Meet Melissa Devereaux, founder of Laila and Me

If, like me, you’re openly obsessed with your dog, you know how important it is for our fur babies to be healthy, happy, and well-nourished.

As a dedicated (perhaps too dedicated) paw-rent, I want to know that I’m acting in the best interests of my precious pooch, including the ingredients that go into her food and treats.

It was a rude awakening for Melissa Devereaux, founder of Laila and Me, to discover that Australia’s pet food and treat industry is woefully underregulated. Given our high standards for human food and drug safety, she had always assumed that this would also apply to our four-legged friends.

Laila and Me began when Devereaux’s French bulldog, Laila, experienced health issues and allergies.

“The tests began, and we started with a food elimination diet,” Devereaux said.

“But this was tough – I still wanted to give her the occasional treat.”

After a few trips to various pet stores and reading the ingredients list of popular dog treat brands, Devereaux was appalled at the market’s lack of regulation and high-quality products.

Now, she is on a mission to change the pet food industry, one dog treat at a time.

How Laila and Me went from a hobby to a large-scale business

Devereaux quickly found that there were no existing dog treats on the market that she would feel comfortable feeding Laila.

“I couldn’t, and still cannot believe that the pet treat and pet food industry in Australia is completely unregulated,” she said.

“Imagine your supermarket meal was made with out-of-date chicken in a 40-degree warehouse, dropped on the floor then, scooped up in un-gloved hands, then shoved in a container and sent off to you to eat… luckily, this would never happen in Australia.”

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As a dedicated dog owner and savvy consumer, Devereaux realised the potential in this huge market gap. She started making her own treats for Laila from her home kitchen, then sharing them with friends and family members and selling her treats at a few market stalls.

The word spread quickly, and Devereaux knew there was a fierce demand for natural, quality dog treats with locally sourced ingredients.

“I focused heavily on building my social media presence, especially Instagram, which grew from a few hundred followers to the 43,000 followers we have today,” she said.

“As the brand started to gain recognition and rapidly grow, we have scaled the business and expanded, opening our second factory in 2021 and bringing manufacturing in-house.”

“Three years later, my hobby had turned into a business that led me to leave my full-time job as National Events Manager at Bunnings,” she said.

Business is booming, and Devereaux now heads a large-scale production manufacturing out of two warehouses in Melbourne and Regional Victoria.

With so few options available for pet products made with regulated, quality, locally sourced ingredients, Devereaux now faces the challenges of further expansion to continue meeting the growing demand.