SAN FRANCISCO — Maria Peevey’s career was forever changed when she became a dog mom to a Golden Retriever puppy. With an eye for gaps in the CPG market, she used her marketing know-how and brand-building prowess to develop a new brand in the pet apparel and accessory space, which was so successful that it was bought by a private equity years later. Today, Peevey continues to share her skillset with CPG innovators, the latest of which is canine longevity supplement company  Arterra Pet Science.

“The focus on pet wellness and longevity is more significant than ever,” she told Pet Food Processing. “Pet owners are increasingly aware of the benefits of high-quality nutrition and supplements and the importance of preventive health care.”

In the following Q&A, Peevey shares her pet industry origin story and details the top trends expected to influence innovative disruption in this space.


PFP: How did you get your start in the pet industry, and how did that experience lead you to where you are now?

Peevey: My start in the pet industry was both personal and entrepreneurial. It began when I got a Golden Retriever puppy and realized I wanted stylish and functional lifestyle products for her. However, these items were only available in high-end boutiques and were very expensive. I saw an opportunity — no one had developed this category for the mass market.

Additionally, I had just written a book about my pup called “SimplyDog,” and the idea of cross-marketing the book with a line of coordinated lifestyle products made perfect sense for expanding the product line and building a larger brand.

From this realization, SimplyShe Pet (now known as Mission Pets) was born and quickly grew to become the largest pet lifestyle provider in the United States at the time. My initial retail partnerships were key to scaling and building a robust product assortment. This included becoming the category partner to Walmart, where we launched SimplyShe Pet in every US-based store, utilizing 16 feet of branded aisle space.

We rapidly expanded, designed, manufactured  and distributed high-quality, trend-driven and functional pet lifestyle products, and also introduced cat and small animal products with other major retailers. A significant achievement during this time was facilitating the transition into private equity ownership, which allowed us to scale quickly  and secure pivotal partnerships. We entered international markets , reaching  Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

Building SimplyShe Pet taught me invaluable lessons in innovation, strategic vision and market adaptation. It highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships, allowing us to expand our market presence across various channels, from pet specialty to mass-market to off-price retailers, both domestically and internationally.

The bond between pet parents and their pets runs deep — they are truly family members. There is nothing a pet parent won’t do or purchase to make their pet’s life happier, healthier or better in some way. This core human-pet bond has only grown stronger over time, driving continuous opportunities and innovation. This insight continues to guide my efforts and passion in the pet industry, allowing me to stay at the forefront of creating products and strategies that enhance the lives of pets and their families.


PFP: What has been your biggest challenge — personal or professional — related to your work in the pet industry?

Peevey: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in my work in the pet industry was building products in a category that didn’t exist before. Trailblazing without a product roadmap, merchandising plan or proven strategy for growth and scale required a lot of vision and determination. At SimplyShe Pet, I had to rely on my innate understanding of the consumer landscape and the category’s growth potential. Building strong retail partnerships was crucial, as these relationships allowed us to grow and become indispensable in the market.

This challenge was multifaceted. Firstly, continual innovation was essential. The demand for new products and designs was constant, requiring fresh thinking and creative approaches. We had to stay ahead of trend curves, often creating them ourselves to ensure we remained leaders in the industry.

“Remember, there’s always a way forward. Trust your gut, dig deep into your own reserves, and know that your determination and passion will pave the way for success,” said Maria Peevey, Arterra Pet Science.

Secondly, staying ahead of the competition was a constant struggle. As soon as our innovative designs and approaches gained traction, competitors began to copy them. This meant we had to be even more vigilant and proactive, ensuring our products were not just following trends but setting them.

Thirdly, finding and maintaining the right manufacturing partners was critical. As our product line grew, we had to evolve our partner base and find new ways to keep costs down while maintaining high quality. This was essential for building and maintaining healthy profit margins.

Lastly, securing funding to support our growth objectives was a significant hurdle. As a young business, we initially self-funded with help from friends and family. However, reaching the next level required solidifying proper financial backing, which was challenging. Fortunately, some of our core retail partnerships played a crucial role in supporting us during this phase.


PFP: Tell me about a professional accomplishment in the pet industry that you are proud of.

Peevey: I am particularly proud of the successful growth and acquisition of SimplyShe Pet. In a short span, we hit key revenue targets that made us an attractive acquisition for private equity. With this capital, we expanded SimplyShe Pet into a leading player in the pet lifestyle market, securing additional retail partnerships, building new offerings and expanding our presence internationally. This achievement not only highlighted our team’s dedication but also solidified our brand as an industry leader, enhancing the lives of pets and pet owners alike.


PFP: What is top of mind for you and/or your business in the industry right now?

Peevey: As the CMO of Arterra, I'm laser-focused on three key areas: building consumer awareness, perfecting our brand presence, and driving explosive growth.

First, we’re passionate about educating pet owners on the importance of wellness and longevity for their pets. It’s vital to show that supporting pets from adulthood into their senior years can be both easy and effective. We want to enlighten pet owners about how preventive healthcare can dramatically extend their pets’ lives.

Next, we're positioning Arterra as the go-to choice for dog supplements in a market crowded with mediocre options. We highlight the unmatched efficacy and potency of our products, ensuring pet owners recognize that Arterra offers the best support for their pets’ health and longevity.

Finally, we’re all about delivering innovative pet wellness and longevity solutions that genuinely enhance pets’ health and lifespan. Our aggressive growth strategy focuses on strategic initiatives that amplify our market presence, fortify our sales channels, and cement our leadership in the industry.


PFP: If you could pick three trends influencing the industry today, which are the most important and why?

