Love for dogs and cats was the main drive for this business owner based in Parañaque to start a pet food brand in 2021!
It was in the middle of the pandemic when Patricia Calderon, a licensed interior designer, saw the opportunity to venture into the pet food industry. At the time, lockdowns were in place and the surge in pet ownership created a demand for pet food products.
“Growing up, meron na talaga kaming mga hayop sa bahay. May pusa kami, may aso kami, may ibon,” Calderon shared.
Drawing from her own upbringing in a household surrounded by pets, she seized the opportunity. Luckily, one of her interior design clients also voiced support for her plans.
“I had a project and then I met this client. Residential projects are really different than commercial kasi you get to know your client even better on a personal level. I’m fortunate enough to meet my business partner. ‘Yung pamilya nila, they’re also pet lover,” Calderon told The Philippine STAR in an exclusive interview.
While working closely with her client, she met their pet dog named Tiger, a golden retriever. Following several home visits, she got exposed to the challenges of securing real and quality food for pets.
“Both us are medyo health enthusiasts. We’re going to try different diets. Always keeping track of what’s healthy and what’s not. They used to order sawdust (meat) online for Tiger. It was really a struggle na ‘pag nag-order sila ng sawdust online, pupuntahan pa nila sa gate ‘yung pick-up ng delivery because bawal pumasok eh,” she recalled.
In September 2021, she and her former client, now her business partner, started planning and putting together a pet food brand with a goal to provide fur parents an alternative to commercial products.
“We did our research, our background studies with the pet food industry. We were fortunate enough to work with the late Doc Joseph [who] helped us formulate the product. He led the feeding trial to make sure that the product is okay for cats and dogs. We tried it with our own pets, friends and family pa lang and they liked it,” she shared.
Calderon said that their common passion for animal welfare was the driving force to establish Paleo Pet — a pet food brand that uses 100 percent human-grade meat.
“Can we imagine ourselves eating fast food every day? If we wanted to prolong the lives of our pets, and if wanted to spend time with them as much as we can, the only thing that’s within our control would be the food that they eat, how we treat them,” she stressed.
After months of trial and testing around Laguna, Calderon was finally ready to introduce Paleo Pet to the public. But how can her small business compete with many established pet food products in the market?
“From giving pouches to our neighbors, nagpo-post ako online sa Facebook group no’ng pandemic na giveaway. Sobrang pabigay na lang talaga. With word of mouth, dumadami na ‘yong order,” she recalled.
From a small-time business, Paleo Pet grew into a six-figure business. They can now sell around 90,000 products every month. Last year, they were also able to open a hub in Cebu.
“One of our main goals kasi here in Metro Manila is something that we would also want to apply in the Visayas and Mindanao region, and that would be offering our customers a same-day delivery, an instant delivery. Si Cebu branch is something that’s very fresh and recent. Because if we cannot find the perfect distributor that can meet the order quantity, then we might just do it ourselves,” she said.
Calderon said that one of the best feelings of managing this kind of business is receiving feedback from fur parents.
“’Yong expression pa lang nong owner na, “Oh my God, my dog liked it. Can I order?” ‘yong ganyang feeling ba. That’s something na nakikita ko na okay, may sense rin naman ‘tong ginagawa ko. May sense of fulfillment,” she shared. — Janelle Lorzano