When Marie Moody’s dog Chewy was diagnosed with distemper in 1997, at age two, a vet suggested she start feeding him unprocessed foods. To comply, Moody, then a fashion sales rep, began mixing her own pot of meats, fruits and vegetables—the kind of food a dog would eat in the wild. Chewy made a remarkable recovery (he lived to age 16, still on the same diet), and Moody started wondering if her homemade mix could be marketed as healthy dog food. Finally, in 2003, after deciding “I have nothing to lose,” she paid a factory in Wisconsin to manufacture and freeze an initial 1,000-pound batch. (Once shipped to Moody, it took up three industrial freezers in her Manhattan living room.) Then she found out that most stores don’t have freezers for pet food, so she freeze-dried it for shelf display. Now Stella & Chewy’s (named after Moody’s two dogs) is available in 3,000 stores nationwide (go to stellaandchewys.com). Not bad for a business that started in a 4-by-6-foot kitchen.
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