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What it’s really like to… transform the pet-food industry
In a nutshell, my job involves…creating healthy products and recipes for dogs and cats in beautifully designed Lily’s Kitchen packaging, helping owners navigate the confusion that is pet food andensuring that everything we make is the best it can be.
When I was a child I wanted to be…a brain surgeon. My father died of a brain tumour when I was 12 and despite working extra-hard on my sciences I could not get the grades needed for medical school. Now, the best thing about my job is seeing the total transformations in pets’ health once they switch to our food.
I got into this industry by…discovering that the food I’d been feeding my dog Lily was making her very ill. When I realised it was down to the pet food I’d been giving her (and I’d tried them all), I decided to make a range of food for cats and dogs that could be trusted to be truly healthy for pets. I’m also a keen gardener so I wanted to incorporate into our recipes the naturally nutritious vegetables, fruits, botanicals and herbs that I often grew.
I love what I do because… I adore Lily. She’s 15-and-a-half now and she is my world. It’s such a privilege to have a pet in your life, as however bad things get they are always there to comfort and love you, make you laugh and drag you out in all weathers. I also love all the thank-you messages we get from our customers.
The best part of my day is…first thing in the morning. I open the kitchen door and am greeted by Lily and Lulu (her six-year-old grand-daughter), who are both full of excitement, joy and delight. I’ll take them for a walk on Hampstead Heath and then we’ll have breakfast when we get back.
The hardest part of my day is…when things gets delayed. My team work so hard to make sure everything is perfect so when there is a problem it’s disappointing for everyone. We recently moved warehouse and everything was severely held up for a few weeks – that was stressful for everyone to deal with, including our very forgiving customers.
The aspect of my job that always surprises people is…that I always taste the food. It’s the best way of knowing whether the recipe is right.
The three skills that help me succeed are…tenacity, a sunny-side-up personality and being courageous.
The biggest change in my industry at the moment is…the fact that multinational pet-food producers are realising they cannot continue to hoodwink consumers.
My role model is…all women in business. It really is tough – there are just so many hidden challenges and it can be pretty relentless. I am often the only woman at a business event, which I find shocking in this day and age. I have a sign on my desk that says ‘I’m not bossy, I am the Boss’.
The one thing I wish I’d known when I started out is…to truly trust myself. I think women tend to second-guess and wonder if they are right. They then hand their power over to people they think know better and in my experience this has not been the case. It can be lonely at the top as a woman – there is no one around to say you are doing a great job, and women are very open to this kind of feedback.
Anyone wanting to do my job should begin by…researching how to make an industry better. I’m so proud that Lily’s Kitchen spearheaded a wave of healthy pet food. I spent two years talking to experts and finding out everything about what dogs and cats need. All that information helped me to create the right set of recipes.
In 10 years’ time, I’d like to be…helping others to grow their businesses and encouraging other companies to have a strong social purpose. We are a B Corporation, which means that we are not just about profit but also about making a difference to others. I like to call it the quadruple bottom line: pets, planet, people, profit.
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