20 December 2020|Business Growth, Latest Posts, Launching a business, Meet the Successful Founder
As part of our Meet the Successful Founder Series, we caught up with the inspirational Carina Evans. As a leading entrepreneur in the pet care sector, Carina, CEO of Podium Pet Products, has spent her lifetime perfecting the art of making a difference, with an aim to leave a legacy she can be proud of. With a motto of ‘If you aren’t in it, you can’t win it’ shaping her decisions, Carina has lived a full life, both personally and professionally. Here she tells us more about how she has grown her pet-loving company and her hopes for the future of the brand.
In order to understand business growth now, Carina believe it is important to go back in the annals of time to revisit her youth, as she believes this is where her drive began to take shape and believes that the influential people of our youth are the ones that start the fires that burn within us as we look to shape and future-proof our businesses.
At the age of 16 Carina moved with her family to her grandmother’s farm near Sherborne in Dorset. “Like many other farms, my grandmother’s was very much a family partnership. It taught me the values of self-sufficiency and that hard work really does pay off. My mother was also a key influence on my drive to succeed. She was an important player in the world of eventing, so I was surrounded by high achievers, including woman at the top of their game, and that certainly rubbed off on me too.”
It wasn’t until 2005 however that saw Carina’s dream for her business begin to take shape with the launch of Podium pet Products. “The company actually grew from very humble beginnings, basically a desk and a file under the stairs in my cottage. At the time I set it up I didn’t even know what to do with an invoice!” Its success, she says, is simple – it has grown “through sheer hard work and determination.”
The company launched its most successful product, Dog Rocks, a year later; in essence it eradicates canine urine burn marks on lawns and shrubs. It was around this time that Carina recalled a speech HRH The Prince of Wales made, where he vowed to live a carbon-free lifestyle at home and work including zero plastic usage and upcycling and recycling as much as possible. This speech resonated significantly with Carina and helped her to create her mission statement for her business and personal life, and where she began taking steps to eradicate a reliance on single-use plastic. She said: “Inspiration can come when you least expect it, and it can often have more of an impact on you than you’d ever think possible.
For me the words of Prince Charles have echoed around my head for many years. The simplicity of the statement ‘just don’t use plastic’ seems so obvious, and it really does underpin what we are trying to achieve within our EcoPledge (no plastic is added to the all natural pet care range, Be:Loved, and all product packaging is designed to be recyclable or upcycled after use to reduce unnecessary waste). It’s a target that originally did not necessarily equate to an immediate increase in profitability, but over time we have come to find that it makes a difference to our customers, and is now starting to contribute to our business growth as more and more people look to make more sustainable choices.”
The launch of Dog Rocks helped Carina to move from the sitting room to the garage. A small step for some, a HUGE leap for the Podium team as they now had a dedicated office facility that meant they were better equipped to keep up with demand. By 2011, the company was growing by 40 per cent each year, initially selling Dog Rocks online to an audience of consumers and retailers, while enquiries from wholesalers began too. They then took the business model across the pond and began selling in North America in 2012. And then in 2016 the firm became one of 243 businesses to be awarded The Queen’s Award for International Trade. Today its warehouse is housed on a farm within the heart of the Berkshire countryside.
Earlier this year Carina and the team launched its all-natural pet care range called Be:Loved which is focused on bringing natural wellness and stylish lifestyle products to both pets and their owners. The story behind it, once again draws on inspiration from yesteryear, from a much-loved family heirloom: an old farmhouse recipe and animal husbandry book. It is these recipes that Be:Loved’s products are borne from, helping to soothe and nourish problem skin and troublesome paws and noses. Within weeks of its launch, the range won the ‘Best New Product’ Award at pet retail show, PATS 2020.
Be:Loved remains a very hands-on brand for Carina and her team. The back office is where the ‘magic happens’ with Carina often found mixing up new recipes and hand pouring samples for testing. This is a business with real heart as Carina openly admits: “I am absolutely passionate about the growth and development of my business; in a nutshell, we are about realistic animal care and comfort advice with an emphasis on the natural. Believing in our products is at the very heart of what we do, which is why I’m always tweaking recipes and do not shy away from getting my hands dirty. I am creating products that I truly love and want people to love them just as much. In order to get that right, I have to roll my sleeves up and get involved. These are not products we can just farm out and hope for the best. For us, the passion of each product – each of which is an incredibly tactile thing to use – needs to be really felt so being up close and personal with our ranges enables me to stay on top of this.”
This combination of passion and product with a robust business model has also helped Carina and her team achieve both tangible and sustainable growth. She said: “We have a policy of following up every business lead and employing a driven and determined team with a can-do attitude and a real commitment to first class customer service. Put simply – and all of us are such animal lovers – we are dedicated to making the lives of dogs and their owners more joyous and harmonious.”
But what next for Podium Pet Products? “The world is our oyster, but in the short-term we are working incredibly hard to education and inspire our customers. From asking them to make their own EcoPledge, and to take little steps to reduce the reliance on single-use plastics. We want to get pet owners to focus more on the ingredients they use within pet care and pampering, and to educate them on the benefits of all-natural ingredients. We’re also working to help our customers to strengthen the bond between pet and pet parent and arm them with the information they need to be the best pet parents they can be. These are all topics we are deeply passionate about, and believe are representative of a significant gap in the market. It is here that we believe will be our largest opportunity for growth for both us and our retail partners. It’s an exciting prospect and one we relish. Watch this space to see how we get on!”
Carina concluded: “Affordable, ethical, sustainable and gorgeous. That’s what our journey is all about.” To find out more about Carina and her business please visit www.podiumpetproducts.com