We recently sat down with Jen Melton, president and co-founder of Cloud Star, about how the company got its start.
Michelle: Tell us a little about how Cloud Star got its start.
Jen: It all started with a shelter puppy. Way back in 1998, Brennan, my husband and co-founder of Cloud Star, and I adopted a 6-month-old German Shepherd mix named Samantha. Little did we know that she would change the course of our lives forever.
Sam suffered from food allergies and a very sensitive stomach. I searched for foods and treats that would satisfy her and yield to her many allergies, but there were none readily available. That is when I started making my own food and treats for Sam in our home kitchen.
As part of our contribution to a local bake-sale event at the San Clemente Animal Shelter, I baked a batch of Sam’s special-diet dog treats. The response was overwhelming, they sold out and then the calls started coming in for more. The original formula from that bake-sale blossomed into Cloud Star, a company with a mission to give pets tasty and wholesome products.
Michelle: Your Buddy Biscuits have become somewhat of an icon in the industry. What was the inspiration behind them?
Jen: Buddy Biscuits was one of those unexplainable creations. I can’t remember the exact details anymore, but I bet it was a late night after a few beers. We came up with the name “Buddy Biscuits” before the shape. The first biscuits, sold at the San Clemente Animal Shelter Bake Sale, were heart shaped and packed up in little Chinese food containers with a red bow.
We’ve come a long way since then. Buddy the Biscuit even has his own Facebook page, where he gets to lament about the life of being a dog treat www.facebook.com/buddythebiscuit.
Michelle: Philanthropy is an integral part of your company. Tell us about some of the various groups you work with.
Jen: Ever since we started Cloud Star, it has been our mission to give back to the community, whether it is local or national. In 2012, we added our Cloud Star Proof of Purchase donation program, where we give our customers the choice to tell us where they want their donation dollars sent. The program has been a huge success and is gaining popularity every year. In 2013, we donated to over 70 nonprofit organizations.
This year, we have some exciting new partnerships underway. Cloud Star is now the official training treat at Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s guide-dog school. And since well-mannered, sociable dogs are easier to adopt, we are also the official training-treat partner for the Dogs and Cats at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Michelle: What’s a typical day like for you?
Jen: I am an early riser for sure. My typical day starts at 5 a.m. I’ll check email, play the guitar for a bit, grab a cup of coffee, and Tiller, then head out for a hike or run. I come home, get the kids off to school and head into the office by 8:30.
Running a small business means performing a wide array of tasks. Lucky for me, I have an incredible group of managers that I work with that make my life easier. We meet or talk daily so that I can stay up to date with all aspects of the business.
It seems like by the time I grab my second cup of coffee it’s already 2 p.m., and I dive into emails again, work on a bit of product development and some strategic planning. Then it’s time to pick up the kids and head off to part two of my day.
I am privileged to serve on two boards that I am very passionate about: Woods Humane Society and Womenade. I am also an active leader for our local 4H and the soccer coach for my daughter’s AYSO soccer teams. Life is crazy busy and I love it that way.