Long gone were the days when pet treats were plain ol’ cookies with no flavour. Since last year, local entrepreneurs have seemed to take a leap in the pet treats industry by creating something delicious and nutritious for our little furkids.
Samantha Darlene Fernandez started her business, Treats Pawpin in June 2020 — inspired by doggo brand ambassador, Mia who has a minor joint problem and extremely sensitive skin issues. As a hypoallergenic dog, Mia wasn’t able to consume normal kibbles or treats from pet stores like usual and most of the ones that the poor doggo tried could not agree with her skin.
“It was devastating to see the baby of the house constantly scratch her skin, resulting in scars and bald spots all over her body. Mia would visit the vet at least once a month,” Samantha explained.
With Mia’s wellbeing in mind, she tried recipes after recipes to make sure it would be suitable for her furkid.
Samantha works in her home kitchen carefully creating these treats from scratch and around her, you’d discover containers loaded up with the freshest ingredients.
In time, she eventually perfected the recipe and wanted to share her creations with everyone that could be in a similar situation as her. What sets her homemade treats different than the rest is that not only does it have nutritional advantages, but it also help prevent all sorts of infections.
So whether you have a cat or a dog, we’re glad to share that these tasty treats are suitable for both pets.
Her first product, the Chicky Munchies are made from fresh chicken breast, marinated with basil herbs and a tinge of turmeric. It is similar to regular jerkies but with extra health benefits for your furkids such as easing arthritis pain, able to help irritable bowel diseases, boosts the immune system and it is also anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer.
In terms of shelf life, the treats usually last between 2-3 weeks as long as it’s refrigerated to ensure that it’s crispy.
To add more flavour, she also made some peanut butter dip that pet lovers can use to dip the jerkies in. Her very own Pets Go Nuts comes with no sugar and salt or any of those artificial, preservatives nonsense. Safe to say, this is probably the healthiest peanut butter there is out there for your pets and it is known to be a great source of protein with heart-healthy fats, vitamin B, niacin and vitamin E.
All of Treats Pawpin’s products are freshly made at Samantha’s home using ingredients that you would only put in your own mouth. And like every fur-parents, her main focus is to reward the furkids with tasty treats whilst ensuring that they’re safe and healthy.
Since opening up in June, Samantha has produced at least three products within a short span of time with the Salmon Patty as the newest product that was launched on December 12.
These patties are made with the best of best flavours of fresh salmon and coated with some herbs and breadcrumbs.
Now that we know a little bit about the business, let’s get to know the founder of Treats Pawpin where she shares what it’s like to have supportive parents, why we should stop feeding our furkids kibbles and her vision for the brand.
Get to know Samantha
How did your parents influence you to be the person that you are today and what lessons and values can you share with us?
My parents are the two most influential people in my life, they teach me every day by leading by example. I have seen my parents sacrifice so much of themselves just as other parents do for their children. One thing that they have always taught my siblings and I is to chase our passions and not just for the sake of money. When I initially wanted to pursue my Diploma in Early Childhood Education (ECE), I had received several critics from people commenting on how they think it’s just about teaching children ABCs so why to take up a whole course to study for it and so on. It was demotivating and frustrating at times, but my parents always reassured me that when we work and do what we love, it doesn’t become a depressing job but rather something to look forward to every day. Another thing that my parents always taught us was to put our talents to good use. If it wasn’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur with Treats Pawpin. They pushed me to start up this business knowing that it would be out of my comfort zone doing so, but it will allow me to thrive.
How much do the treats cost?
The treats right now are catered to cats and dogs, it costs RM16.00 for a packet of 50gs and RM30.00 for 100gs. Pet owners get to decide if they would prefer small or big bites for their furkids.
Are there any pain point(s) that your brand has addressed for new customers? What were the main concerns usually?
The main concern is to dispatch our treats to customers from other states. During the pandemic season, several delivery companies hiked up the prices of delivery massively which affected and limited my sales and distribution. It was difficult to convince customers to pay the same amount of delivery at times for the item itself.
