Dog lover Sarah Latham has turned her side gig into a successful online dog treat business – after being made redundant during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 40-year-old, of Bradeley, Stoke-on-Trent, lost her office job in May as a result of the crisis, but since then she has been ploughing her efforts into launching Friends & Canines.
After undertaking a canine nutrition course in her spare time and researching natural dog treats free from chemicals and additives such as sugars and preservatives, Sarah started the business in September 2019, supplying treats which were appealing to dogs and free from ‘nasties.’
The venture started life as a Facebook ‘hobby’ but it quickly amassed a dedicated following of pet owners and Sarah started to expand her range of treats.
So when her temporary contract came to an abrupt end, Sarah decided to turn her fledgling business into a full-time job – to help her survive financially and continue to care for her six rescue dogs.
Sarah said: “Within a matter of weeks I was jobless, in floods of tears and worrying about my financial future. How would I pay the bills? How would I feed my dogs?
“But after hours of disbelief and shock, I came to the realisation that now was the time to build on my fledgling business and turn a negative situation into a positive one.
“With the love and support of my Facebook community and a little help from a mentor, I was able to create my own website within a matter of days.
“It was hard work mentally, and my savings took a bit of a hit as I started to get things up and running, but after just 21 days the Friends & Canines website was live and ready to welcome new customers.
“I was enjoying learning the digital ropes as I went, and promoting my online shop to both local and national customers.”
Now Friends & Canines offers a wide variety of tempting treats for even the fussiest of dogs – from air-dried chicken feet and duck necks to fish twirls and braided bull pizzles.
Doggy treat subscription boxes are also available via the website, ready to be shipped out to customers across the UK.
The website also contains self-authored and guest blogs offering advice to dog owners on a variety of topics including socialisation tips, expert advice from qualified behaviourists and stress-busting ideas for anxious canines.
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Sarah – a qualified canine nutritionist – said: “I honestly cannot tell you how incredible it felt to receive my first online order after just a few days and since then, I’ve never looked back.
“I can’t help but feel a little bit proud of myself for how far I’ve come from the blubbering wreck that once sat in a company car park mourning the loss of a job that I hated.”
She added: “The feedback I’ve received from my customers has been incredible, and I’ve loved making Covid-safe deliveries throughout the city and beyond.
“If anyone else is struggling with the prospect of redundancy or job loss, I want them to take inspiration from my story and just go for it – you really can turn your dreams into a reality.”
To find out more about Friends & Canines, visit friendsandcanines.co.uk.