Peevey: Pet Wellness and Longevity: The focus on pet wellness and longevity is more significant than ever. Pet owners are increasingly aware of the benefits of high-quality nutrition and supplements and the importance of preventive healthcare. This trend stems from a desire to extend the lifespan and enhance the quality of life for pets. At Arterra, we are driving this movement by offering innovative and effective supplements that support long-term health and wellness. We are also committed to educating consumers on proactive care strategies to ensure pets lead healthier, longer lives.

Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing: Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their purchases, including pet products. This has led to a growing demand for sustainably sourced, natural-based ingredients and eco-friendly packaging. This trend reflects a broader movement toward responsible consumption and highlights the necessity for companies to adopt sustainable practices. Arterra is committed to working with responsible, natural, and sustainable sourcing solutions to meet this demand and reduce our environmental footprint.

Science-Backed Efficacy: As consumers increasingly demand proof that pet supplements and health-based nutrition products work, they are seeking scientifically validated options. At Arterra, we leverage the 'entourage effect,' combining diverse compounds for maximum impact across multiple systems. Our 63-ingredient formula offers comprehensive support, outperforming competitors in quality and dosage.

By prioritizing potent sources like fruiting bodies in functional mushrooms, we ensure superior bioavailability and health benefits. Cutting-edge ingredients, such as MIT-developed magnesium, highlight our commitment to innovation. For example, while the top-selling hip and joint supplement has just three active ingredients, Arterra’s joint formula includes 11 powerful ingredients at higher doses.


PFP: What is something about the pet industry that people outside of the industry may not realize?

Peevey: What sets the pet industry apart is its unwavering dedication to innovation and improving pets’ lives. The bond between pet owners and their pets is powerful; we want them to be by our side for as long as possible. Pet owners are committed to anything that enhances their pets’ happiness, health and longevity.

This passion drives the industry’s common goal of creating thoughtful products and brands that enhance the lives of pets and their parents. The development of these products involves extensive scientific research and collaboration with veterinary experts to ensure they are both effective and safe for pets at all life stages.

The collective effort in the pet industry is all about making a positive impact on the health and happiness of pets. This shared dedication to enhancing pets’ lives is what truly sets the pet industry apart.


PFP: What advice would you give to other women in this industry?

Peevey: One piece of advice I always give is to start networking early. Identify your core area of interest within the pet industry and begin building relationships with key groups and individuals. These connections can provide invaluable insights and open doors as you progress in your career. When I started out, those early connections were instrumental in guiding my path.

Staying adaptable is also crucial. The pet industry is constantly evolving with new trends and innovations. What you initially envision may change, and that’s perfectly fine. Embracing change can lead to greater success if you remain open to it. In my experience, being flexible allowed me to pivot and seize new opportunities that I hadn’t initially considered.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential. It’s easy to get consumed by work, especially in a passionate field like ours. Make time for activities that help you relax and recharge. This will keep your passion alive and prevent burnout. Personally, I’ve found that spending time with my own pets helps me stay grounded and focused.

Lastly, expect challenges and setbacks — they are part of the journey. Stay resilient and keep pushing forward. Your dedication and flexibility will set you apart and drive your success in the pet industry. I’ve faced many obstacles, but perseverance and a positive attitude have always helped me navigate through tough times.

Maria Peevey's pup

Peevey's English Cream Golden Retriever, Lani.

| Source: Maria Peevey

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. 

Peevey: I am definitely a dog person, though I love all animals. Golden Retrievers hold a special place in my heart, and I have been fortunate to have three in my life. Tragically, my first two Goldens passed away from cancer before the age of seven, which was heartbreaking and fueled my passion for pet longevity.

Currently, I have a 2-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever named Lani. She is an absolute joy and fills my life with happiness. To keep her healthy and ensure she lives a long life, Lani receives Arterra every day. Her wellbeing is my top priority, and I am dedicated to providing her with the best preventive care possible.


PFP: Any final advice for other women in the pet industry? 

Peevey: Remain tenacious, even when facing challenging situations that seem insurmountable. It takes courage to follow your instincts, but they often guide you to the right decisions when you’re unsure. Be your own cheerleader, especially when building a new category in the pet industry or developing an innovative product. It isn’t easy, and there will be times when you must root for yourself and believe in your vision, even when no one else does.

I can’t count the number of times people told me SimplyShe Pet would never work or how many situations seemed impossible to overcome. Yet, I never gave up, even in the darkest times. That grit is what got me through and turned potential failure into success. Remember, there’s always a way forward. Trust your gut, dig deep into your own reserves, and know that your determination and passion will pave the way for success.

Keep pushing forward and take pride in your journey. Your unique perspective and resilience are your greatest assets. Embrace them, and you’ll continue to make a significant impact in the pet industry.

Maria Peevey kickstarted her career in marketing roles before founding SimplyShe Pet, a pet lifestyle brand offering fashion-forward and effective pet apparel and accessories, in 1999. The successful brand was acquired by a private equity in 2005 and went on to become Mission Pets. In 2016, Peevey founded another apparel brand, The Reset, this time for women, which was later sold through a strategic acquisition in 2023. After successfully establishing, scaling and selling two original businesses, Peevey decided to begin leveraging her entrepreneurial know-how to support other brands. She currently serves as brand and marketing advisor for JOBI Brands’ Oh Norman portfolio alongside her role as chief marketing officer of Arterra Pet Science. Peevey earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a minor in marketing from the University of California ─ San Diego.

Continue reading about other female leaders featured in our Women in the Pet Industry series.