Early in the pandemic, an increased interest in the pet category emerged. For many who began working from home, it was the ideal time to adopt a kitten or puppy, while for others it sparked a closer connection with the pets they already had at home.
As pet parents spent more time with their furry loved ones, shopping in the pet category continued to rise as people purchased products that met daily needs they were now seeing firsthand, or simply sought to show some extra love. Pet supplies and accessories even landed as a budgeted section of consumers’ holiday shopping plans.
To meet the needs of the evolving category, direct-to-consumer brands have popped up and offer products that are both aesthetically pleasing and of higher quality.
At the same time, designers including Prada, Thom Browne and Versace, among many others, have taken note and now offer a new level of quality and style to the pet market as well. As previously reported by WWD, the global market for pet products, excluding food, is projected to hit $36.89 billion by 2025.
In light of Pet Appreciation Day, WWD asked founders and executives — both working inside and outside of the pet category — what their pet means to them, from being a loyal friend during the start of a company to a business trip companion.
Daniella Pierson, founder and chief executive officer of The Newsette
“My pet poodle Leo (and my new puppy poodle Truffle) mean the world to me as they have provided me such emotional support and happiness during very stressful times in my business. Leo, who is 5, sits next to me every single day while I take every call and meeting, and all I need to do is look at him if I’m having a bad day or am incredibly anxious about something. He is the ultimate cure.
“A lot of people may think that getting a new puppy right in the middle of launching my new company, Wondermind with Selena Gomez and Mandy Teefey, is irresponsible or bad timing, however, I disagree. I am pouring every hour of my life into both Wondermind and The Newsette, and I believe that being able to have a little extra pure happiness is what will keep me going, even when things are tough.”
Marisa Grimshaw, senior vice president of communications and brand partnerships at Rhone
“Lilybug means the world to me! She’s been my constant companion for almost nine years, in addition to being an exercise buddy, an adventure partner and so much more. I refer to her as my ‘soul dog’ because we have such a unique bond.”
Brytanie Killebrew, director of brand marketing at Wild One
“I’ve always been a huge dog lover, so the dog-shaped hole in my heart was pretty big before adopting Roo. At 46 pounds, my sweet scruffy girl was rescued from a kill shelter in the South at only four months old. To me, there’s nothing better than the love of a rescue dog, and Roo is more than I could have ever imagined. I mean, look at that face!”
Lauren Steinberg, founder and global brand marketing director at Queen V
“When I think about what my doodle, Rigatoni, means to me I think of unconditional love. He makes me smile when I need it the most.”
Natalie McGrath, vice president of marketing at Afterpay
“There is no love like the love you get from your furry friend. From the minute I wake up, Marmite absolutely lights up my day. The precious moments, whether it’s the elation of her face while sitting in the window waiting for me to come home to sunset golf cart rides together – she truly is my best friend.”
Olowo-n’djo Tchala, founder and CEO of Alaffia
“In 2015, I adopted Akupa, an off-the-track thoroughbred. He’s a gentle soul, who centers and relaxes me, as well as brings me great joy to see him happy and thriving.”
Tarn Morrison, director of public relations and Partnerships at Tula Skincare
“Rescuing Van has brought the sweetest joy into my life, I’ve lived in NYC for years but having Van by my side makes me feel more at home than ever. He just celebrated his first birthday and I’m the proudest mom in the world!”
Brenda Brock, founder of Farmaesthetics
“My rescue, Willa Jean, is the sweetest, most joyful hound dog a girl could ever ask for. She was rescued from the life of an injured, hungry, junkyard dog, and had to endure multiple hip surgeries for the first year that I had her. She powered through all of it with fortitude and brought such a positive attitude to her recovery. She is my vibrant loyal companion and has truly taught me the restorative power of love and patience.”
Shelley Reinstein, founder and CEO of Autumn Communications
“I didn’t realize I was a dog person until Phoebe came into my life 13 years ago. She has actually become part of me — a limb on my body! We are inseparable, my companion for life. Last year, I fostered Frank — a dog that was found in a garbage in Mexico with a hole through his nose — with the help of the Autumn office, we all nursed him back to health. They are everything that makes me happy in this world. I say no to most plans at night to be with them and my husband. They make my day better every day.”
Wendy Wen, founder of Antelope and CEO of Bocce’s Bakery
“My three pups, Poke, Mochi and Hoku, are everything to me and my inspiration for starting Antelope, a pet wellness platform focused on delivering high-quality, natural pet products and services. I’m always looking for ways to elongate their lives, improve their health, and elevate their quality of life. I adopted my first pup, Poke, right around the time I was creating my first business, and he really got me through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. My favorite thing to do with them is take them on long walks in the afternoon after a day at work (and feed them lots of treats!). They’re my rock and I couldn’t picture life without them.”
Parisa Fowles-Pazdro, Founder and CEO of Maxbone
“Macintosh is one of the most important things in my life. If not the most important. In addition to providing an emotional connection and unconditional love, we learn a lot about compassion from Mac. He is always there to love us regardless of what happens. My main motivation for founding Maxbone is to give him only the best he deserves!”
Dan Schaefer, cofounder and CEO of Native Pet
“I literally quit my job for my dog, Louie. He has been my inspiration and symbol of strength as I chase my entrepreneurial dreams. He came to my family malnourished and our journey nursing him back to health inspired the vision for Native Pet. He needed supplemental nutrition that kibble didn’t provide, and there were no natural and effective products available. I quit my job to make products he would love. Without supplements Louie wouldn’t be as strong as he is today and his strength is my perpetual inspiration.”
Sabeena Ladha, founder and CEO of Deux
“It’s like that TikTok sound — “No I don’t think you understand, I’m obsessed.” Pablo isn’t really a pet to me. He’s my best friend, my boyfriend, my husband, my child, my sibling, my soulmate, all wrapped up into a little chunky, fit body. If the house was burning, I would save Pablo first and my husband Kabir would be second, and honestly we’re all okay with that. He spreads this infectious joy and people are drawn to him in a way I haven’t witnessed with other humans or pets. He is magnetic.”
Jenna Owens, founder of Fitish
“Dogs, especially pugs, bring a much-needed sense of humor to my day. No matter what has transpired, they love you unconditionally and always find a way to make you laugh.”
Lee Applbaum, chief marketing officer at Wheels Up
“Pets are so incredibly rewarding, and like everything great in life, you get out what you put in. Zuri, at 16 months, is still a lot of work, but her love is boundless, and her presence, including flying with us on our Wheels Up fleet, simply makes every moment more joyous and memorable.”
Carolyn Chen, founder of Dandylion