Overcoming Challenges: Women Business Leaders Drive Pet Industry Growth

By Ashley Carestia//May 5, 2023//

Overcoming Challenges: Women Business Leaders Drive Pet Industry Growth

By: Ashley Carestia//May 5, 2023//

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The pet industry is thriving — and much of its success is due to the amazing women who are at its helm. Indeed, women are a driving force in so many corners of the pet space. In fact, 61 percent of women in business can be found in one of four sectors — administration, professional technical services, health care and the pet industry. 

Business growth in these individual sectors has widened the margins for women to own their own business. Another reason 3.5 million women-owned businesses have opened in the last decade is that many women possess innate skills that make them strong business leaders. Women are often adept with priority setting, people coordinating and communication while being driven by tenacity and proficiency. 

Women-owned businesses have faced all those challenges and more, and they remain undaunted about starting and growing their own businesses. Women-owned businesses in the pet industry respond quickly to the needs of the modern pet parent, and they cover a wide range of goods and services. From franchises to the niche startups, we all benefit from the efforts of hundreds of aspirational women influencing the way we care for and spoil our best furry friends. 

Women continue to make significant strides in the business world by founding innovative companies, introducing revolutionary new ideas and building a path to workforce equity. 

Women business leaders play an essential role in their local communities, the economy and the world at large. They serve as a vital part of the world’s economic engine and empower the next generation of women to reach their goals as entrepreneurs. 

As of 2019, the number of women-owned businesses has doubled to nearly 13 million (representing 42 percent of all U.S. businesses), and a 2022 study showed that over the past three years, the number of women entrepreneurs grew by 48 percent year-over-year, which outpaced their male counterparts by 22 percent. 

The FCC notes that building a support network is necessary and that nearly half of female founders say they’re held back by a lack of mentors or advisers. 

Mentorship can make a considerable difference in your professional growth. Over the years, I’ve learned the importance and value of this, both as a mentor and a mentee, and how much more can be achieved when you pay it forward and help lift other women up. This can be done through providing programs and materials, serving as a confidant to a peer or encouraging women to look into new, educational resources. To lean into their network and not be afraid to ask for help. 

“The importance of having a support system of fellow women business owners for networking, mentoring and sharing ideas/resources. But also, in accessing capital, women are falling short.  Some of this may be attributed to poor financial record keeping and/or not making asking for enough when pitching, but there is also bias based upon the decision makers (VCs) being still very male-dominated,” said Jill Goodrich, president of the Georgia Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “It is important that we push for more women to be represented in the decision-making process in those VCs to help close the funding gender gap.

Having been awarded Pet Age’s Woman of Influence award myself, I know that ambitious, hardworking females are influential in the pet industry. They’re constantly pushing the envelope in pet care and are always looking for innovative ways to accelerate the development of the pet industry as a whole. Women entrepreneur groups are imperative as it allows us to share ideas and changes in the industry. 

Jennifer Kirk, founder and CEO of Posh Puppy Boutique, agrees. 

“I am part of many women entrepreneur groups where we continue to share ideas and changes in the industry,” she noted. “I think that there are many more women owned businesses and brands since I started in 2007. There is more respect for women business owners and the playing field is broader with more resources to help women succeed. 

“The business world is ever changing and there has been an increased focus on women owned brands, specifically small businesses,” she added. “The focus has shifted to U.S. based business support, which is something I strongly promote — that we are women owned and operated in the U.S.A. The only way to be successful is to stay in tune with the ever-changing business you are in and to know your competition.”  

What’s next? The answer to this question will depend on who you are. If you’re a woman business owner, though, your next steps will be to consider how you can continue to grow your business. As women-owned businesses continue to flourish, so too will the nation. 

Your vision, goals and dreams are waiting for you. 


 A successful fashion model for 25 years, Ashley Carestia also is founder/CEO of Bark Fifth Avenue, a luxury retail boutique and brand. She has earned the respect of her colleagues through arduous work and dedication, being awarded the Small Business of the Year Award by the Atlanta Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women of Influence award from Pet Age and Entrepreneur of the Year by Women in The Pet Industry.


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