Tell us about you and your background.
I grew up in a small town in Jamaica consisting of everything you’d expect from an “island lifestyle” — a couple beaches and a local pharmacy that sold just enough. There, I was raised by two entrepreneurs who stressed the importance of independence, a good work ethic, a business mindset and a lot of creativity. As a kid I was always painting, drawing, building something — my mother took note and quickly began the after school lessons and storage of handy-handbag crayons. These experiences led to art school, followed by a career in design.
I moved to NYC the day after I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and began working as a designer. In 2015 I joined the team at sweetgreen as their first creative hire. My three years there were transformative for my career, character, life. It was the best education in how to launch a brand, build a creative team, and then bridge creative and marketing so they’d seamlessly integrate.
I was always watching as designers and entrepreneurs I admired took leaps to start their own brands. I looked at the path my mother took, starting her first business in her 30s and reassured myself that the time would come where I would be ready to take that leap.
Veronica & Bill (my co-founders) and I met through mutual friends. At the time, we were all working in the intimate world of NYC start-ups. A few of us had had poor experiences shopping for our pets, and shared feelings of being overwhelmed as first-time pet parents. Getting a new pet is a huge responsibility, and it shouldn’t be made more daunting while shopping for essential products. When we set out to build Wild One, we wanted to create a trusted, curated, cross-category one-stop-shop that supports pet parents from day one.
How did Wild One come about? Why did you see a gap in the market?
It was really a series of bad shopping experiences, both for our pets and those of friends. We love our pets, and desired a seamless, curated, well-designed collection of dog products that we felt good about displaying in our home, and couldn’t find elsewhere. As we further researched the pet space, we realized that pet retail is saturated with inexplicable options, and the world of treats, supplements and food was crowded with products that were unhealthy for our dogs. The more we lifted the hood, the more passionate we became about creating products that were up to our own standards.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a brand so far?
I think most start-ups experience this push-pull of staying true to a core mission while trying to scale your business. There are so many companies doing really impressive things in the consumer products world that appeal to changing tastes and behaviors. It’s always a challenge to strike that balance of being true to the brand we’ve created -- and are very proud of -- while also incorporating deliberate flexibility that can help us grow. It’s something we’re calibrating in real time.
What inspires you and motivates you?
Our customers and our team! We have built a big community of pet parents and lovers online that are consistently emailing or DMing us with product requests, suggestions and feedback. Their energy around Wild One and willingness to share their experiences with our products, as well as continued loyalty to return to purchase refills and newness, is incredibly motivating and exciting.
The other big piece, our team! At Wild One HQ we have a phenomenal, tight-knit family that openly shares ideas, dreams big together and motivates each other. I’m so grateful for their hard work, innovative minds, friendship and dedication to our brand.
How important is it to you to build a community and connect with the people who follow you?
Our community has grown alongside us. They’re our cheerleaders and motivators, and we continue to improve and grow the brand because of them. Connecting with them, listening to what they want, taking their feedback and also giving them the fun and inspiring content they want to see that is very important to us now, and as we continue to expand.
What have you worked on or achieved with Wild One that you are most proud of?
I’m very proud of our brand’s rapid growth, the thoughtfully designed products we share with the world, and all the hard work and skill we have injected into building a brand and community for the past 2+ years. All of that said, I’m easily most proud of the team that we have built. I think our team is the best I’ve ever worked with in my entire career and I’m very lucky to create alongside them.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months (or in 2021)?
On top of some super secret new product development, expanding internationally is something I’m very excited about! I’m international, myself, so seeing our brand in London, Australia and beyond is a little mind blowing and a lot exciting!
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or start their own personal project?
Starting a business is not easy. For me, there were a lot of emotional challenges, moments of doubting myself and my ability to manage the weight of being responsible for not only a brand but a team, and each member’s career growth. It’s essential to love what you do, trust your gut instincts and try your best to not be afraid of failing.
At A LITTLE FIND you can find brands and products for all your home and beauty needs, with a particular focus on sustainability and being kind to our planet. What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably and mindfully?
Make small changes that feel attainable and sustainable. If you can stick to some more micro habits and purchasing practices you can grow from there.
What do you look for when finding the perfect gift?
A nice balance of thoughtful and useful. I keep a tidy house with little clutter, so I don’t like to give gifts or tschatskies that take up space in someone’s home. I love finding gifts that are functional but also meaningful and specific to the person I am giving them to!
What is your LITTLE FIND? (Favourite product on A LITTLE FIND)
The W&P Porter Water Bottle — talk about taking small steps to be more sustainable! I have 3 of these and am never without one. They’ve not only helped me kick a bad plastic water bottle habit but I’m also drinking 5x as much water as I used to!
It’s always fun to end with a quickfire round...
- Favourite TV series right now? Bridgerton - and I’m not ashamed.
- Last thing you cooked? Gluten free goat cheese and chive biscuits (so much for my wedding diet).
- Favourite Instagram account to follow? Stella Simona (@stellasimona)! Her skincare recommendations have changed my skin completely. I’ve had bad skin my whole life until following a regimen she recommended! Also her Instagram is aesthetically gorgeous and her children are so cute.
- Best book recommendation? We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha Irby for something fun. Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull for something educational and introspective.
- Perfect way to spend your weekend? Cat, Dog, Fiance, Couch, Popcorn and bingeing an old season of Survivor.
- Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? Estella in NYC. Love you guys, miss you!
- Country you’d love to visit? India, always and forever. Half of my heart is in that country and I aim to see it all!