5 Questions with - Dishes for Dogs
Continuing with our partnership with Prism Creative’s Support Local initiative, this week we are featuring Dishes for Dogs. I picked up a bag of their chicken strips at Vice City Bean and they became an instant favorite not only for my dog Stella, but for my (super picky) cat Donut. Read on to find out more about Michael and Ripley, the inspiration behind the brand!
1. When did you make the big decision to start your own business? What inspired you? What scared you?
I started thinking of Dishes For Dogs in mid 2013. We cooked our first small batch of food to be sold on October 22, 2014 to local friends and people in the apartment building I was living in. It wasn’t until September 5, 2015 that we did our first farmer’s market, which is when things really began to pick up. We then opened our Canine Kitchen in Wynwood during November 2016.
It’s kind of the cliche story, but my inspiration was my dog Ripley. When my girlfriend first brought her home, my initial thought (besides that she was super cute) was what we were going to feed her. Combining that concern with some of the health issues she was experiencing (poor coat, gunk in her eyes) and being an extremely picky eater, led me to start home-cooking her meals. There was quick turnaround in Ripley: within a few weeks, her coat significantly improved and then after a few months her eyes got a lot better and she was happily eating her food consistently. I quickly realized how much work and time is involved in cooking for your dog. I felt there were other pet owners with similar issues but not enough time to cook, which was the start to Dishes For Dogs.
What scared me… everything. Starting a business is difficult no matter what you decide to do. But, part of the difficulty with this type of business is that there is no real blueprint to follow. I, fortunately, have an amazing team that’s been assembled along the way including Dr. Shmalberg, our veterinary nutritionist from the University of Florida, and Mason Fox, my business partner and co-owner.
2. What has surprised you most about this process?
I don’t think I was under any illusion on how difficult this venture would be. But one of most difficult pieces was finding an actual location. It was very difficult to find anybody that took me seriously when I told them I was looking for a place to cook and sell dog food. Another obstacle with finding our location was permitting/zoning complications because we don’t exactly fall into a specific category. Also, dealing with the city permits was an extremely long and frustrating process.
3. What do you wish you’d known before starting your business? Any advice for future small business entrepreneurs?
I wish I had known just how many different things I’d have to become an expert in. My advice would be to find a solid team. I really believe that teamwork is critical to success.
4. Where do you go in Miami when you’re looking for inspiration?
To be honest, I rarely go anywhere besides to and from work. But, one of my favorite spots is The Wynwood Yard and specifically Myumi, which nearly brings me to tears each time after dining there because every single aspect of the experience is truly inspiring. It is in some ways the antithesis to what we do at Dishes For Dogs and is always refreshing after cooking 200 lbs of dog food.
5. What local group or business do you look up to?
We are huge fans of Vice City Bean and love the neighborhood culture they have created as well as their delicious brew.
Thanks for sharing Michael! --- follow Dishes For Dogs on InstaGram!