Here at Pooch Portrait Studio, we are going to start a monthly post about a product that we use and love! This month, we are featuring the subscription box, Real Dog Box. Right now, we get all three options they have to offer: a Chew Box + a Treat Box + a Super Chew! We chatted with the owner and creator of the Real Dog box, Ruby Balaram, and our interview is below!!!
How'd you come up with the idea to start the Real Dog Box?
The story goes back to 2012. I was still working at a law firm in Washington, DC and my partner, Turk, had recently launched a company called Level Up Meals here in San Diego. It is a fresh food delivery service ~ I'd recently started following the paleo diet and was obsessed with the concept of eating clean foods. That year, Turk's family dog, a then-12 year old doberman named Atum who had survived testicular cancer previously, was suspected to have gotten another form of cancer. His health was rapidly declining in his older years, but we weren't ready to give up on him. We learned about a fresh raw food diet and immediately transitioned him from his lifelong diet of kibble and home cooked food to a raw diet. I saw the transformation before my own eyes of a once grumpy, low-energy senior pup to a new dog full of life and an insatiable excitement for eating real food. I hadn't personally grown up with a dog, so the idea of feeding such a highly-processed diet to a (four-legged) family member was confusing to me. I had learned that a fresh food diet was just as beneficial to dogs as it was to humans and was dumbfounded by the deceptive marketing campaigns that were legally allowed in the dog food industry. It was then that we set out to start delivering fresh food to dogs because we knew that we could make something better -- and we could empower dog owners to take their dog's health and nutrition into their own hands! Both Turk and I left our careers in Washington, DC to realize our new idea. We launched with air-dried treats and chews because we knew that it would be a great way to help dog owners transition from processed food to real food!
How many dogs do you personally have, what types and where'd you get them?
I've got 1 dog (and I think that's enough for now)! He is a 4 year old Anatolian Shepherd named Aykan (pronounced icon), a Turkish name that means someone from a noble, trustworthy family. We adopted him from another couple that originally purchased him from a breeder in North Carolina. He comes from a line of working dogs, bred to protect livestock. Although we have given him no official flock to guard, we respect his breed and honor his need to work! Aykan also serves as the CTO (Chief Tasting Officer) of Real Dog Box.
What is the hardest part about owning your small business?
It's difficult to choose just one thing! I love people management, but there comes a point when you realize some people aren't going to grow with you, despite how they once helped to get you into the stage you're in. It's also not easy starting a business in America when you don't have rich family or friends - banks don't believe in our ideas and we often have to choose between our health and our business.
What is one thing you really want people who subscribe to understand?
We're the only dog food company with a dog nutrition specialist you can reach by text at any time of the day. You can ask us anything.
What inspired you to become a badass girl boss?
Honestly, I was working far too hard for someone else's benefit. It was time to work on a project where I could truly make a difference in someone's life - not just the members we serve, but our internal team as well. Team Real is our family.
Where do you get your new product ideas from? ie how do you pick which meat etc?
Mostly trial and error. I've learned to make friends with butchers, ranchers and farmers, and how to ask a lot of questions! Every item on our menu is chosen for its nutritional benefits as well as digestibility. We have a few new products in the pipeline which are developed as solutions for many dog health issues that many don't realize are food-related, like itchy ears and paws - which are often signs of a food intolerance!