Now into the interview:
1. Do you currently own any pets, or have any plans to own any in the near future?
Yes I have two wonderful SPCA specials - Coco and Bhindi. My pets are never planned they just happen to find me. I do aspire to being ‘that dog lady on the hill’ - if my property is big enough I’d adopt so many rescue dogs.
2. What made you decide to start your own business? How did you form the idea and how did you
get it off the ground?
Eezapet came from my own need for my chronic allergy sufferer Coco. The vet treatments of steroids were just not working and I was stressed and not being able to help my pet effectively. I could see she was uncomfortable and in pain from constant itchy rashes - there is no joy when you have an itchy pet.
My background was in volunteering with the SPCA for 10 years, so I had experience with a variety of animals coming in that had various skin conditions so I knew the problem was real and a big concern for owners.
The idea for Eezapet came from our people range called Salveez which we started in 2011 - which is used to treat dry, itchy skin conditions. We did further development to make a pet healthcare product which was then launched at the opening of the Wellington SPCA in 2014. Having the need addressed and the SPCA using Eezapet to treat animals in their care allowed us to forge ahead entering this market.
3. Have you always wanted to work with dogs/pets?
I have always had an immense love for dogs. Right from a young age we always had pets - cats and dogs the house was never empty. When I was unable to have my own dog I started volunteering at the SPCA so I could still get my much needed fix. I soon became the relief Canine Carer working with both puppies and dogs and had this role for over 10 years from 2005. I also volunteer when able but with the growth of Eezapet i have taken a short sabbatical - but I will be back as I have a passion for dogs - particularly rescue dogs.
4. What has been the hardest part of starting a pet business?
The hardest part has been getting Eezapet into the retail outlets. Those that see dogs everyday know the need and are early adopters - other retail outlets can be slower on the uptake for a variety of reasons - they require higher margins, will not take on a company with only one product, worried that their other products won’t sell if they bring in a new one. This part has been the learning journey for me.
5. What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting?
My accomplishments have been many. I get so much joy from seeing so many animals being treated naturally and effectively with Eezapet - saving the owners time and money - and saving the dogs health too. Last year we saw a 300% growth and am happy to say that Eezapet is now available in 75+ retail outlets from Whangarei to Invercargill.
6. What has been your biggest regret since starting?
There has not been any regrets. I’m happy in the fact that so many customers who had no effective solution before Eezapet now have a solution.
7. Where do you see Eezapet in the next five to ten years?
We have our business plan laid out. Eezapet will also be available in Australia, Europe, UK, USA, Canada and Asia. We will have expanded our product range and become a leader in the pet healthcare sector.
8. Advice to anyone wanting to start up a small business
Do your homework - research, research, research.
Write your business plan - have your exit strategy - work back from your end goal to achieve the steps to get there.
Have a business partner - this is key for workloads, planning and bouncing ideas off each other.
Learn patience - “slow and steady wins the race” - have the right steps in place and you will reach your goal.
Listen to your customers without them you do not exist