their pet's health questions. I know almost all of my customer's animals names - but I struggle to remember their owner's names haha!
I do nutritional consults and meal plans for ill or convalescing dogs. I also do specific plans for pregnant bitches and carry this over into lactation and post-pregnancy health. Skin allergies and hotspots are my other common patients issues. It's not mentioned on my site as I don't charge - I find payment for my time usually comes in the form of referral and custom for life. (and wine lol!) Plus it makes me feel fantastic as I love nothing more than a happy ending like the Kelpie I treated with cancer - full chemo and an excellent diet and the little guy is happy, active and best of all painfree!
My most disliked part of running our business has to be the paperwork and GST record keeping! But that is a small price to pay to allow me the absolute pleasure I get from really making a difference to animals lives (and their humans!!)
What do you sell/offer?
We hand make premium-quality pet foods, all using locally sourced Australian ingredients. All our proteins and vegetables are carefully crafted into tasty 'treats' that really do have medicinal benefits. We have a range that features proteins (Chicken, Turkey, Roo and Pork), a baked cookie range that are all coconut flour and coconut oil-based and a seafood range packed full of omegas and fatty acids. We also are very proud to make the yummiest Bone Broth and offer it in a dried powdered form with a long shelf life. So much better than buying Broth in it's a refrigerated liquid form that has a very short shelf life. AND we also make the cutest Poochi Sushi - a combo of Schnapper, Hoki, Coconut and Tuna cookies with Nori and an all-egg omelette. No rice (obviously) just all species-appropriate food.
I can send images of any of our range if you'd like.
the website has our full range here: https://www.chicaandco.shop/
Do you own any pets yourself? What are their names and what type of pet?
Yes, we are proudly owned by 3 miniature dachshunds. Chica is the eldest, Tapita is the middle child and Baeya is our special little baby girl. My husband is Spanish so Chica means little girl, Tapita means tiny tapas and Baeya (Bella) means beautiful in Spanish. Currently we have no foster dogs living with us. Tropical fish, a Murry River Turtle and a cat that live with our daughter also make up the C+C family.
Who are some of your favourite Instagram Stars?
I am shocking at regular posting hence my Social following is low - BUT I can say I have great engagement and for the most part my followers are real customers not just randoms. ! That's a tough one! My beautiful friends are my influencers and they include:
Do you run ambassador programs and if so how can a pupper reading this find out more?
Yes see above. These people have all become my friends as well as customers and they offer a discount code for their followers to use and I offer them a discount code specifically for them to purchase. They on average post a story once or twice a week about our products.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Just do it! Follow your belief and your passion and it'll shine through. People engage with a brand that is genuine.