Simple Pleasures

In the (Doggie) Bag

What: Candy and mints for dogs
Who: Sarah Speare and Lesley Lutyens of Chomp Inc.
Where: Lebanon, New Jersey
When: Started in 1999

When these two sisters decided to go into business together, they knew they wanted to combine their creative skills with their love for dogs. Sarah Speare, a graphic designer, and Lesley Lutyens, a children's clothing designer, finally got the push they needed when they won prize money from a business plan competition sponsored by the Center for Women in Enterprise in Boston and received a loan from their mother.

After raising an additional $2.1 million in capital, they brought in experienced managers and a team of food technologists that eventually created their innovative canine treats: Yip Yaps (bone-shaped mints for eliminating doggy breath) and Sniffers (M&M-like candies made of beef and cheese). The two products hit store shelves in 2001, quickly ringing up sales of $370,000 in just six months. Projections for 2002 are at $2 million.

"Our goal from the get-go [was] to make [these products] as available as human candy," says Lutyens, 39. These days, the line of dog treats is sold in Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco, grocery stores, and in vending machines along with candy for humans. Lutyens and Speare plan to release their next product, Pitter Pats--breath mints for cats--in 2003.

The sisters believed that they could build a successful company with a repeat-purchase product such as food, and it turns out they were right on the money. "They're fantastic products that dogs can't get enough of," says Speare, 45. In fact, the treats are so popular with their canine customers, they've even received chewed-up Yip Yaps tins as testimonials.

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This article was originally published in the September 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Simple Pleasures.

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