Puppychef is a gourmet dog food brand which specializes in handmade dog treats and cakes. The brand is one and a half years old now and was founded by Harjeet Makhija, a former fashion designer.
Her love for dogs and her passion to build a brand for her furry friends got PuppyChef into the picture. She was inspired by her Korean friend and by her culture. In Korea, gourmet homemade treats are made for the pets on special occasions. This inspired Harjeet and she started making some for her own dog, and then eventually this got commercialized. But one unfortunate incident triggered her the most when her own dog got paralyzed because of various deficiencies.
After doing my own share of research, it dawned on me how the pets need handmade gourmet products to fill in for the deficiencies that machine-made products cannot do for.
I cured my dog on my own by giving him exactly what he needed.
How being a NIFT graduate and having worked in the apparel industry, you ended up as a Puppychef?
⤹ It is pure passion, I always wanted to be a designer and pursued my career in it too. But Puppy Chef makes me feel something that I’ve never felt before – placid.. I wake up at 3 am sometimes if something new strikes me and I absolutely love it.
You have had your share of PR features, what was the pinch-me moment of your career?
⤹ PR features were nice but if we are to talk about my pinch-me moment it has to be the PET FED’17. I was so skeptical about the stall, how people will react and all of that. But on the very first day, it was all sold out, people were loving it. On top of that, the ones who did not believe in me when I was in fashion were at my stall, buying the products. They recognized me and that was probably the pinch-me moment for me.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
⤹ Transparency and the fact that my aim is not minting money out of this brand, obviously I need funds to be up and running but the actual reason for Puppy Chef’s existence is to spread love and provide nutrition through my products. I am always happy to share the ingredients and that has been appreciated too.
Have you ever had a 911 situation in your kitchen, if yes then what?
⤹ All the time! I am baking, things are falling and the dogs are licking! It gets pretty 911 in my kitchen. But there was this time, it was my first cake order, I was totally panicking and finally, after many attempts the cake was ready but we were lagging behind. I went to get my camera to click pictures of my first dog cake, and by the time I was back, my dog had gobbled up the ENTIRE cake. I cried for a minute, then laughed for two and obviously started the entire process again.
Name any 3 kitchen essentials for your brand?
⤹ 1. Dehydrator
3. Deep freezer
How do you manage nationwide delivery?
⤹ Nationwide delivery is certainly costly, but my clients are ready to pay that amount of money so I started doing it. Bakery bit is a little tricky but the treats if packed in dry ice in thermacol boxes, reaches fresh.
Who does the food tasting for you?
⤹ I always try it out with different breeds, dogs of different sizes and the strays too that live outside my house ( obviously they eat anything ). Whenever I launch a new product I send a goodie bag to my neighborhood clients and ask for a feedback from them as well.
How do you plan to scale your business?
⤹ I want to have a big huge pet cafe. I want to have a dog pool, where the owners can chill and the dogs can enjoy. I want to have a dog retreat resort, near a highway or something like that.
Advice to budding entrepreneurs:
⤹ It is not easy, but totally worth it.
Go for it!