How do you cope with rejection? Both professionally and personally.
Involved in a voluntary organization, I am exposed to National Training Camps, hiking, survival camps and so on which was a test to my physical and mental strength, it came in handy during this whole pandemic season. Moreover, rejection is something that I hold so close to my heart because of the few months when I had received several rejected job offers. However, I knew that rather than simply tolerating the pain that came along with rejection, I could turn it into an opportunity for self-growth. With each rejection that I had received, I grew stronger and was not afraid to try and work even harder, which led to the whole Treats Pawpin business.
Share with us something that you’re working on improving about yourself and the business. How will that help with your goals?
One of the things that I am constantly trying to work on is to be able to maintain a healthy and happy work-life balance. Being a 24-year-old girl, pursuing her Masters, maintaining a pet treats business all by myself while having a day-to-day job, I realize that my goals must be realistic and achievable. My Master’s program which is blended learning, meaning classes online and physically which honestly requires a lot of discipline and commitment. Setting the right goals that are beyond my capability, I realize that I will have more potential than I think. My saying is always, ‘dream of building a rocket first, and when that works, set the next goal’. Break down your final goal into a set of smaller goals.
Should pet owners feed their pets a fresh diet instead of kibbles? Why?
When Mia was gifted to me years ago, I had to do a lot of research and studies to ensure the best for Mia’s well-being. And one of my main concerns was her food intake. I personally have tried feeding Mia kibbles for about a year or two, and that caused massive hair fall and bald spots on her skin. It was after a year that I decided to opt for a fresh diet for her, and it gave her more energy, healthier skin and a shiny coat of fur. Also, since Mia is an indoor dog, whenever she consumes kibbles, she tends to pass motion very often and her stools are big. This fresh diet, however, though it requires more work, it has definitely improved her digestive system as well.
Can you share with us how you market your small side business?
One of the things that I did less than a month back was collaborating with a brownies online business. With this, we did a giveaway that was a treat for both the pet as well as the owner. The giveaway really helped hike up the number of followers and sales for a 3-month-old business.
What are the most unforgettable memories and unspeakable challenges that you have faced so far?
One of the many unspeakable challenges that I have faced over the years repetitively, was how I used to go around to several pet stores, purchase high-end treats yet having to rush Mia to the 24-hour pet hospital at Kuala Lumpur due to the breakouts on her skin. Her skin would be in such terrible conditions that Mia would hardly even eat or move around. I can still recall the fear and scenarios of what could happen to Mia, that would be playing in mind on the way to the hospital. On top of that, I would have to fork out a huge portion of my part-time tuition job for her medical bills. That was a challenge that would constantly take place on a monthly basis. Some of the most unforgettable memories were to watch my own dog come out of her skin conditions and heal with these natural pet treats. The heartwarming feedback that I have received from customers which have seen tremendous changes in their dog’s hair fall, hair growth and in terms of improving their pet’s appetite by including these treats into their meals has been amazing.
In the long run, what is the vision for Treats Pawpin?
Treats Pawpin is not just a business, it resulted from love and passion. It’s a start-up business that resulted in a dog owner’s love and passion in ensuring that my pet and other pet owners facing the same issues do not go through the same struggles, challenges and tears that I had been through for years. After all, “dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” and we want the best for our pets.
Lastly, how do you stay true to yourself and what’s your definition of success?
The one thing that I have held onto for a while now is, ‘Choose your attitude in adversity’. In just a snap of a finger, we can all become different with just a change of attitude. When I take control of my attitude, I will be able to better understand and comprehend what is around me, which will allow me to move forward and grow myself. In times of despair especially during the MCO period, I could have either let it break me and been down for the whole period, or let it push me to create something out of the ordinary which was Treats Pawpin. If I could define success in a few words it would be, achieving the goals that I have set for myself. One of my favourite definitions I’ve heard is by Earl Nightingale who said, ‘Success is really nothing more than the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. This means that any person who knows what they are doing and where they are going is a success. Any person with a goal towards which they are working is a successful person.’