DEL MAR, CALIF. — In September 2022, a new pet nutrition brand came on the scene to drive home the concept of dog and cat nutrition as food, not feed. Rebecca Frechette Rudisch, founder and chief executive officer of Yummers, established the brand alongside “Queer Eye” stars Antoni Porowski and Jonathan Van Ness, combining their collective passion for pets with her more than 30 years of CPG expertise to develop best-in-class nutrition for four-legged family members across the United States.
“I love how engaged and aspirational pet parents are when it comes to bettering the lives of their pets, and I’ve long believed that this desire is still somewhat unfulfilled,” she said.
In the following Q&A, Frechette Rudisch explains how her brand addresses three key trends driving the industry forward, describes how her career path led her back to the pet sector, and shares advice for other women leaders.
PFP: Tell us about your business or career in the pet industry.
Frechette Rudisch: Being in the retail and consumer industry for over 25 years, I have had a hand in nearly every category during my time as a merchant with Target, 7-eleven, Petco and HEB — from food and beverage, to healthcare, beauty, toys, entertainment, housewares and, of course, pet.
The pet industry has been, by far, the most rewarding. I love how engaged and aspirational pet parents are when it comes to bettering the lives of their pets, and I’ve long believed that this desire is still somewhat unfulfilled. Having found two incredible partners in Jonathan and Antoni, Yummers was created to help pet parents give their pets their most extraordinary life.
PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?
Frechette Rudisch: I was recruited to be chief merchant for Petco, which immersed me in this wonderful industry. I learned about every aspect of the business. I also spent a great deal of time learning about pet parents and experienced firsthand the incredible passion they have for their pets. I was immediately inspired and, ever since, have dedicated myself to creating products that make pets’ lives extraordinary.
PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.
Frechette Rudisch: My greatest source of energy is my team and the people I work with, and my greatest accomplishment is seeing many of my team members become incredible leaders in this industry — so many of them among the most influential leaders in the pet industry and beyond.
PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?
Frechette Rudisch: We are in rapid expansion mode. After months and months of product development, we just recently launched an incredibly innovative dog food line that’s really carving out an entirely new space in between kibble and fresh. We’re also expanding into neighborhood pet and growing our retail network.
We have an incredible product and a brand that speaks to the pet parents of today. Additionally, our co-founders, Jonathan and Antoni, are inspirational and exceptional ambassadors for our brand. As we continue to build on this momentum, we’re excited to introduce Yummers to even more pet parents.
PFP: If you could pick three trends influencing the industry today, which are the most important and why?
Frechette Rudisch: Pets ARE children — there’s been a paradigm shift from pet ownership to pet parenthood. Pets are now considered a member of the family and, with that, comes highly engaged consumers who are willing to seek out the best-of-the-best products for their beloved pets.
Health and wellness — I have two passions: pets, and health and wellness. I see a huge convergence right now. While “humanization” is not necessarily anything new to the industry, the application of things like nutritional supplementation, preventive health and minimally processed diets are taking off in the pet space more than ever and catching up to human trends quicker than ever.
Social and emotional bond — When our pets feel good, we feel good. The human-animal bond underscores the connections that drive this industry forward, making high-quality pet products essential to our emotional fulfillment as pet parents.
PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?
Frechette Rudisch: How much rigor goes into creating safe and effective products. Every species has unique needs and individual pets have vastly different health, wellness and behavioral differences. Creating pet products is incredibly complex and also extremely rewarding.
PFP: What advice would you give to young people starting their careers in this industry?
Frechette Rudisch: Never be afraid to try something new. You never know what door might open if you take on a new challenge or risk — so go for it. My path has wound around a lot, and I am now using every experience.
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.
Frechette Rudisch: I love cats and dogs, but sadly have a bit of an allergy to cats. Our son is Will the Goldendoodle. He has an exceptional life, and we are excited to one day welcome a dog brother for him.
PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry?
Frechette Rudisch: If you have a dream, go after it. Don’t overthink “the right thing” and follow your heart.
Rebecca Frechette Rudisch’s CPG experience is vast, spanning retail, snacks and beverages, electronics and entertainment, private-label brands and pet products. She currently sits on the board of Pet Honesty, another pet nutrition brand, and SmartSweets, a low-sugar candy brand. She previously served on Petco’s Foundation Board from 2017 to 2018, as well as the board of directors at Outward Hound from 2018 to 2019. Frechette Rudisch earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Purdue University.
Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.