Hi, Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business.
Hi, My name is Melissa Devereaux and I am the founder and director of Laila and Me. We manufacture healthy Australian pet treats, and import exclusive canine enrichment toys.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
I come from a big box management retailer background and then moved into marketing and events for the same company. I have always had a love for events and marketing, but the same passion for pets.
I started the business Laila and Me as a side hustle while I was still working full time in a super intense job as a way of distressing and following my passions.
However, I soon realized that I had to quit my dream job and pursue my passion for pets when Laila and Me started to take off. I couldn’t give both of them the love they deserved.
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
I saw a gap in the market for healthy dog treats with no additives or preservatives when my dog Laila started to get severe skin issues and had to go on a food elimination diet.
Being a puppy I still had to train her with treats and didn’t want her to miss out, so I went to the pet shops and supermarkets on the hunt for aussie health products
I was horrified to realize that they were imported from third world countries and highly irradiated and had additives and preservatives like salt, sugar, glycerin, and flavorings.
I knew then I had to air dry my own treats for her and other dogs in the same predicament
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
it was a natural progression of selling through Facebook and Instagram while I was still working full time.
It gained momentum and grew by around 400% each year, slowly I picked up more wholesale customers and international customers by word of mouth
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
I have a high return customer rate, and I have retained this by really offering a service that everyone wants to be apart of. I have a vip facebook group which customers can ask questions, share dog pics and memes as well as be the first to get aussie health products launches and discounts.
I also have a huge social media following (28k followers) so my customers love to share Instagram pics and get reposted on stories and sometimes the feed. I also take the time to engage and show genuine interest in my customer’s dogs.
We also celebrate milestones with events like Insta parties, Laila and Me Christmas parties where customers can bring their dogs for playdates and celebrate with heaps of freebies and doggie playdates.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
Hopefully sustaining the growth rate we have been experiencing as its really really exciting the opportunities that come along with it. We have been lucky enough to work with and collaborate with some amazing Aussie Pet brands.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
I think it’s more than being financially uplifting. It is a plus but I think you need to be personally fulfilled in your career to be truly happy.
In my previous career, I was making a decent wage, but I wasn’t truly fulfilled like owning your own business and truly making a difference in customers and their dog’s lives.
What tools or services did you use?
What I can’t do myself I outsource! so things that I struggle with like Facebook ad conversions, website development, SEO bookkeeping (boring stuff!).
I focus on things like building meaningful networks though my socials, so they come in handy when I need advice and to call in favors later on.
What are your key challenges today? How are you planning to tackle those?
The ever-changing algorithms with social media! just when you think you have got it all worked out.Also, being on step ahead of the trends in the pet industry and canine nutrition
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
I’m forever listening to podcasts a few I love are:
Many times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
I think I overcome this many years ago working in a male-dominated big-box retailer where it was just a boys club. It did take a long time and a lot of balls to fight for a seat at the table.
I know so many girl bosses who have killed it in their business, that’s it’s almost laughable in this day and age that it should only be Men in business!
Not only do I have a seat at the table, but I’m also running the whole dam meeting.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi! This is Misha.
I interview women founders in building profitable businesses??
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell-all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.