On a More Personal Note
It has been four months since we’ve published anything on our blog. We’ve been so inundated by the demands of growth, it’s been hard to catch our breath. Alison’s day-to-day responsibilities include (but are not limited to) the time-sensitive tasks of sourcing our ingredients, managing the logistics to get them to our kitchen on time, overseeing production, then managing the logistics of getting Evermore to our various warehouses before we run out. Add raising a toddler into the mix, and she’s basically Wonder Woman. I’m generally responsible for customer service, strategic partnerships and sales and marketing, the latter of which includes creating blog content (which Alison then helps refine with her keen editorial sensibility). Between my less structured quotidian reality and what seems to be a long-term case of writer’s block, our blog has suffered.
This whole time, our sales have been increasing, even without creating the fresh original content that pretty much every marketing guru out there claims is essential. In fact, an infinitesimal portion of our budget goes towards marketing. Occasionally we’ll promote a social media post, and we spend a few hundred dollars on Google Adwords every month. Mostly we rely on word-of-mouth, review sites and the personal recommendations of vets and other pet professionals to increase our sales in a steady and manageable way. When you’re genuinely trying to make the best product humanly possible, explosive growth can be dangerous—when volume increases quickly without the right measures in place, quality tends to suffer. Additionally, our vetted, accountable vendors run smaller operations, so if we were to blindside them with a large order, they might not be able to fill it. (Trust me, we know where our less expensive competitors shop, we just don’t.)
Basically I’m rationalizing the fact that I haven’t been maintaining our blog by demonstrating that we haven’t needed to. But there’s more to the story.
During the winter, our production demands grew super rapidly. It was hard to predict how much food to make and which warehouse to send it to, and getting into our “new normal” rhythm with our kitchen without compromising our quality standards kept us both up at night. Our production schedule ramped up considerably, and customer service became a 24/7 job.
In January, we made the excellent decision to hire Erin to handle customer service. After only a few months of hands-on training, she can now pretty much resolve most inquiries and issues on her own. With Erin on board, my stress clouds seemed to have lifted, which meant I theoretically had more time to create the thoughtful content that our followers have come to expect. The only problem was every time I sat down to write, I found myself staring at the screen and ultimately clicking down a social media or news cycle rabbit hole.
Then in April, I got sick. Specifically I came down with a case of shingles, which was miserable, all-consuming and completely debilitating. One allergic reaction to antivirals later, I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM—shout out to my wonderful practitioner, Gretchen Sampsen). The bitter tasting blend of herbs she prescribed created an almost immediate shift, and the searing rash quickly receded.
Throughout the whole disease and healing process, I’ve been reflecting deeply on Evermore, my role in the company, our food’s role in dogs’ lives and in the market more generally. Experiencing the holistic modality of TCM succeed for me where Western Medicine failed only served to reaffirm my faith in food as medicine and that nature’s bounty, wisely deployed, can address many health problems for human and animal alike. I also came to recognize that my illness came from imbalance—in my case, the stress of running a business untempered by a creative outlet. In the past, I have relied on painting and circus performance to fill an ingrained need for self-expression, but both of these passions have been harder to manage due to lack of studio space and chronic injuries.
In a eureka moment, I decided that the obvious solution was that I needed to write. A few weeks ago, I started a personal Medium accountand began with a few memoir pieces, some of which I have already published. Tapping into memories, the words flowed almost effortlessly. Initially I had to fight off the “guilty” feeling that I was writing but not creating anything of value for the business. Then I remembered, like everything else, writing is a craft that comes with practice, and that the whole purpose of my memoir writing was to give myself the opportunity for creative output outside of the business. Sure enough, a few weeks of practice under my belt, and I feel compelled to write for this blog again.
Now that I’m back in a groove, we have a long list of ideas for topics, some more specifically centered around ingredient sourcing and our business practices, others about the realities of bootstrapping our awesome little company. That said, some of our best posts have been spurred by customer questions. What would you like to hear about from us?