ORLANDO, FLA. — Yvethe Tyszka was a cat mom before she was a pet industry professional, an experience that made a lasting impression on her understanding of and dedication to pet health and wellness. Through her extensive background in marketing and brand management, she has emerged as a resourceful team builder and advocate for the power of functional nutrition.
Tyszka is currently the vice president of marketing at H&H Group North America, whose international parent company acquired Zesty Paws in August 2021 and integrated the brand with Solid Gold Pet, which it acquired in November 2020. She is hard at work for both brands as they seek to deliver high-quality, functional nutritional solutions for dogs and cats.
“From digestion to behavioral support, pet parents are looking to add intentionality to their purchases and have a purpose for what they are feeding to their furry family members,” she said.
In the following Q&A, Tyszka recounts her pet industry roots and current omnichannel focus, how she built a best-in-class team in the face of a pandemic, and where she believes the industry is heading.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Tyszka: My career in the pet industry began a few years ago when I joined Zesty Paws, our award-winning functional pet supplement brand, back in 2020. While I have over 20 years of marketing experience, managing innovation and product development across numerous categories, as a pet parent myself, entering the pet industry was a special milestone for me.
As the global marketing lead for Zesty Paws and Solid Gold Pet, it’s been thrilling to see the incredible growth the pet industry has experienced over the last few years and to be a part of leading it to the next frontier. When Zesty Paws was acquired by H&H Group in 2021, the company merged to include Solid Gold Pet, a proven pioneer in craveable holistic nourishment for pets.
Since then, and alongside our best-in-class team, we expanded distribution to meet the needs of omni-shoppers that want their favorite brands to be everywhere they shop. This omnichannel mantra has allowed us to reach more pet parents with both brands.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?
Tyszka: I started as a cat mom of the first pet I ever had in my life: my cat Puppy. As he aged, I began searching for different options for food and supplements that could support his golden years with better health and wellness. That insight drew me to Zesty Paws and, once I met the team, I was fully on board with the vision, company culture and mission, and so began the professional side of my adventure into the pet category. Although Puppy passed after 17-and-a-half years, his impact on my life — personal and professional — is still with me every day.
PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?
Tyszka: Professionally, when the H&H Group merger began, there were challenges to overcome, but it was amazing to see the team quickly and easily become “One Big Team” anchored in a passion for pets and helping pet parents. Creating the synergy between two different teams all while working remotely and building trust within a new culture was a new and interesting journey, but it was so encouraging to see how the two brands came together and identified new opportunities for growth, all while providing the best customer care and products for pet parents.
PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Tyszka: The biggest accomplishment I’ve enjoyed in the pet industry was being able to put together a best-in-class team of high-caliber professionals that have propelled our pet brands to the next level. Our hybrid/remote work environment allowed us to assemble the best talent in each area, regardless of where they live or work from, with a great mix of Zesty Paws and Solid Gold veterans and new amazing additions.
“Our hybrid/remote work environment allowed us to assemble the best talent in each area, regardless of where they live or work from, with a great mix of Zesty Paws and Solid Gold veterans and new amazing additions,” Tyszka said.
On the product and brand side, within my first year at Zesty Paws, we achieved double-digit growth and debuted the brand’s first television commercial in January 2021. The premium marketing strategy and brand trust built through digital vehicles cemented our expansion to all PetSmart and Target stores and gained us additional distribution at retailers like Costco.com and Walmart, as well as sustained growth at Amazon, Chewy and our own website. We are now working on replicating that success with the Solid Gold line of pet food.
PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?
Tyszka: At Zesty Paws, we strive to be the most innovative and trusted brand in functional supplements that guide and empower pet parents on their pet’s wellness journey. Our vision is to be recognized as the world’s leading health and wellness brand for dogs and cats, driven by consumer-focused innovation.
In the natural pet food space, there are tremendous opportunities to propel the growth of Solid Gold, centered in gut health. We look at our pet’s nutrition the way we look at ours, with an eye for beneficial, natural ingredients that offer nourishment and craveable taste. We are excited for our upcoming product launches for both dog and cat, powered by our proprietary blend Nutrientboost™.
PFP: If you could pick three trends influencing the industry today, which are the most important and why?
Tyszka: I’d start with the growing acceptance of CBD and hemp in pet food and health products. As consumers are becoming more familiar with the benefits of CBD and hemp in human supplements and foods, they are more open to trying these ingredients with their pets. Our existing CBD Chews for dogs and newly launched CBD cat supplements from Zesty Paws start to answer the demand for CBD pet products.
Another shift we’re seeing within the industry is the growing idea that pet food, treats, supplements, and even toys should serve a purpose for a pet and not just be a filler. From digestion to behavioral support, pet parents are looking to add intentionality to their purchases and have a purpose for what they are feeding to their furry family members.
Lastly, advances in positive impact for communities and environments have shaped the sustainability industry. We are seeing more and more energy being put into finding lasting solutions to shape our future. New collaboration with manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, brands and retailers are leveraging existing sustainability knowledge and experience as well as innovative solutions. The trends that are taking shape in products and packaging for humans — like the introduction and application of new proteins like insects and plant-based alternatives to debuting bamboo, eco-friendly packaging — are also taking shape in the pet world.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?
Tyszka: In the United States, pet food is better regulated than most pet parents imagine and must meet federal and state requirements. Led by 20-year experts at the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), the pet supplement industry enjoys robust oversight and commitment to high standards of quality that its members (including Zesty Paws) have pledged to.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Tyszka: A piece of advice that greatly impacted me in my early years, and that I give to young professionals starting their careers, is to be teachable and seek the mentorship of others. Learning opportunities are everywhere: with your boss, with your peers, with other departments, with those that report to you, and even your competitors. Always be open to learning and take to heart the famous saying: “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room!”
PFP: Just for fun, do you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person? Or, if you have pets of your own, tell us a little bit about them.
Tyszka: Since my first pet ever was my cat, Puppy, I am a cat mom at heart! But I love dogs and enjoy them when they visit us at our Orlando headquarters office, where we always have a treat or two for them.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Tyszka: My advice is to leverage the strength of empathy. I love Brené Brown’s talk on the future of leadership: “What we won’t replace, no matter how great the algorithm is, is what makes us uniquely human: courage, connection, and empathy.” Women are uniquely equipped to bring soft skills to leadership roles, so we can inspire a new generation to lead with courage and passion.
Yvethe Tyszka has an extensive background in marketing and brand management, including roles with Nestlé’s Nescafe business, Keurig, Spectrum Brands and Newell Brands. She has served as vice president of marketing at Zesty Paws since July 2020, a role which extended to Solid Gold Pet when the two companies were merged under H&H Group. Tyszka is currently an official member of the Forbes Communications Council. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing and public relations from the Andrés Bello Catholic University (Universidad Católica Andrés Bello), followed by a marketing management certificate from Harvard University.
Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.