Pet Business: What was your inspiration for starting Pure Puppy?
Heather Hillman: We felt that there was a void in the industry for a truly natural, nontoxic, honest product line for pets. Our Newfie puppy Olaf, when he was four months old, had his first bath with us, and what we used on him was a product that was labeled as natural. Within hours, he was itching and scratching and had a raised rash. The next morning, he was bleeding under his neck and was physically ill. We rushed him to the vet and found that he had a systemic staph infection. He was so sick that he could have died if we had not gotten him to the vet.
After that scare, I started researching pet shampoos. All I wanted was to find a product that I could trust to wash Olaf with—something safe and nontoxic— and I could not find one. My background being in skincare and product development, I know ingredients and I could not get over products that were so far from being natural, but labeled that way.
PB: How has the company evolved since you started in 2011?
HH: We have developed a line of mango products that has mango pulp, which is incredibly healing and soothing and is the perfect line for extremely allergy prone skin. We are also working on a line of pomegranate/probiotic products, and a line of organic raw food treats, organic chew toys, organic bedding and organic leashes—with only ingredients and materials sourced from and manufactured in the US.
PB: What sets Pure Puppy grooming products apart from other products on the market?
Eric Hillman: Our honesty. We don’t hide behind creative verbiage, like “gentle coconut cleansers” or “ingredients derived from the Earth.” Those ingredient disclosures make me laugh; bleach, arsenic and paint stripper are all “derived from the Earth,” but that doesn’t mean I want them on my dog.
HH: We are who we say we are. Pure Puppy is 100-percent natural, 100-percent biodegradable, 90-percent certified organic, preservative free, sulfate free, and free of artificial fragrances, dyes, emulsifiers and animal-derived ingredients. Pure Puppy is the most gentle, pure and honest product on the market for our pets and the planet.
PB: What are the biggest challenges that retailers will face when selling natural grooming products like Pure Puppy? What advice would you give to pet stores to overcome these challenges?
HH: I think that the biggest challenge is to educate the customer about toxic ingredients. We have very informative brochures and a great website that is loaded with information to help with the education process.
We believe that being green is no longer a trend, but a lifestyle. In the stores that carry and work with the Pure Puppy products, they have had success in listening to their customers’ needs. The stores that carry Pure Puppy also carry premium foods and treats—we feel that Pure Puppy is the extension of that. While diet is important in keeping our furry friends healthy, what we use on them is important too.
PB: What does the future hold for the natural grooming product category, and for Pure Puppy?
HH: I believe that the future is going to grow towards more and more natural products in general, including grooming products. Pure Puppy, I feel will be a pioneer of this category. If we can help make a difference in the lives of our beloved pets and in the lives of their owners by honoring our commitment to being who we say we are, I think that will cement Pure Puppy’s reputation in the mind of the conscientious consumer.
EH: Pure Puppy is at the forefront of the grooming industry. Water is our most treasured commodity on this planet. Water treatment plants have a hard enough time filtering out the multitude of pharmaceuticals that have bombarded our society over the past 30 years. A bath with Pure Puppy is one way to keep the planet just a little bit greener, one dog at a time.