Ground pet toys frequently – and literally – fly off the shelf, usually aided by a paw. By now, co-owner Aimee Ross is used to getting messages like âI have to put your product on the top kitchen shelf with a lock on itâ or âThe cat flipped my purse because I left something in it. of your company. Customers send in photos of unsuspecting felines surrounded by the shredded remains of a box sent by the earth-friendly company, based in Rainier.
Ross’s husband and business partner Pascal BÃ©dard hasn’t started entertaining cats and dogs. His real passion is for hemp, the versatile plant that can be used to create fiber, paper, oil, fuel, fabric and more. In 1999 he said, âMy first goal was to start a hemp retail store, with all kinds of hemp products to promote it. But his business mentor recommended that he make products at home rather than go straight into retail. Thus, helped by his mother and his sewing machine and inspired by his cat Chatoiulle, the young entrepreneur founded From the Field.
Sixteen years later, the company offers its range of more than 50 toys and products for cats and dogs (mainly cat) in more than 1,500 independent pet stores in the United States and Canada. Most toys are made from – you guessed it – hemp. Over the past 4 years, the company’s turnover has grown by 33%, and in March the couple moved the business from their home to a retail space in downtown Rainier. What started as a one-man show in Montreal has grown into a thriving business providing part-time work to dozens of independent contractors based in Thurston County.
Bedard believes that staying loyal to independent pet stores, despite several big box retailer approaches, has been key to their success. Cindra Conison from The eccentric animal in Vermont values ââtheir shared values. âEverything in my store is from the United States,â she explains. âTheir products are all made in America. It’s a small business. This is one of the things I love about it.
Another factor is the products themselves. “I sell a ton of their Shelby the Rechargeable Hemp Mouse, and I get loyal customers where their cats lick their faces to death, âsays Conison. Another favorite is the company’s catnip essential oil, created from catnip grown in Washington state. âI keep a bottle of it on my register,â she said. “I ask people if they want me to spray their bags with it.” Most of the time the answer is yes and the customer is now guaranteed to come back.
TO The raw connection in Carmel, Calif., Vanessa Hill finds From the Field products to suit her customers. âWe get a lot of tourists as well as our regular customers who are looking for fun but safe and natural toys, preferably made in the USA,â she says. âThe three catnip products they offer have made our customers’ cats addicted. This has been really wonderful, because for the 5% of cats who don’t take catnip, they come up with alternative blends that include valerian root and silver vine.
A change in public awareness has also played a role in the company’s success. Four years ago the couple were working out of their home and Ross still worked as a real estate agent. Suddenly, reports of dogs sick and dying from contaminated food from China grabbed the headlines, and pet lovers were demanding better and safer products. âOne specific day I came home from an escrow job and there were all these orders,â says Ross. âI was like, ‘What’s going on? And Pascal said: ‘I don’t know. The fax went off hook. There was some kind of awakening. This is when we saw our business change.
As a result, she was able to quit her day job and start working full time in sales. âWhat inspires me is making conscious pet toys,â she says. âPascal has thought of this toy from A to Z, and he is concerned about the earth and about pets, but also light. You can’t take it too seriously because it’s a toy. It’s supposed to be fun. In the end, you talk about a cat having fun or a dog playing with his rope.
For BÃ©dard, local commerce remains a way to showcase the incredible potential of his favorite plant. âI have always been very fascinated by what hemp can do for the environment,â he says. âYou can turn it into paper, fabric, biodegradable plastic, and biofuel. The amount of seeds produced to produce protein oil and powder is not visible anywhere else in any other plant. It’s mind-boggling, the advantage of that.
He hopes their success will inspire others and raise awareness. âWe’re opening up a niche and expanding it and slowly but surely starting to go mainstream. If people copy me and start making products from hemp because our products sell so well, then I have accomplished my mission, âhe says. “If I get people interested in hemp and it starts to create pressure to grow it here in the United States, then I can sleep at night with a light heart.”
You can also order online from Rainier at www.fromthefieldpet.com or by calling 360-446-7689.