Sherri Campbell is a self-proclaimed foodie and entrepreneur who enjoys cooking almost as much as she loves dogs. A registered veterinary nurse, she also owns Northside Pet Services and shares her northeast side home with three dogs—terrier mix Charlie and Australian Labradoodles Marley and Lily—and a cat, Skim. She has been experimenting in the kitchen for years, making dog treats. Her four-legged family and her petsitting charges started benefiting when dozens of animals died across the country after eating toxic pet food.
“As a consumer, I started getting nervous,”
Campbell, said. Since she likes to leave treats for clients at the end of a pet-sitting or dog-walking visit, Campbell started making her own. She ventured into frozen treat territory because her dogs love chewing ice cubes, which Campbell knows isn’t good for their teeth. Her solution: premium popsicles (sans stick) shaped like paws and bones. Available in five flavors—pumpkin, blueberry, peanut butter banana, chicken and Sloppy Joe—Charlie’s Chillers are made with human-grade ingredients, gluten free and organic whenever possible.
“We love our pets like family,” Campbell said
“They deserve the same high-quality food we do.”
Campbell was refining her recipes and contemplating the new business when she came across the Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, sponsored by food-business incubator Indy’s Kitchen and Reliable Water Services.
She was one of about 60 aspiring entrepreneurs who entered the contest. The three finalists had a cook-off on June 19, 2012 at Indy’s Kitchen, which rents space in its Central Avenue facility to food businesses of all kinds. The judging included taste testing (by humans), which made Campbell sure she’d be the underdog.
“I was happily surprised [to win], let’s put it that way,”
she said with a grin.
Most of the mass-produced doggy ice cream Campbell is familiar with is sold in cups-—not exactly easy for canine consumers to handle, given their lack of opposable thumbs. Her treats can simply be handed to the pooch and are soft enough not to harm teeth. The huge popularity of the Chillers inspired Sherri to continue experimenting in the kitchen with a select taste testing crew. She has now developed a line of fine bakery treats for dogs as well, including custom cakes.