Forever Shameless

"I don't believe in failure!" 

There's a movement going on in the pet community: part of it is pet parents realizing the importance of a high quality and balanced diet. The second part is even newer and only adds to this phenomenon. 

What is this new addition?

It's a term called upcycling. And while I won't go into detail here (that's what the interview is for), I will tell you that it is changing the way we look at food for ourselves and our furry family members. 

The pet food industry is seriously evolving. Our guest for this interview is at the forefront. They are learning as they go, and making waves in the thought process that goes into pet treats. 

My boys have had the pleasure of trying two bags of their treats, and there was nothing for me to feel shameful about when passing them out. 

 This first full week of November, we introduce: Shameless Pets 

What’s the meaning behind the company name? 

  • Shameless Pets was born out of the love of our furry friends having absolutely no shame and just loving them for it! How many times has your pup done something that makes you just shake your head, laugh, and all you can do is truly enjoy them just being them? Even if they eat something that causes you to question whether you will, indeed, ever accept a kiss from that mouth again. Let’s re-frame the shame and celebrate that!

Absolutely! Honestly, my boys inspire me everyday, because I've learned from them to just be the weirdo that I am, and don't worry about anything else. 

How did this journey of pet treats start? 
  • Hmm…..this is a tough question to answer! I would say it’s been quite a long journey to get to where we currently are with Shameless Pets. For me personally, I’ve always had a deep love and close relationship with my pets so they’ve always been meaningful in my life. Educationally, I’m a nutritionist and food scientist. I develop food products for a living! I’ve developed and launched over 35 SKUs in my career, but all were “human food” until SP. I combined my love of dogs and food all into one for SP, but I didn’t do it alone. SP was founded by a team of 4 – me (Alex), Melissa, Mike, and James. All of us have various backgrounds that have all been integral to getting SP off the ground. I just think my job is the most fun

A background in food and nutrition. That makes so much sense, because when we received our treats, the first thing I noticed was how few ingredients there were! Bonus: I could understand what every ingredient was! I can imagine that working so closely with food for yourself and family, it was really an easy decision to do the same for your pets. 

Some of our readers might not know what upcycling is, can you give some insight? 
  • Upcycling is the process of creating value out of something that would have otherwise been considered of little or no value. In the case of our dog treats, we work with farmers and processors to take their odds & ends, bits & pieces, “uglies”, etc. and transform them into superfood boosted treats your pets love and you feel good about giving them.

I've never understood the "perfection" requirements that go into the selling of food. Crops take the same amount of time and energy to grow regardless of what they end up looking like physically. No nutrition or edibility is lost, they just don't look like the "filtered" image we've been conditioned to expect. Don't even get me started on the food waste. 

What made you think to do it with pet treats? 
  • Upcycling is an important part to making sustainable changes in the food system. I’ve seen upcycling brands in the “human food” start to pop up in the past couple of years and I’ve always been really excited about it. We thought it was time that our pups do their part!

So true! They may not know the difference, but we can certainly see it in their everyday activity! 

Where do you source your ingredients? And why are limited ingredient treats important? 
  • Our upcycled ingredients come from various parts of the US, but we work most closely with processors on the East Coast. It’s important to limit your pup’s diet to minimize concerns with allergens. A lot of dogs have sensitivities to food (like us!) that can cause a variety of symptoms that are unpleasant for them and difficult to treat. It’s amazing how paying close attention to your pet’s diet has such a significant impact on their health and well-being….really no different than us humans!
      We've been lucky so far, that Bode and Zeke don't suffer from any allergies. That doesn't mean they couldn't develop later though! Our angel, Hershey had severe allergies and weight problems throughout her life (started about the time she turned seven). She was sixty-five pounds, and suffered from several hot spots near her rear (where she also had the cutest butt swirls: just like Bodie has!). We changed her diet, and her weight went down to a healthy fifty pounds, and she didn't wake us up shaking the whole bed during a never-ending itch fest. Another positive reaction to a healthy diet? She ran the grass down to dirt in the backyard up until the age of fifteen!

 Give us the facts:
  • How much food is wasted each year, just because it isn’t “pretty” enough? 
    • Literally billions of pounds of food gets wasted worldwide every year at various parts of the supply chain – farms, processors, transportation, retailers, and us consumers. At each level, there’s various reasons why this would occur. On the positive side, there’s so many people in various aspects of the food industry working toward creating solutions. We’re just happy to be a part of it!
Wow! That is a lot of unnecessary waste! Imagine how many mouths that could feed. 
  • How many bags of treats would you estimate are produced by Shameless Pet, a year? 
    • We’re just at the beginning of our operations, so I’m not sure I can answer that accurately quite yet. I’d say in the past 6 months, we’ve produced probably close to 50,000 bags.
That's A LOT of happy bellies and wagging tails!
  • Pick a flavor: Bluberried Treasure for example: How many blueberries are used in each bag to make the treats? 
    • I really have no idea! One of our brand promises is to make our products contain 20% or more of upcycled ingredients. I can say we have some ideas in the works to make that number even higher!
  • On average, what seems to be the favorite flavor among customers? 
    • I would say Lobster Rollover is an eye catcher for people. They can’t believe their dogs get the luxury of eating lobster. The truth is, a significant portion of lobster gets wasted unnecessarily, so we take those yummy bits and infuse them into our treats.
You recently attended a distributor show. How did it go?! And what were you there to do?
  • Yes, we did! It went well! We are opening a couple of distribution centers (DCs) and launching in retail very soon, so we are there to connect with retailers and show everyone out brand!

