Imagine if you ate breakfast cereal your entire life. According to Kaitlyn Wright (Cornell Law School, ‘14), feeding your dog just commercial kibble is very similar. Wright is the founder of La Vie en Raw, a business that sells organic, grass-fed raw dog food in Colorado. She started the business just four months ago and left her position as an attorney to pursue her startup full-time with cousin, Jessica.
Wright was inspired to start her business after realizing dogs deserve more than processed kibble, which often contains excessive sugar, chemicals, and preservatives. Dogs that have allergies or digestive issues are particularly sensitive to the quality of food in their diet. A raw food diet for dogs is good regardless of animals’ pre-existing health. “Feeding raw is something that top dog handlers (working dog breeders, military, police, etc.) have been doing for years to keep their pups in top shape physically and mentally,” Wright explains. La Vie en Raw seeks to make this more commonplace among dog owners by providing organically raised, grass-fed, and steroid-free meat at affordable prices to individual owners, rescues, shelters, the police, and the military.
La Vie en Raw sources all of its food from a farm in Lagrangeville, NY. Wright’s business partner, Jessica, learned about the farm when her rescue dog experienced digestive issues and allergies. After eating raw food from their sourcer, the dog’s digestive issues were resolved. Wright and her cousin have not found a supplier with raw food of the same caliber closer to Colorado and continue supporting a local farm in rural New York.
While it is completely healthy to feed a dog exclusively raw meat, Wright understands not all dog owners are ready to replace their large dog food bags with raw meat, taking up space in refrigerators. She explains, “One of the beauties of our business is that we have something for everyone. For the people who aren’t ready to take the plunge and start feeding a completely raw diet, we sell raw meaty bones (similar to the ones you see at stores like Petsmart, but with actual meat on them), and freeze-dried/dehydrated treats at a fraction of the price of the ones you’d buy at pet/grocery stores.”
Interestingly, feeding dogs exclusively raw meat can translate into savings. “Because of the sugar and other fillers added to commercial food, pets frequently eat much more of this food. When feeding a high quality raw food, like La Vie en Raw, pets often eat fewer pounds of food a month,” Wright says. She hopes to educate pet owners in Colorado about the health and economic benefits of feeding pets raw food. To do this, La Vie en Raw offers a discount to people with rescue animals.
Wright urges Cornell entrepreneurs to follow their passions and stick with their ideas. Most importantly, there are no formal qualifications to be an entrepreneur. “Avoid letting your degree or perceived career path stop you from pursuing an idea that’s outside of the box,” Wright cautions. Both Wright and her business partner did not have careers that involved raw dog food prior to starting La Vie en Raw, but that did not stop them from pursuing a business that has already created lots of happiness for both humans and their furry companions.