I grew up in Kent, the Garden of England with a dog, a cat, three brothers and two hardworking parents.
My parents owned a Butchers Shop and we lived in the house next-door. My parents loved their garden and they loved to cook. In many ways my family was ahead of the times, every evening after school I would be dispatched first to the garden to pick vegetables and herbs and then to my Dad in the shop, to find out what he had set aside for dinner. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but as I got older, I realised that our good health was connected to my parents ability to prepare, delicious healthy meals.
Every weekend we would visit my grandparents on their beautiful mixed farm in Sussex. My Grandma bred poodles, kept hens, loved to bake and had a natural remedy for everything. It was through her that I developed an interest in medicinal herbs and the health promoting properties of meat, vegetables, fruit and herbs, studying them whilst helping her to cook. My Grandad’s great love was his dogs, he bred working spaniels and performed the duties of game-keeper for a local estate. I learnt so much about dog behaviour and training from him.
My Dad grew up on the farm, and spent summers working with his Grandfather. My Great-Grandfather was an accomplished heavy horseman and knew everything there was to know about the land and the animals. My Dad trained as a Butcher in the local village, and after qualifying he moved on to a larger company managing multiple shops before buying his own butchers shop, and all before I was born. Dad was a Master Butcher for 75 years. Two of my three brothers continue the family tradition today.
My childhood was spent riding horses, playing on the farm, working in the shop and learning everything there was to learn about animals, especially dogs. Most people really love dogs, but for me dogs have always been a borderline unhealthy obsession. When I was born my family had a collie, and by the time I was nine I had my first dog, a spaniel called Bess. My parents instilled in me that having my own dog was a huge responsibility…it was not enough to just walk her, it meant I had to do everything for her. Preparing her food, health care, grooming, minor first aid, training, walking, well-being, etc.
One thing was constant during my childhood; the way we fed our animals, and more especially the way we fed our dogs and cats. My family believed that all animals deserved to be fed a natural diet and this uncompromising standard was passed down through the generations. However, it was my Grandad’s passion for his dogs that saw the creation of actual recipes; recipes that took my Grandma’s expert knowledge of medicinal herbs, and his of dogs, to create recipes specific to the needs of Grandad’s spaniels, and the poodles of course. I loved being with my Grandad, because I loved spending time with the dogs. As my interest grew, Grandad must have seen something in me, as he would spend hours explaining the intricacies of why, who, what, when, and where.
When it became time for me to go to college, I knew that my studies had to include animals and animal nutrition. Once I qualified, two new pups joined our family and I became a member of a dog training school. I learnt formal obedience and began entering competitions. I loved training and two more pups quickly followed and training increased to include agility and working trials. After several years I qualified as a trainer and a behaviourist and surrounded myself with dogs and dog people.
Because a natural diet was so normal to me, I was shocked to see first hand the true impact of conventional dog food. I learned that most pet food is made in rendering plants – factories that harvest the remnants of animal parts. These bits and pieces are combined with additives like yellow food dye and artificial flavourings to create pet food labelled with the words, ‘made from real chicken’ but containing no real food nutrition at all.
My dog friends also noticed the difference in my dogs when compared to theirs, and soon asked me what I was doing different to them. Asking me to create my food for them quickly followed. Soon every weekend was spent in my kitchen, as I struggled to make enough food for the ever growing demand from my friends and their friends.
That’s when LUNA & me delicious dinners were born. In 2015, I rented my first premises in a tiny converted milking shed, a friend helped me build a website, my husband helped me to become DEFRA registered, get a legal structure and open bank accounts, I had a little company on my hands.
I named it LUNA & me Dog & Cat Kitchen. ‘LUNA’ after my dog ‘& me’ to demonstrate we are a family business, run by real people and as a reference to some of the shady things that happen in the conventional pet food industry. ‘Kitchen’ emphasised that my product was really and truly food that I would eat myself.
I had long chats with potential customers, who agreed to try my food, and to my delight, the website almost immediately sold out of our first production of LUNA & me dinners. It turned out that I wasn’t the only person who was obsessed with their dogs.
Today, LUNA & me remains a family-owned company, run by foodies with a true passion for pets. Every year we produce tonnes of dog & cat food and treats, all of it natural, made only from locally sourced whole food ingredients. Our DEFRA registration confirms that we comply with strict regulations, and our All About Dog Food verification confirms that we’re the first and only UK pet food manufacturer to be awarded 5/5 for every product we make.