By Kate Ferguson
Dope Dog was founded by Erin Mastropietro and Michael Benatar out of a desire to offer holistically care for their own pets. After working on blending hemp oil into baked goods that dogs would actually enjoy, it quickly became obvious that they were onto something.
The aptly named Dope Dog was born! I spoke to them about the process of launching their business, as well as what goes into the process of making those tasty treats.
Tell me how this all got started and the connection to your own pets.
Michael adopted James in 2011 (now 8 years old). James struggled with knee problems and ended up having 2 ALC surgeries. He was on many meds post-surgery to deal with pain and inflammation. We started supplementing with CBD as soon as we discovered that its benefits translated to pets. He is now med free and pain-free!
We started iterating ideas for Dope Dog last summer (June 2017). During that time, Erin had a fortuitous event happen which allowed her extra free time to explore new opportunities. We were super inspired by the potential of CBD for pets and determined to make something of it!
I love the name.
We went through probably 5 iterations before coming up with Dope Dog. Michael has a thing for domain names, so let’s just say we purchased QUITE a few domains before landing on Dope.dog. Sidenote: We also purchased dope.cat with plans to expand to the feline market.
You’re actually making tasty products in addition to the fact that they’re healthy. (I’ve tasted them.)
100%. We know our dogs won’t eat sh*tty treats and we wouldn’t expect any other dogs to! The ingredient list on our treats is only 6 items long. Our peanut butter flavor smells delicious and humans actually enjoy smelling and eating them!
Tell me about an average day.
Nothing happens until our pups are walked and we’ve both had our bulletproof coffees. =)
Usually, we’ll start the week with a touch base meeting to revisit our monthly goals and get action items for the week. Mornings usually consist of outreach and lately quite a bit of product development. In the afternoons we handle operations and visit any stores, as needed.
Honestly, though, every day is a roller coaster. Some days we get new deals and others we think it’s all over. It’s a crazy time, and we love it.
And the products are all made in small batches?
Our New York-based baker Laura has such an inspiring story. She had a high-stress job in engineering and after a mild heart attack, decided that lifestyle just wasn’t worth it.
Using her existing skills and love for dogs, she turned a hobby into her own business and never looked back! We source only THE best natural ingredients from the US. She develops all of Dope Dog’s exclusive recipes.
Anything cool you’ve learned along the way? (So far.)
We learn something new every single day. Owning and operating your own business is definitely a roller coaster – but always worth it! One simple thing that we learned works really well is to take our customer feedback and use it as a compass for future decisions and actions.
Because of the nature of our product, we do interact quite a bit with our customers, whether it is a question they have about which item to purchase, dosing questions, or a success story after months of use. We individually reply to each customer and apply their feedback to whatever it is that we are working on so we are constantly improving and innovating in a way that is relevant to our audience.
What you were doing before Dope Dog?
Erin: Most of my career has been in sales and retail. After 10+ years as a retail store manager at companies including Nordstrom, Kit and Ace, and most recently, Alo Yoga, I decided to take what I’ve learned growing these companies (some more established and some new start-ups) and apply it to my own!
Michael: Throughout high school and college I was a host on 98ROCK, a major radio station in Tampa, FL. I had my own midnight show and slowly transitioned to morning radio. During that same time, I was also attending film school.
Post College – I’ve been working as a commercial/editorial photographer for the past seven years. I’m still doing it, but it’s slowed down so I have more time to focus on Dope Dog.