Our story

A tale of unplanned pregnancies, foster dogs and uncommercial decisions by Jonathan Self, Honey’s founder

Our story

A tale of unplanned pregnancies, foster dogs and uncommercial decisions by Jonathan Self, Honey’s founder

What it comes down to is this: Honey’s came into existence because my pigs weren’t practicing safe sex and became pregnant.

Before I knew what was happening, my small holding (no one could seriously call it a proper farm) was knee deep in piglets.

One day after a soccer match with the piglets (they were keen players, but I could never get them to understand the offside rule), I found I had gone right off meat.

This wouldn’t have mattered, except that I was fostering half a dozen dogs and feeding them a natural diet of raw meat and bone.

It didn’t seem fair for my own change of heart to affect their well-being.

So, I searched for an ethical raw dog food company – one that shared my hatred of factory farming – and when I couldn’t find one, decided to launch my own.

 

Not a business

Since my main objective was to feed my dogs the best possible diet, I didn’t really think of what I had started as a business.

Run from a friend’s kitchen, it supplied food to the dogs I was looking after, as well as to a handful of dog lovers who had heard what we were doing.

As we weren’t interested in generating a profit we happily showed anyone who asked us how to make their own raw dog food.

We would also offer advice, tips and recipes and – if they had a poorly dog – we would pay our vet to help them, too.

It is a policy that we still operate now.

In fact, to the best of my knowledge, we are the only dog food producer in the world that actively shows people how NOT to become customers.

We are pretty uncommercial

We are pretty uncommercial in other respects:

  • We visit our producers regularly because we want to ensure that they put the same emphasis on farm animal welfare as we do.
  • The meat we use is always free range, certified organic or wild and suitable for humans to eat. Why? Because it contains the highest possible nutritional value and it is better for the environment.
  • We only buy British (mostly local) ingredients to keep dog food miles to a minimum and our packaging (which, frankly, doesn’t look that great) has the lowest possible environmental impact.
  • We never ‘sell’ to our customers or bombard them with marketing material because we hate pushy companies.
  • We donate to any charity that approaches us, as well as giving 1% of sales to Compassion in World Farming, because we believe in giving back.

Incidentally, if you become a customer you will receive my personal email address so that you can always reach me with comments, suggestions, criticisms or complaints.

 

We love to talk

We feel it is vitally important to know all about our four-legged customers. This is why we always:

  1. Ask for each dog’s name, breed, gender, age, weight, likes and dislikes and level of exercise, as well as about any allergies or health issues.
  2. Discover all about each dog’s life story and personality.
  3. Request a photograph.
  4. Never rush anyone who contacts us… indeed, telephone calls with people new to raw feeding/Honey’s frequently last over an hour.

As a result of this approach:

  • We are able design a personal diet plan for every dog.
  • We can check that a raw diet is suitable (dogs with a compromised immune system, for example, may be better off with cooked food).

We don’t believe in advertising

Honey’s has never gone in for advertising or promotion.

Instead, we have always relied on happy customers and people we have helped to spread the word.

However, in 2010 we did publish Honey’s Natural Feeding Handbook, which has since sold over 50,000 copies (on top of all the copies we have given away for free).

There has been a television documentary based on our work, articles in the newspapers and other books, but it hasn’t changed the sort of company we are.

We are happy being small

The fact is we never want to be anything other than a small, artisan business. We don’t want to put our energy into growing bigger just for the sake of it. What is important to us is being able to:

  • Provide a genuinely personal service.
  • Campaign for causes we believe in.
  • Invest in education and research.
  • Write and publish books.
  • Support not-for-profit organisations.

Incidentally, I have never given up my day job (by trade I am a journalist) to run Honey’s. Instead, it has been managed by more or less the same team for the last decade. In 2019 I took the decision to set up an employee share trust, which will make it more of a partnership arrangement. Our MD, by the way, is my son, Nathaniel.

Please do get in touch

I have tried to paint a picture of the sort of company Honey’s is.

If you have any questions or require extra information, please do to get in touch with me directly.

Thank you.

Jonathan (Self)
Honey’s founder
jonathan@honeysrealdogfood.com

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