College of Nursing alumni Kia and Daniel Pascal have a holistic approach to health care, and those beliefs are the core of a business they’ve created to keep pets happy and healthy.
The Atlanta couple sells handmade cat toys and gourmet pet treats made with natural ingredients through Dulces de Luna, which they launched in early 2021.
Kia is originally from Marietta, and Daniel was born in New York and grew up in the Carolinas. Kia always knew she wanted to be a nurse and attend a smaller private school in Georgia. She ended up applying only to Mercer because she knew that was where she belonged.
Daniel initially set out to study biomedical engineering and toured colleges throughout the East Coast in search of the best fit for him.
“When I got to Mercer, I instantly fell in love. I loved the small feel. I was like, ‘This feels like home,’” he said.
The two met on Mercer’s Macon campus in 2010 during an event hosted by national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Kia and Daniel noticed each other when she stepped in to help someone who got hurt during a pickup game. They started talking, were dating two months later, and married in 2014.
Kia graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2012. Daniel took a break from his studies to join the Air Force Reserve, began the nursing program upon his return, and completed his degree in 2019.
Kia served as a labor and delivery nurse, outpatient psychiatric nurse, women’s surgery charge nurse and a clinical instructor for the University of North Georgia, while Daniel was a travel and operating room nurse. Wanting a change of pace and setting amid the job demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel became a clinical consultant for medical technology company Becton Dickinson, and Kia took a job as a telephone triage nurse.
By this time, Kia had already started making crochet toys for her cat, Luna, which led to research and experimentation with pet food and treats, she said. Before long, Dulces de Luna launched on Etsy, and the shop quickly became more than a hobby, Daniel said.
The Pascals invested in industrial equipment and began expanding their product offerings. They also started selling products at Georgia festivals and making dog birthday cakes for local clients.
Items for sale from Dulces de Luna include charcuterie boxes for dogs and cats, dog biscuits, dehydrated meats, balm for dry paws, and crochet hats and toys for cats. Some of the best-sellers are the taco cat toy and bacon jam dog treats.
Dulces de Luna products are different from commercial products because they use as many natural ingredients and as few additives as possible, Kia said. For instance, the cat toys contain straight catnip buds and mainly raw cotton as the stuffing. Vitamin E is the only preservative used. For the dog cakes, Kia and Daniel use only one kind of flour and duck eggs from local farmers.
“We’ve practiced natural, homeopathic, herbal medicine in my family for a while,” Kia said. “It’s been an important thing in my life. I wanted to expand that to pets too.”
People need to be aware of what ingredients are in the food and treats they give their pets. It’s important to provide pets with the best foods, so they can have the best life, Daniel said.
“For our pets, if you can do natural treats, natural toys … these things are healthier and help prolong their life,” Daniel said. “We can provide healthy treats with no preservatives. I think that falls back on our approach to medicine as nurses.”
In the future, the Pascals hope to grow their business presence, ship to every state and serve as vendors at more festivals, including out-of-state events. Last year, Dulces de Luna items were sold at two Atlanta-area stores, and the goal is to expand to others. They are also working on creating natural herbal remedies for pets.