Thank you for coming here to learn a little more about us! We’re Kathy and Duncan, the founders of Phoenix Bark.
We started our business in 2019, and since then we’ve been sharing our love of food, nutrition, wellbeing (and dogs, of course) with as many people as possible.
Kathy & Duncan: The Phoenix Bark founders
“We were motivated, inspired and brimming with passion. We took our enthusiasm for home cooking for the dogs in our lives up a notch.”
In 2018, we married under the one of the world’s oldest and largest cedar trees in Kilmacanogue. Kathy was barefoot, with daisies in her hair, and we were joined by a handful of close friends and family.
We couldn’t have imagined back then that we’d be wrapping hundreds of personalised packs of doggo sausages in our kitchen (and falling asleep at 3am), just a few months later!
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The rise of The Phoenix
Phoenix Bark began when we realised there was an opportunity to transform our real passions into a business. One evening, we heard an inspiring radio piece on ‘fresh feeding’. It was emerging in the UK and around the world as an alternative to mass-produced, highly-processed and unhealthy pet food. We knew we had to make this available to dog lovers like us in Ireland.
With that, it was time to be brave and allow our instincts to guide our plans. We knew that something like Phoenix Bark (though we didn’t know its name at the time) could not only give us more freedom and control over our work and the passion behind it, but could also mean we would have space and time for a dog of our own.
Home cooking: Our passion for dog food
Since 2004, Duncan had been home-cooking for his dogs. Why? Put simply, he had an irresistible drive to do what was best for his pets’ health, wellbeing and happiness. Not to mention the fact that what was revealed in his research about pet food products was jaw dropping. Have you ever wondered what’s in your dog’s dinner? We’ll save you the trouble – just know, it’s probably not as nutritious as we believe it should be.
With Kathy’s background in human nutrition, and a shared passion for healthy, high quality food – we were able to work together to adapt and improve eco-friendly dog food recipes to treat our furry friends. We consulted our great, varied audience of critics, and began to seriously test and evolve our recipes. Eventually, we had journeyed from our loving, nutritious, home-cooked meals to precisely formulated, balanced and eventually laboratory tested recipes.
Soon we were able to officially set up Phoenix Bark in Kilkeel and get commercial production underway (although we soon found that we needed a much bigger kitchen thanks to our ethical dog food being so popular!). Now, we’re working from a wonderfully remote area in County Down.
After all this time, it’s quite astonishing for us to reflect on how much our personal passions and decisions have now begun to benefit so many families all over the country. Our recipes have ended up being sold all over Ireland: Derry to Dublin, Belfast to Bray, Wicklow to West Cork and everywhere in-between!
Changing the dog food game, one sausage at a time
We know that sustainably-wrapped pet foods can be hard to come by. Our grain-free recipes include free-range and wild meat and offal, as well as sweet potato and other nutrient-rich vegetables, wild organic blueberries – so, essential vitamins, from whole foods. As animal lovers ourselves, their welfare is at the forefront. and we also make sure we keep our environmental impact in mind by ensuring no packaging waste.
When starting Phoenix Bark, we knew that there was an opportunity to change the ethical dog food game, and we have certainly made some impressive progress over the years. Our ongoing challenge now? To increase awareness around the need for ethically-minded, fresh dog food and encourage guardians to explore and learn about the benefits of fresh feeding, just like we did!
Barbara is our official Head of Quality Control here at Phoenix Bark. Her impeccable taste means our recipes have to be spot on to get her approval!
Barbara came into our lives just before lockdown in spring 2020. Duncan had heard news of an unexpected litter in North Down – and there was one puppy left that needed to be homed. We knew the timing was right, and as soon as we met her, the connection was unmistakable.
Now, Barbara joins us at work every day. She made every day of lockdown so much more fun, and has continued to do so now that the pandemic is more or less behind us. She has brought even more love into our home and we will always be grateful for her.
To our staff in the kitchen in Kilkeel, our exceptional suppliers (DPD, WoolCool, Klee Paper, Get Print Ni) and our wonderful loyal customers, thank you!
Thank you for helping dogs around Ireland thrive. We wouldn’t be doing what we love without you!
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Discover the Phoenix Bark blog
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