AUSTIN, TEXAS — Pet supplements are expensive and, nevertheless, growing more and more popular among today’s pet parents. Nana Pfeifer, co-founder of Homescape Pets, is leveraging her passion for pets and marketing background to tap into the trend toward pet wellness while keeping affordability at the forefront. But for Pfeifer, keeping her business and her customers’ furry companions healthy and thriving is only one part of her formula for success. As the first Black woman pet supplement brand owner, she also hopes to inspire and advocate for other emerging minority- and BIPOC-led businesses.
“Having more representation and diversity in the pet industry is sorely needed,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to be a resource for up-and-coming minorities in the pet industry who are just getting started or who want to connect.”
In the following Q&A, Pfeifer details her entrance to the pet industry, the value of building transparency and community, and why “less is more” when it comes to her brand’s supplement formulations.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Pfeifer: Launched on Amazon in 2018 and on our website in 2019, Homescape Pets creates supplements and chews that support wellness and healing from some of the most common health issues dogs and cats face: anxiety, inflammation, mobility, and dental disease. We are deeply rooted in holistic pet wellness — caring for the whole animal and acknowledging not only their physical health needs but their mental and social needs as well.
We launched with just one herbal tincture formulated to help relieve discomfort and inflammation. We have since expanded our offerings to five supplement SKUs serving a variety of wellness needs, including a CBD oil and a unique joint powder with CBDA [cannabidiolic acid]. We also offer a wide variety of functional chews and treats.
The pandemic saw a significant increase in pet ownership and, with it, more attention on natural supplements and healthier food. As a result, we’ve experienced exciting growth and a push for our products to be sold in retailers. That’s coming this year.
We believe in the adage “Less is More” and, with that in mind, we use three or fewer ingredients in our supplements and we only use the highest quality organic whole herbs and oils. Our line of Simply Natural Chews is single-ingredient, real meat, and slow- and low-temperature dried to retain the maximum nutrients. You won’t see preservatives, artificial flavors, or unrecognizable ingredients in any of our products. Pets and their parents deserve better.
By creating easy-to-understand and simple-to-administer supplements, we aim to help prevent some of the most common pet ailments before they begin. Our goal at Homescape Pets is to offer safe and effective supplements and provide relatable education that empowers pet parents to improve the lives of their pets. Every pet parent deserves to be the hero of their pet’s life and wellbeing.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?
Pfeifer: Prior to starting Homescape Pets, I spent more than 20 years in both hospitality marketing and the beauty industry, both of which are pretty far removed from the pet space.
I entered the pet industry after my own dog, Beau, became ill and I began looking for simple, clean products to help her enjoy her remaining time. What was most important was finding effective supplements and foods with very few ingredients. I needed nutrition and wellness solutions that wouldn’t negatively interact with her medical protocol. But more than that, I needed options that would help her thrive.
Most of the food and supplements I found had preservatives, nebulous “natural” flavorings, and carb-heavy fillers. Worse yet, the options I found that were acceptable were also inordinately expensive. So, when I ultimately couldn't find the better, healthier, more affordable options I was looking for, I began to create them.
Working with an integrative veterinarian and diving deep into canine nutrition led me to create a line of supplements with three or fewer ingredients and to recently introduce a line of single-ingredient chews. Homescape Pets is Beau’s legacy.
PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?
Pfeifer: The biggest challenge has been getting the market to accept and understand pet supplements. Many of us are just barely understanding them for our own health. Pets are even farther removed. We are conditioned to think of supplements as “hippie-like” or snake oil, when nothing could be further from the truth. They’re effective, safe and affordable. Getting that message out has been a challenge.
For that, we have to thank our amazing customers for their support and trust. They’ve shared their own stories of how Homescape supplements have improved the lives of their pets. They’ve also reached out to retailers to ask for our products. Our customers have been our greatest advocates and cheerleaders.
PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Pfeifer: An exciting moment was winning the “Most Innovative Natural Pet Supplement” for our Mussel Mobility joint powder in the 2021 Lux Life Awards. We were nominated by both our peers and customers. This lets us know that pet parents are seeking more holistic and novel solutions for their fur families, and we are thrilled to be a part of this shift.
Another thing that is not necessarily an accomplishment but that I’m incredibly proud of is that Homescape Pets is the first Black woman-owned pet supplement brand. Having more representation and diversity in the pet industry is sorely needed. I’m excited to be able to be a resource for up-and-coming minorities in the pet industry who are just getting started or who want to connect.
PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?
Pfeifer: Being a small brand with a very small team of two, almost everything is top of mind for us. Right now, our main focus is expanding Homescape into local retailers here in Austin, Texas. From there, we look forward to growing into larger retail markets.
PFP: If you could pick three trends influencing the industry today, which are the most important and why?
Pfeifer: Natural ingredients, brand transparency and community.
Pet parents are increasingly seeking out more natural and clean health options. Not all pets have the same wellness needs, so the traditional one-size-fits-all kibble is doing pets a disservice. Pet owners have become more knowledgeable about their specific pet’s nutritional and lifestyle needs and are opting for more limited-ingredient, human-grade, raw, and gently cooked options than ever before. Our hope is that the increased interest in natural products isn’t just a trend but instead becomes the norm.
The desire for more natural products also requires brands to be more transparent and honest about their sourcing, processing and testing. Pet parents now expect to be able to head to a website or social media page and find out what’s happening behind the scenes of their favorite pet brands. And we should be happy to provide that info.
“Our hope is that the increased interest in natural products isn’t just a trend but instead becomes the norm,” said Nana Pfeifer, Homescape Pets.
Pets are our family members. We’re seeing an increase in their humanization, from birthday and “gotcha-day” parties to pet clothing lines to human-grade meals. With that comes a desire to connect with the brands that you’re entrusting with your pet, in addition to connecting with like-minded pet parents. I expect that we’ll see many more brands creating pet communities built around their products. These types of pet communities have strength, staying power, and lead the charge when it comes to referrals and brand growth.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?
Pfeifer: People outside the pet industry often underestimate how important pets are to our lives. There have been numerous studies showing how petting a dog or cat can reduce stress within minutes or how having a dog can help manage depression. They are our running partners, keepers of our secrets, and they love us unconditionally. Keeping them healthy and happy is vital to our own happiness.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Pfeifer: Find your single path and walk straight ahead. It’s easy to get sidetracked by new trends or offerings. Stay your course, not anyone else’s. Also, find your community even if it’s not within the pet industry. Having a group of supporters goes a long way toward keeping you motivated and successful.
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.
Pfeifer: I’m a dog mom through and through. Beau was our first dog, and we now have two other dogs, Quinn (a hound) and Minnie (a miniature schnauzer). Cats are wonderful, but I prefer the activity and engagement of dogs.
Fun fact: In addition to starting Homescape Pets in memory of Beau, she’s also the schnauzer featured in our logo. She’s always a part of the landscape, or homescape, of our lives no matter where we are.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Pfeifer: Make connections. From connecting with fellow women in the pet space to connecting with your die-hard customers, it’s vital that we have a supportive community. Make space for yourself. Join the male-dominated arenas and be heard. The pet industry is relatively small and the number of women in the industry is even smaller. We have to push to be seen and heard.
Nana Pfeifer is the co-founder of Homescape Pets, a natural pet supplement company taking a limited-ingredient approach to affordable, supplementary nutrition. Pfeifer started Homescape Pets in 2017 following stints in the hospitality and beauty industries. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus on marketing from Georgia State University.
Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.