I and love and you pet food: Success from human-pet bond

Independent pet food company, I and love and you, has built its brand, business and culture on humanization and a celebration of the human-pet bond.

For CEO Beau Mainous (here with his dogs, front to back, Miley, Bailey and Marley) and his team at I and love and you pet food, pets are people, too. l (Courtesy I and love and you)
For CEO Beau Mainous (here with his dogs, front to back, Miley, Bailey and Marley) and his team at I and love and you pet food, pets are people, too. l (Courtesy I and love and you)

Today’s pet food industry revolves around humanization and the human-animal bond, but one company takes that to the next level. “We celebrate the incredible bond between human and pet; it’s why we’re called ‘I and love and you,’” says Beau Mainous, CEO. “We believe one of our biggest opportunities is the power of humanizing our pets. Pets are people, too!”

Indeed, Mainous credits this mind-set to his company’s success and ability to stand out from the competition. “We take a very different approach with our pets and how we think, love and care for them,” he says. “The best love is the best food, and the best food should be available to all furry friends: small and large, purebred and mixed, stray and rescue.

“We are pet parents, too – the type who match outfits with them, give them social media accounts, talk in their voices to bring their personalities to life, give up our beds to them, and it’s all because love is rooted in everything we do. The fact that we view our pets as our equals is the entire foundation of our company.”

Independent, employee owned, founded on passion

I and love and you was founded in 2012 in Boulder, Colorado, USA. “We started small in a pet food store in Boulder, creating raw food for pets before real, whole, healthy pet food was a thing,” he says. He and his team soon realized there were other owners seeking pet food with real meat and real ingredients. “It became our passion to make truly high-quality pet food accessible for all.”

Still independent and employee owned, today the company markets an entire array of dog and cat food, including dry, wet, raw, chews, treats and meal enhancers, under the Naked Essentials, Lovingly Simple, Nude Food, Stir & Boom, Puppy and Cat Cans lines. Its newest products include Baked & Saucy, a line of dog kibble baked in small batches and featuring farm-raised meats and a savory both bone coating. “If your dog prefers his/her meals fancy, simply add water to create a rich and delicious bone broth gravy,” Mainous says. “We also added prebiotics and probiotics to keep dogs’ tummies happy.”

iandloveandyou-baked-saucy-line

One of I and love and you’s newest product lines, Baked & Saucy offers dogs a kibble baked in small batches and featuring farm-raised meats and a savory both bone coating. l Courtesy I and love and you

Other new product lines, Top That for dogs and Free Meow for cats, are meal enhancers created to “bring an added boost of superfoods to add variety to mealtime,” he says, adding that all of the company’s products have been approved by a holistic veterinarian and include an optimal combination of whole-food nutrition, freshness and premium ingredients. “We strive to produce foods that we know pets will enjoy and get excited about.”

Continuing growth, maintaining culture

Thanks to this ongoing product development and striving to meet pet and pet parent needs, I and love and you is poised for “explosive” growth in 2020, Mainous says. “We’re continually working to increase distribution and accessibility in the next year and beyond.” That includes building relationships with distributors and partnerships with Amazon and natural retailers.

He also attributes the growth to a focus on the community the company has built over the last several years, connecting directly with pet parents on its highly active social media platforms.

“We feel this is a huge opportunity to connect with broader audiences,” Mainous explains. “People check their social media every single day, so we keep those conversations ongoing with the community we serve. We’re also tapping into more consumer insights through nationwide surveys so we can have a better understanding of our community and what they look for. This year, we partnered with a data company that gave us interesting data on pet parents: One third say their pet is their favorite child, but to us, that was no surprise!”

As I and love and you has added retail partners, products, customers and employees, Mainous acknowledges it can be challenging to stay committed and true to the company’s roots while growing at such a rapid pace. “Growth is amazing and we’re super proud of what we’re doing at I and love and you, but staying true to our original company culture from when we first started can be a challenge when we scale,” he says. “However, that culture is in our DNA and we certainly don’t focus on getting lost in the numbers.”

Independent brands, premium pet foods for a broader audience

To maintain its culture while expanding, I and love and you is focusing on the next generation of pet parents and their values, Mainous says, which is one of the reasons the company is tapping into consumer data insights. And, as part of its DNA and commitment to humanization, he believes one of I and love and you’s largest opportunities lies in celebrating pets’ individual personalities.

To Mainous, this aligns with where the pet food industry overall is headed. “The voice for the independent brand is stronger than ever. People want authenticity and transparency, which is why I and love and you has been so successful all these years,” he says. “I see a rise in independent companies because you have more freedom for innovation and ownership over not only the product, but also the message you’re providing your customers.”

That freedom also applies to pricing of products. “We are constantly striving to make premium options more accessible to a much broader audience,” Mainous adds. “Our prices reflect our values of ensuring our fur children are fed the right foods at the right costs and are kept healthy and happy.”

And this, too, represents another direction for the pet food market in general. “I anticipate higher-quality nutrition prices going down as these options are becoming more easily accessible for the average consumer,” Mainous explains. “It takes time, but pet nutrition will become an integral part of pet parents nationwide. It’s going to become broader as more people demand real food with real, quality ingredients for their fur children.”

 

Fast Facts

iandloveandyou-logo

Notable: The company has 25 employees with 36 pets. It’s poised to grow more than 50% over the next 24 months and was named to the Inc. 5000 list. It will donate its 1 millionth meal (and counting) to nationwide pet shelters in 2020.

Headquarters: Boulder, Colorado, USA

Officer: Beau Mainous, CEO

Brand: I and love and you

Website/Social Media:

www.iandloveandyou.com

www.instagram.com/iandloveandyoupet

www.facebook.com/iandloveandyoupet

www.twitter.com/ILYPET

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