When Diane Dau moved from Minneapolis to Taos 9 years ago she immediately thought about starting her own business.
Originally published in Taos News
“But I waited several years because I needed to know the area first,” she said. “The first rule in business is identifying a need so you can fill it.”
She noticed that something was missing in Taos.
“I felt there was a market for natural, quality pet products delivered to people’s home or business,” she said.
Having used that service before, Dau researched different companies for about 6 months until she found Nature’s Select, a California-based company that sells all-natural, holistic food for pets.
She decided to become a distributor and started the business in September 2008.
“I like Nature’s Select because they only use domestic raised and produced whole meats, whole ground brown rice, and natural preservatives,” said Dau. “No corn, wheat, soy, chemical preservatives, dyes or fillers. They also offered the best product at the best price and good support for their distributors.”
Dau’s company delivers twice a week, free of charge, throughout the enchanted circle, as far south as Dixon and as far north as El Rito.
The driver is Ray Romero, who travels with Cinnamon, his small recue dog.
“My customers already know Cinnamon and most dogs love her,” he said.
Romero takes the food inside and places it where his customers want.
“It’s a great help if you can’t lift a thirty-pound bag,” Dau said.
Food and treats
Dau currently sells dry and canned food for cats and dogs, which constitutes the bulk of her business.
“I also have treats, probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, wild salmon oil, beef gravy for arthritis and a natural product for tooth tartar and bad breath,” she said.
Her most popular product is Nature’s Select chicken and rice with glucosamine dry dog food.
“So many dogs are older and there are large breed dogs that have a propensity to get arthritis,” she said. “The glucosamine helps them regain flexibility.”
She also sells Premium Extruded Horse Feed that can also be used for goats.
There are three things that make her business unique, Dau said.
“First, we are the only business in this area that delivers pet products at no charge —we do not have a retail location. Second, we carry nothing that contains corn, wheat or soy, which are common fillers and allergens. And third, we do not sell any products from China or with made-in-China ingredients that are the cause of many of the recalls in pet products.”
Nature’s Selects receives the FDA recall list.
“That means that we can e-mail that information to our customers when we are advised of something of importance,” she said. “When the FDA sent out a warning several years ago concerning the chicken jerky treats made in China, our customers were aware immediately. Other stores in town continued to sell them until they were finally put on the recall list, since the FDA is slow to move.”
The most challenging part of owning a business like this one is projecting what sales will be.
“I order the food every two months to keep the shipping costs as low as possible,” Dau said. “I have to pay for all products before I receive them, so don’t want to order too much, but I want to have enough inventory so I don’t run out. It’s a difficult balance.”
However, she has already built a loyal client base of around 200 customers.
The most rewarding part of her business is dealing with her clients and their pets.
“People who take care of and love their pets tend to be pretty cool people,” she said. “I’m an animal lover and my pets are my family, so I enjoy meeting the animals that benefit from the healthy products we provide.”
Dau feeds feral dogs and gives free and discounted food to rescue groups in the area.
“I also keep my prices low for natural products, so more people can afford to give their pets a healthy diet,” she said.
Educating the customer
Dau started her business in order to make it convenient for people to buy quality pet food at an affordable price.
“I didn’t expect to get rich, just make a decent living, which is what has happened,” she said. “A lot of what I do is educating people on the current state of available pet food. Most people don’t realize that many of the major brands of pet food have been bought up by huge corporations and they care only about their bottom line. The food is full of harmful additives, sugar, chemicals and by-products, as well as ingredients from China that they purchase in bulk. They spend a lot of money on advertisements telling you how great the food is and the average person believes it.”
Purchasing a quality food will cost you the same, or even less, in the long run, she said.
“Since there are no fillers, you feed your pets less, your vet bills are lower and your pet’s quality of life increases,” Dau said. “Isn’t that what we all want?”
To order Nature’s Select pet food from Dau or to find out more about the business, call her at 575-751-7374 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.