Q How has your previous experience in the pet industry prepared you for your role at ZIWI?
A I have been passionate about pets for my entire life, and for many years had my sights set on becoming a veterinarian. This changed when I had a boxer who developed cancer, and I discovered the correlation between nutrition and pet health and that many ailments could be treated through improved diet and better-quality ingredients. Unfortunately for Bailey, my discovery came too late. Since then, I have dedicated my career to educating pet owners about preventative nutrition. Besides my personal passion for pets, I brought over 10 years of experience in the pet food industry when I joined ZIWI almost four years ago. I started out as a territory sales manager before working my way up to director of retail execution. All of the experience I received working in sales, and the strong relationships I built and maintained along the way, opened the door for a position at ZIWI as their GM of North America sales and marketing before being promoted to president and executive director. Working for ZIWI was an opportunity that was a no-brainer for me, as they are the perfect complement of nutritional excellence and pristine, ethically farming and sustainable sourcing. During my time as GM, I established a North American headquarters, hiring and leading a national sales team and administrative support team, implementing and monitoring online MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing) compliance, and executing a rebrand with a marketing campaign to expand the brand awareness of ZIWI.
Q How is ZIWI evolving to continue meeting the needs of its customers?
A Consumers are looking for a brand they can trust. They demand honesty, transparency and traceability of ingredients. Our main focus has been consumer education over the past three years. Since consumers have become more educated in nutrition and health, they are realizing that an appropriate diet is essential for their pets to live long, healthy lives. Because of this, ZIWI will continue to invest in new innovations to lead the pet nutrition industry.
Q Why did ZIWI choose the air-drying technique for its food production, and how is the process changing?
A The practice of preserving food by air-drying has been around since ancient times. ZIWI has taken a modern and refined approach to this ancient artisanal process of naturally preserving the meats. We knew that this twin stage, low-temp process would be ideal to achieve all of the benefits we were wanting in our food, such as eliminating pathogens, while preserving and condensing the nutrients and flavors of the raw ingredients in our recipes. The air-drying process protects the nutrition integrity, resulting in an extremely nutrient-dense and palatable food that closely mirrors the whole-prey biologically appropriate ancestral diet of dogs and cats. Species-appropriate diet research has shown dogs and cats to live longer, healthier lives, and have less incidence of diet-related allergies and disease. ZIWI air-dried is so versatile that it can be fed as a complete and balanced diet, treat or reward.
Q What are the benefits of ZIWI sourcing its ingredients from New Zealand?
A New Zealand sourcing is a meaningful element to ZIWI’s identity. New Zealand is recognized worldwide for having clean, ethical farming practices and superior-quality meats. Because we craft our foods there, we can source from farmers that we know and trust, and can trace every batch of ZIWI back to the farm from which the meat originated. New Zealand has a very temperate climate, which allows for open-pasture grazing year-round. This means we are able to source meats that are always grass-fed and grass-finished, which means they offer more nutritional benefits. It’s also important to us that the New Zealand meats we source are GMO-free, and free of added growth hormones and antibiotics.
Q What do you love most about being a pet owner?
A I grew up with pets. My parents had yorkies that we loved dearly, but I always wanted a bigger dog. So, my first dog I ever owned by myself was a boxer named Bailey. Bailey showed me the love, affection and dedication that being a pet owner entails and I loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, Bailey died of cancer, but she did leave me with the passion to dedicate my career to educating pet owners on the correlation between nutrition and pet health. I am now the owner of two dogs who are each other’s best friends, Maui and Daisy. My two dogs not only provide companionship and loyalty, but also the opportunity to give my kids a gift of loving pets just as much as I do. My kids absolutely adore their fur babies, and it is such an amazing sight to see them care for and play with Maui and Daisy. I love knowing that I can provide a house, a good-quality life, and feed them nutritious food that will benefit them in the long-run and prevent future health problems.