Carrie Sarabella grew up in New York City and loved the larger than life displays in the Saks 5th Avenue windows – her favorite store. So when Carrie, who shows regularly at the Winter Equestrian Festival, stumbled across the idea of novelty dog, and later horse treats, it took no time to come up with a name – Snaks 5th Avenchew was launched.
Honing recipes for her dog who had food allergies, turned into producing treats that emulated human food as well as show ribbons, birthday cakes and unicorns, to name just a few items. She took them to the barn to share with the horse show dogs and when her horse reached out to join in one day, a lightbulb went on. “Why shouldn’t a horse have pizza?” she said. “It clicked at that moment. Why aren’t there tacos for horses? Why are there not treats that look this cute for horses?”
The gap in the market that she had identified spiraled as the Snaks 5th Avenchew treats became an Instagram sensation – now amounting to some 58,000 followers. They have also been given out as gifts, especially to the leadline class, at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“I owe everything to the equestrian community because they welcomed it and they were completely just as excited as I was,” Carrie, 39, said. “I was hoping that in this traditional treat world, the idea would be accepted and it was – I owe everything to them.”
After Carrie launched the brand, in 2014, she received a cease-and-desist letter from Saks 5th Avenue, which contended it was a copyright infringement.
Her attorney successfully argued so-called fair-use law, which “recognizes that parody marks cause no harm to the established mark”. He also cited pet perfume brand Tommy Holedigger and fluffy toys maker Chewy Vuiton, who had also survived opposition to their products.
“The horse community was hugely supportive of me at that time,” said Carrie, who has built her foundation on an Instagram word-of-mouth marketing campaign that has spread through the showground of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“It was cheaper for me to spend money on the people that would be invested in the company,” she said. “So, I started sending them out to people who had horses like myself and I’d say try it, if you like it, post it.”
The ‘Snaks’ selfie of horses enjoying their treats became an Instagram sensation.
“People were very happy to post them,” said Carrie. “And the Snaks are not just for horses. Going back to ‘Saks’ windows – the packages make sure that whoever’s buying it is just as excited about picking out the treats as the horses are eating them.”
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