We take part in the convention scene too! Different industry, (art and comics) but we always have so much fun! It's inspiring to meet others working as hard as you towards a common goal. Every time we finish a show, we are pumped to create more media. It's an added bonus
when you walk away knowing that you also inspired someone else. 

You’re a woman owned business: Why is that important to you? 
  • Having always been called an outspoken person (since I was a kid!), I’ve really struggled with the dichotomy of desiring to “fit in/be liked by everyone,” but also just really wanting to be my authentic self and not feel ashamed about it (like our Shameless Pets– ha!). I think that’s something a lot of us ladies really struggle with, especially in a business setting. Shameless Pets is a blossoming of living authentically for me; for being a “boss lady,” owning my capabilities, and being damn proud of it! Am I right, ladies?!
What advice would you give any young woman wanting to launch her own business?

    • I think one of the most important qualities of any entrepreneur is the undying belief in oneself, that you are absolutely capable of achieving what it is you want to achieve. Let me be clear, this does not mean you need to be a know it all or “perfect.” Be humble and ask for help along the way. Take the time to truly get to know yourself; learn your strengths, learn where you might not be particularly skilled, and build a tribe around you to fill in those gaps and be your cheerleader when you need it. Trust me, we ALL need it. And not matter what – JUST KEEP GOING. My mom always tell me when I start to get impatient or be hard on myself, “Alex, Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Thanks, mom….you’re totally right.

Also: Tell us about yourself!

    • Overall, I’m just a big nerd! I’m a millennial dog mom from Northern California, but living in Boston in the past two years. I’ve worked in the food industry for almost 10 years now and I love so many things about it. I spend my free time being active – gym, biking, hiking…and if I can involve my pup, it makes me extremely happy! I love challenging myself, trying new things, and traveling to new places. I have friends, family, and an amazing boyfriend that have been my support group through this entrepreneurial journey….I’m a lucky and grateful lady!
Tell us about your shop mascot!

  • Madison is my little Yorkie girl and inspiration for all our original recipes. Madison is almost 7 years old and has been my bestie since I got her at 8 weeks old, when I was in grad school. She is quite literally my pride and joy! She’s spunky, independent, curious, incredibly smart, and I love her to pieces. I truly believe she is one of the best thing that’s ever happened to me!
Which flavor is her favorite? 
      • This girl will quite literally eat anything! (see next question)
    • How has she influenced the treats? 
      • I can honestly say that Madison is the true inspiration for the brand. I was walking her around Fenway park one summer day (we live in Boston), and that girl does everything in her power to eat every goodie she finds on the ground, whether I like it or not! It got me thinking, who better than to tackle our food waste problem than our furry friends. To be clear, we use safe, high quality ingredients in our products from pre-consumer sources (farms & processors) and not post-consumer waste (stuff you find in the trash).
    • If she could pick a flavor and name it, what would it be? 
      • Love me, but not too much! In true yorkie form, that girl has an independent streak!
Shameless Pet is on Amazon! Any plans to launch in box stores? 

  • Yes! We’ve already launched in a few retailers and will be in more stores very soon, like HEB and Central Market in Texas. You can find an up-to-date store locator on our website!
HEB. Congratulations! We don't have one here, but big box is exciting news!
    • Is there a dream location? 

      • I would say Target is high on our list of dream spots. It would also be cool to see our treats trickle to some international locations.
Can you let our readers know why customer feedback is so important, especially to a small business? 

  • The SP you see today is an evolution of so many people’s thoughts – friends, families, pet health professionals, social media interactions – and as a self-funded start-up, we’re a nimble bunch! For example, after our first round of products, we learned that a lot of pets really like soft-baked treats, so we changed all our formulations to be soft. That way, treats can be easily broken to accommodate tiny mouths, or calorie control, or brittle teeth, etc. And yes, we’re always open to feedback! In order for us to create an impact with our brand, we have to put our best products forward.
Bodie and Zeke are two of those picky puppies! They are always drawn to soft treats over crunchy! 

What’s the process of naming each specific treat? 

  • There are always things like regulations to take into consideration when naming a product. There are things you can and cannot say based on the recipes and being truthful and transparent for consumers, which is extremely important to us. On top of that, we wanted to add a little fun to the mix, which something we consider a core value for our brand.
The creative names definitely drew us in. Especially since I like to consider myself the pun master (of our house). Also, we love that you don't use words that try to confuse the customer. We can feel confident in knowing exactly what we are getting. 

Right now there are five flavors of treats! Any plans for more? Can you give us a tease, or hint at the next product? 

  • Yes, of course! One of our goals is to incorporate more upcycled ingredients into our products, so we’re currently working on that. We also want to start creating short runs of flavors when we get a call from our upcycling partners. Oh, you have a bunch of kale that a farmer couldn’t sell because of one reason or another? Let’s take it and make something great with it!
Hmmm... kale. Is that a hint? (Guess we'll all have to watch their page to find out!) 

You’ve no doubt seen many pet reactions to your treats! Tell us about a few of your favorites!

  • It’s always my favorite when pups sniff the treats in my pocket without having a telltale bag or anything. They just sniff my pockets and try to dig in! There’s one at the dog park who always does it and it always makes me laugh and enjoy the moment knowing I made those treats!

What is something you’d love to accomplish with Shameless Pet? No boundaries! The world is in your fingertips!

  • I’d love to see Shameless make a huge impact on food waste! We’re keeping track so we can have a true understanding of the outcome there. We’re also donating to rescue organizations, so I’m excited to see how that grows. It would be quite a dream to make products that are entirely made from upcycled ingredients!!

Feeling #shameless now?! Well you should! Join the upcycling movement!

Please check out their Instagram page: Shameless Pets

And: stop by out page: Brothers.Goodboy

**Want to be interviewed? DM us!**


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