Kim Hehir, co-founder of Brutus Broth, on enhancing your dog’s health through specially formulated bone broth

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Describe your business in a few words?

Brutus Broth is the latest innovation in pet health, made with human-grade bone broth that has been specially formulated to enhance any dog’s existing diet by adding beneficial nutrients, amino acids, and joint protecting supplements.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

Sue’s dog Brutus. The entire business idea came one Thanksgiving when we were asked what led to Brutus’ long and happy life and the answer was, “love and Grandma’s bone broth.” Because of Brutus, we were able to take what we did for him to market and help other dogs. We’re also inspired and excited by the challenge of developing something that really wasn’t widely available in the pet industry.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

My background spans the strategy, marketing, finance, and non-profit industries with my most recent role having been as Vice President of Strategic Planning for the Leading Hotels of the World. Sue had successfully co-founded Ilios Dairy Brands and spent years working in the non-profit sector.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

With an entrepreneur for a father, it was always an idea in the back of our minds. He really inspired us and taught us so much about being entrepreneurs.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

When we first launched, we had hired someone out of LA with a big following to help with our social media thinking that would help us go viral. He did not understand our brand at all and would post off-brand things. It backfired and as a brand that is all about authenticity we were forced to pivot. We switched to smaller ad campaigns with geo-targeting which worked really well. It’s been a learning curve – we’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy on things we thought could work but didn’t.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

We’ve had large retailers say no, which is normal for new businesses, but luckily it made us want to persevere and keep trying. We now are in a lot of big retailers which has shown us the power of persistence – if the door gets slammed in your face, try the window.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

We’re most proud of having stayed authentic to our brand even after growing so much in recent years. We’ve continued to keep our mission at the core of what we do, saying no to things that could have made us money but wouldn’t have been true to ourselves. For us, giving back, setting an example for the next generation through the Kids Committee and being female founders, is all so important to us.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

Are you willing to wear many hats? There is no one job description at smaller start-ups and people need to be willing to step into many roles to get things done.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

While this past year was really hard, the spike in pet adoptions during the pandemic has been great for business. We’ve expanded to new stores, including some really notable ones.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We’ve got some exciting new things coming up that we can’t quite speak on yet… but keep an eye out. Until then, just know the Brutus Broth plans to continue to grow and help dogs everywhere stay happy and healthy.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

We’ve had some big roadblocks pop up in the past year; things that nobody could have foreseen. It just goes to show that even if you do everything by the book, things could go wrong or people could try to bring you down, but stay strong and stick to your values.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

I wish I had known regulations inside and out. The regulation on pet food is state to state, so it’s a big learning curve when you’re first starting out. We’ve had to change packaging so many times. We learned it as we went along which cost more money than if we had known right off the bat. My advice is to just spend the money up front to get a consultant because it will save you money in the long run.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Exercise and wine!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Absolutely. Being multitaskers helps and finding ways to save time and energy when you can, like using Instacart for example.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

People are always surprised to learn that both Sue and I had double mastectomies our first year in business. They’re shocked we did so much in that time while dealing with these big issues in our personal lives.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Make a list, exercise every day even if it is just a short run or walk, and outsource for the small things like using Instacart and other services so we can focus on the bigger things.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means being productive and creative in new ways, collaborating with other small companies, and helping small startups by paying it forward and offering advice and mentorship.

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