Q&A: Gabby Slome of Ollie

This entrepreneur's meal plan startup is going to the dogs.

High-performers know that a body runs best on a customized diet of fresh, seasonal food—so it's only fitting that the mentality has extended to their beloved dogs. When Gabby Slome adopted Pancho, the kibble she was dishing out was far from healthy. “I realized I could be doing so much better for him by giving him freshly-made food from real ingredients,” says the New York City-based entrepreneur. Fast forward to today, and Slome and her partners helm Ollie, a company which creates customized vet-formulated recipes out of real food, delivered right to your front door. Here, Slome dishes about how she does healthy, why Ollie is so important for your dog’s health, and how she keeps Pancho fit.

How did Ollie come to be?
I started Ollie after rescuing my dog, Pancho, and seeing his health decline from the processed kibble I was initially feeding him. After talking with my vet, though, I realized the difficulties of formulating food to meet all of the nutritional requirements for his essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, finding the time to cook for myself is super hard—how was I going to do that for my dog? My co-founders had similar stories about their pets and we realized there was a big opportunity.

Has our awareness of food quality transferred over to our pets?
One hundred percent. Dogs are part of the family and people want their family to be healthy, too. I wouldn't eat food without knowing what it's made of and don't want my dog eating that way, either. Plus, studies have shown that if you keep your dog at a healthy weight you can add 20 percent to their life expectancy. Who wouldn't want that?

Start-up life is not exactly relaxing. How do you ensure you get your workouts in with such a hectic day-to-day?
When I know my schedule is going to be busier, I make sure I work out first thing in the morning. I don't always love to work out in the a.m., but it assures me that I will actually do it. My routine varies a fair amount based on what I need to do to stay motivated and excited about working out as well as what fits into my unpredictable schedule. No matter what, by taking him for long walks, my dog Pancho ensures I get at least close to my 10,000 steps each day. I generally love being outside, so when the weather is warm I run, bike, and, on the weekends, play tennis or go hiking. When it isn't as nice out, I opt for group fitness classes, which I find way more fun than just getting on a treadmill or trying to do my own routine.

How did you first become interested in health and fitness?
Growing up and into my early twenties, I was an equestrian. So being an athlete, staying fit, and being healthy was super important to allow me to perform at my best, both physically and mentally. For me, riding wasn't just a hobby, it was my life, so it has been hard for me to find balance of being okay with doing it casually. I am somewhat of an all-or-nothing type of person. That being said, I try to still ride occasionally on weekends or when I go to Florida to visit all my friends, who are still equestrians. Every time I do, though, I am reminded of how much strength it takes when I wake up the next day and find it a bit hard to walk.

Is Pancho an athlete, too?
I keep Pancho in shape by taking him on lots of walks, hikes, and running with him along the Hudson River. He loves going on long hikes so I do my best to get out of the city as much as possible so he can get off the leash and run around. When we can't get out of the city, I take him to Central Park on the weekends and let him run around in the mornings. We also go on a long walk when I come home from the office. It’s a great way for us both to unwind. He also comes to the office with me and when there are other dogs there he gets to play all day, which also helps keep him fit.