Tell us a little about yourself, your career and your current
I’m a retired professional GBR World Cup Bob Skeleton
Athlete and the fastest British woman on the Cresta Run,
St. Moritz, in modern time and recorded. By transferring
skills from sport to business, with extraordinary levels of
commitment, dedication and an intrinsic motivation to
achieve goals, combined with effective time-management
skills and the ability to work to the minutiae with attention
to detail under extremely high levels of performance-related
pressure, the companies have achieved average 35 percent
growth year over year for the last six years.
Best boss—when I worked for Arena Leisure I always
looked forward to watching how Ian Penrose guided his
ship. Most stupid mistake to date—cutting corners trying
to save money and employing the wrong people.
Best business decision so far—exploration; if you are not
in it, you can;t win it, press the ;esh. Inspiration;S;; op-
eratives and those brave men and women that fought for
our liberty in past wars; “circumspice.”
I am now chief bottle washer at Podium Pet Products, a
company I started approximately 10 years ago. I guide and
steer the ship, and try to delegate all elements of running a
small- to medium-sized business as possible.
What makes working in the pet industry unique? What inspires you most
about working in this industry?
The pet industry is growing, and innovation excites me as
well as creativity. I don’t necessarily agree with humanizing
one’s pet too much, animals need to be animals, but there is
huge scope for creativity and individuality when innovating, and that e;cites me. ;e e;ist to fulfill the ;oy that pets
bring us as their parents, and bringing to market natural
solutions inspires our core values.
Do you think women bring unique perspectives and ideas to the table?
For sure, in the pet industry, especially, as we are the typical
consumer, we have a really good feel of what the market
wants, can take, and what our customers want and mean
and expect. We understand customer service and expecta-
tions and have a great degree of empathy as well as the
motherly instinct fostered by owning pets and bringing up
Just like with children, I am tolerant and try to listen to
all opinions. If there is something that is not going to plan,
I try to find another way, but I set clear e;pectations and
parameters, and if they are abused, then a mend/change, is
swiftly implemented—just like being a mother.
Gut instinct has played an integral part in all my business decisions; I have not always followed my gut, however, which has led to bad business decisions. I think this
goes back to mother nature as well, but I am not sure that is
because I am a woman or no. It’s debatable.
What challenges and opportunities does the pet industry present for
Challenges? None, if you have the right mindset [and]
don’t build barriers that don’t exist. There is no difference
between men and women in the workplace; men have challenges and problems as well as women.
;pportunities; ;uge, with the way new products and
innovation are accepted and desired, the opportunities
to work in a corporate, entrepreneurial environment are
many—opening grooming parlors, mobile grooming, retail
outlets online, and bricks-and-mortar, working within large
and small companies, working in finance or on the road as a
salesperson. It’s a large and welcoming industry, but there
is no shortcut to any of this or success. Without hard work,
and if luck is not on your side, then the road is steeper.
What advice do you have for women who are just getting started and
aspire to be innovators and leaders in the pet industry?
Keep your head down and work hard; there is simply no
shortcut. Follow your gut and have courage in your convictions, but be willing to admit when you are wrong and always remain agile, an eternal student, and willing to accept
offers of help and advice from all around you in and out of
the workplace. Smile, look around you, and, as Confucius
said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to
work a day in your life.”
like a sigh of relief. It was so refreshing
to be focused on pets—an industry that
had both white space and opportunity, as
well as a sense of humor. It’s true that the
pet industry tends to attract people who
are down to earth, honest and truly about
doing the right thing for the customer.
I’ve always been impressed too with the
industry’s propensity to take risks. People
are willing to do anything to pamper their
Do you think women bring unique perspectives and
ideas to the table?
Mission Pets has always been a company
that values women in leadership roles. I
do think that our success has been tied to
our ability to see white space and help customers understand what they need before
they even know they need it. As women,
we also embraced building Mission Pets
as though it was our “baby”—in fact, I delayed having kids until the company was
I also want to note how amazing my
female peers in the industry are. There is a
sisterhood that we share—and it can be with
everyone from buyers to competitors. We
look out for each other.
Many on my staff have been with me for
many, many years. I think that roll-up-your-sleeves, scrappy approach to how we built
our business truly became a bonding experience. I think that being a woman allows me
to look after my staff in a caring, nurturing
way that you might not get in a male-dominated environment. We all came up together, take the hits together and celebrate the
successes together. That united mentality
truly makes Mission Pets a rewarding place
to work and creates a strong sense of loyalty
in the organization.
What challenges and opportunities does the pet
industry present for women?
I try to interpret the challenges as an opportunity. The industry can definitely feel like a
“boys club” sometimes—but particularly in
my categories, I use that to my advantage.
You don’t know about trend and fashion?
No problem, mister. I got you. Running a
fashion business in a largely consumable
category can be intimidating, but I have
skinned my knees along the way so the buyers don’t have to. Approaching the situation
with confidence and e;perience makes all
Carina Evans, CEO of Podium Pet Products in Lake Worth, Fla.
“There is a sisterhood
that we share—
and it can be with
everyone from buyers
to competitors. We
look out for each