Black Sheep Organics is a Vancouver company offering cruelty-free, natural, hand-crafted dog grooming products. The company uses organic, locally sourced ingredients, has adopted eco-friendly business practices and uses minimal and recyclable packaging. VHS interviewed proprietors Hilary Barchashand and Adam Coladipietro to find out more about their business.
VHS: Can you say a bit about what motivated you to open Black Sheep Organics?
H&A: We were planning our other company, an organic dog grooming spa, and wanted a fully organic line of dog grooming products to use in-house and sell in our retail area. What we wanted ̶ an organic, bio-degradable, cruelty-free product made with as few ingredients as possible that were locally sourced, and had ethical and eco-friendly business practice ̶ just wasn’t out there.
VHS: Was it difficult to start this kind of business?
H&A: For us it’s fun and meaningful, so we wouldn’t say difficult. Researching and developing our products from the ground up was our first biggest challenge, second to that is finding the time to spend growing our company.
VHS: How is the business going now and how do you feel about the future of Black Sheep Organics?
H&A: The demand for our type of product is there, with people being far more aware and concerned about the health of their pets, our environment, and animal testing for cosmetics. We want to grow this company large enough so that everybody has access to cruelty-free products with a small eco-footprint, that are healthy for their dog.
VHS: Who are your customers? Is there a predominant demographic?
H&A: Our customers are mostly women, varying in age from their mid-twenties and up. A lot of our customers are health conscious and often eat organically and feed their pets raw, organic meals. Vegans and vegetarians like our products because our products are not made with any animal ingredients, and are cruelty-free.
VHS: How do you reach your customers?
H&A: We have a fabulous sales representative, Melanie MacCarthy, who works with local pet stores and grooming salons. We also have a webstore and we are building our online presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
VHS: Do you think the market is growing for cruelty-free products?
H&A: Yes. I think at one time this was a fringe market, but the internet and social media has made people aware of the dirty business behind the cosmetics industry.
VHS: What do you think needs to happen to encourage consumers to make more ethical choices?
H&A: Education. We need to keep talking about it. When more people are aware of the cruelty that takes place to create cosmetics, they will vote with their dollars.
VHS: What keeps you positive and optimistic?
H&A: Knowing that we are making the world a better place.
VHS: What’s your most popular product?
H&A: Most of the year it’s our Lavender & Geranium Shampoo for Dogs, but in the summer, it’s our Bug Spray for Dogs.
VHS: What do you find most rewarding or satisfying about running Black Sheep Organics?
H&A: We do good. We help mother nature.