Climbing to the altitude of success in business is never an easy process, and the takeoff of Michelle Lamont’s Nixon’s Top Dog Gourmet Co. was especially turbulent.
The inspiration for the all-natural dog treat company was born out of a personal tragedy, when the owner’s two-year-old Labrador mix, Nixon, was hit and killed by a car while Lamont was vacationing.
“I wanted to do something different and to give back something to dogs,” Lamont says, “I don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel, just make it smoother.”
She began doing research and discovered a lucrative market existed for dog treats. She took classes, learning how to bake the all-natural treats, and set about trying to discover what dogs liked best.
“We tried a lot of different recipes on a lot of different dogs,” she says.
At this point Lamont had no experience in her new field, no car and no computer, and no reason to exude much confidence.
“I want people to know that you should always do what you think in your heart, and it will all work out,” she says. “Start with what’s inside, and expand from there.”
After taking a trusty DART bus to file her DBA paperwork and winning a computer in a contest, she began her expansion. She bought a credit card machine, a phone line and an 800 number, and waited for the orders to begin rolling in.
They didn’t come.
After waiting nearly 30 days, Lamont decided to begin her expansion in person, going to every store herself to solicit her treats.
“Nobody can sell your product better than you,” she says.
Before long, she had accounts in numerous small and large retailers, including Whole Foods, Simon David and Canine Commissary.
Nixon’s Top Dog Gourmet dog treats currently are available in 47 locations and will soon be on shelves in every Tom Thumb in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Five percent of all proceeds are donated to charities that benefit man’s best friend, and Nixon’s Top Dog recently helped sponsor a contest for spayed and neutered dogs to have a treat named after them.
Lamont has three dogs: a three-legged German Shepherd named Sangria who was also hit by a car, a Beagle named Jazz – the inspiration for Top Dog’s peanut butter Jazzer-Snaps – and a mutt, Lincoln.
The future looks bright for the still-young company, and her optimism has yet to be tamed.
“I hope to be in all of Texas in a year,” she says, and then continues: “Nixon’s dog treats will be on every shelf in the United States and Europe.”