Welcome to Podcast Episode 48: Creating a Sustainable Dog Treat Brand with Anne Carlson of Jiminy’s. Have you ever considered that dog treats could change the world? Anne Carlson left the corporate pet industry to start her own sustainably minded brand that uses an unusual protein source that requires far less water and has a smaller carbon footprint than tradition ingredients like beef and chicken. We discuss how she’s managed to get the word out through creative in-store sample placements and by working with micro influencers and a local dog photographer.
If you like this episode, also check out my interviews with Amanda Rose of Holistic Pet Radio and Emily Lagasse of Fedwell Pet Foods.
Creating a Sustainable Dog Treat Brand
Anne Carlson is the Founder and CEO of Jiminy’s a company that’s producing humanely raised, sustainable dog treats using cricket protein. Prior to Jiminy’s, Anne was the VP of Market Intelligence at Del Monte and Big Heart Pet Brands, where she led Shopper Insights, Market Analytics, Competitive Intelligence and Strategic Projects. Now Anne lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband (Eric), daughter (Boothe) and two rescue pups (Derby a Great Dane and Tuco a Labrador mix).
(00:29) Introducing Anne Carlson
(01:40) How Anne came up with the idea of using crickets for treats
(06:32) Where in the world crickets are raised
(08:05) What other food options Jiminy’s will have
(10:06) What skills Anne brought to the table from working in the pet industry
(11:37) What Anne did market research in to find the best way to communicate with customers
(17:11) What’s common practice for pet food companies to test
(18:11) What other sustainable practices does Jiminy practice
(21:23) How Anne gets great user-generated photos for their Instagram
(25:37) How often Anne gets their own photos done
(28:36) Where to find Anne Carlson
TORI: What inspired your start your own pet industry business?
Anne: When I was leaving my 9-to-5 in the pet industry, I raised my hand for a severance package, which helped me have a little bit of time to decide what to do next. And I knew I wanted to do something that was really meaningful. So I was looking at how can I as this single person in Berkeley, California make a difference? I started looking at big world problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, clean water, and all these different things. As I was having all of these thoughts, I got approached by a group to create a new grass-finished beef treat. And I thought, hmm, I love this idea that they wanted to do a sustainable dog treat, but I don’t love the idea of using cow. It isn’t a sustainable animal. So I worked with them and came up with other ideas hence cricket protein, the protein source of the future.
TORI: Why is cricket protein good for dogs?
Anne: Crickets take up barely any space and it’s really humane. They actually get to live almost all of their natural life before they’re harvested. There are about 525 crickets in one of our bags of biscuits. And one biscuit has about five crickets in it. What’s great is you use the entire cricket so there’s hardly any waste. It makes it this incredible super food because it’s not just protein. It actually has fiber as well because the exoskeleton is ground up too.
TORI: Are you working to introduce other cricket based products this year?
Anne: We’ve got a roadmap of things that we’re planning on doing in the future. We started with the biscuits and just added a soft and chewy training treat. The dogs just go nuts for it! Beyond the treats, we’re actually working on dog food to come out actually mid-2019. Along with that, we’re looking to do a topper as well as cat food potentially.
TORI: Your Instagram account features so many great dog customers! What’s the key to getting that content?
Anne: We try to repost pretty much everything that our consumers tag us in. It’s really meaningful to us when we do work with influencers. We try to reach out to those who are sort of young and getting started with maybe 30,000 followers. We’ve got a woman on our team who actually reaches out to them and sends them our treats. Then, it’s up to them what they do with it. They all have their own style for their accounts, but they won’t post unless they love the product. So this is part of our strategy. We’re pretty convinced that if someone tries the product, they’re going to like it.
FIND ANNE CARLSON:
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