Healthy living and whole food nutrition are popular topics, particularly in a town like Telluride, where most people recognize that all-natural, small-batch, minimally processed foods are better for both the planet and the body. A diet of vegetables, fruits and all-natural chicken, fish and beef sounds like a recipe for health, and Marney Prince, founder of Side by Side, a new emporium on West Colorado Ave., agrees — these are the ingredients she uses in all of her products. However, her clientele walks on four legs rather than two.
As a former veterinary technician and long-time animal lover, Prince believed there was a void in proper pet nutrition.
“We have known for a long time that kibble is not honoring a dog’s body,” Prince said. This concern led her to start her own, initially small-scale, pet food production facility and store.
Prince founded Side by Side Pet Nutrition, formerly Element Pet, in Mountain Village in 2014. Side by Side is a “holistic pet food store” that exclusively creates natural, whole food products for pets. The company offers freeze-dried and frozen food, treats, supplements and “tail mix” snacks. The local store even offers hemp-infused pain relief products — manufactured by Ridgway’s RxCBD — for cats and dogs.
A former Telluride Venture Accelerator participant, Prince has now expanded Side by Side to national production with help from CEO Carol Bramson, who Prince calls “the brains of the company.”
Bramson, an investor of 30 years, was introduced to Prince two years ago while vacationing in Telluride. She said she was immediately impressed by Prince’s small-scale, whole-food production company and offered to help Prince expand the brand outside of San Miguel County.
“I thought, ‘We can scale this. We can transform (Side by Side) from regional to the world,’” Bramson said. “Everyone loves their pets like family, but there is limited awareness about what is actually in their food.”
Since Bramson invested in Side by Side over a year ago, the company has moved production from Ridgway to a facility in Wisconsin. A Chicago store will open this summer, and several stores in Boston will carry Side by Side products. Before the expansion, Prince offered her clients nine different products. This year, Side by Side launched its national offerings, including 35 unique recipes.
Other Side by Side offerings have adapted to adjust for large-scale growth. Prince has always valued her one-on-one consultations with owners about nutrition to personalize their pet’s dietary plan, for example. Now, clients can complete a detailed online assessment to receive diet and serving recommendations.
Still, many aspects of Side by Side remain unchanged. All of the the photos on the products are of friends and family with their pets. To Prince, Telluride will always be an essential piece of her company’s identity, which is why she is so excited about the opening of her new Telluride store. “We feel like this is home,” she said.
Though Side by Side now has national offerings, Prince strives to maintain the values she held when she started her company. Environmental sustainability is one challenge facing a larger-scale company. When Prince was a regional supplier, she exclusively sold patties made with local ingredients and compostable packaging. Now, in order to comply with USDA regulations, her products require plastic packaging to seal and preserve each portion.
“My business went from having (essentially) no carbon footprint to having a national footprint,” Prince said. Still, environmental sustainability is a priority to Prince; she said she continues to investigate possibilities for better packaging options. Judging by the number of canines and humans at Side by Side’s grand opening on Monday, Telluride seems happy to welcome Prince to town. Both Prince and Bramson are excited to be here, and to see how Side by Side will grow in the future.
“It’s the year for fur off of clothes, and for women in business,” Prince said.