V: Hi Fia! It's exciting to interview you for our World page. We're always looking for entrepreneurs who, like us, want to innovate the animal industry. If anyone is doing that right now, it's you with your vegetarian feed brand PAWR! We usually start with a simple question: how are you? And could you give us a brief introduction about yourself?
A: Yes, it's really exciting! Thank you for wanting to share our brand and for the lovely introduction. Things are going well with PAWR, we've just been informed that we won an innovation award, so that's a great recognition. I'm Fia Luijerink, 24 years old, a nutritionist, and the creator of PAWR. With my deep love for four-legged friends and passion for nutrition, I'm committed to creating a brighter future!
V: You started this company with your father, who is a veterinarian. How is it to work together with your father?
A: Working with my father is genuinely even more enjoyable than I expected. It's already great to create things that make you happy and doing that together with your father makes it even better. I think we complement each other well. With his extensive experience in the field and my fresh perspective, we've made PAWR a unique brand. He gives me a lot of freedom to implement my own ideas and is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to dog welfare haha. With his 15 years of experience in developing vegetarian dog food and his background as a veterinarian, he's my mentor when it comes to creating truly high-quality plant-based products.
V: How did you come up with vegetarian food? (I've set the follow-up question separately)
A: During my studies, the idea for PAWR emerged. With my love for dogs, I started looking into pet food instead of just human food. As I learned more about what we feed our dogs daily, my drive to create a dog food full of win-win situations only grew. Plant-based dog food turned out to be the answer, where the health of our four-legged friends, sustainability, and a better life for all animals come together.
V: What's the advantage of a vegetarian diet compared to fish and meat-based feed?
A: A vegetarian diet is, of course, more sustainable for the planet, and we save countless animal lives by choosing plant-based proteins and fats. But what many people don't know is that it also has many benefits for the well-being of dogs. Food based on plant proteins is hypoallergenic and easily digestible, which is the solution for dogs with allergies and stomach and intestinal problems. Even if your dog doesn't have allergies, plant-based food offers many advantages. From experience, we see improvements in fur, perfect stool, and dogs are less likely to become overweight. Recent research shows that plant-based food is the healthiest and safest option compared to traditional dog food. Dogs on a plant-based diet visit the vet less often and need fewer medications. The switch to plant-based food is not just a choice for sustainability, but also for the health of your beloved four-legged friend.
V: Do you have pets yourself? And do they also eat PAWR?
A: Unfortunately, our dog has passed away, and due to my living situation, it's currently not possible to get a dog. When it becomes possible, that will, of course, change immediately. Fortunately, I have a whole bunch of lovely dogs around me to whom I can give my love and who are naturally also PAWR testers. By the way, at the office, we also have several office dogs who also love PAWR!
V: No doubt, PAWR must be very time-consuming; a startup involves a lot of multitasking! What do your days look like? What do you find to be the most enjoyable aspects of doing business in this industry?
A: Doing business in this sector is truly a delight, but it also comes with its challenges. The love for animals runs deep, there's a lot of room for innovation, and cuddling with dogs is part of the job. However, we also have the task as 'pioneers' to share a lot of knowledge with professionals and dog owners. Plant-based nutrition is relatively new for many, which means we need to provide quite a bit of education. Fortunately, as a veterinarian and nutritionist, we are well-founded and fully convinced of our products, but indeed there are also 100 other things on our to-do list. One day I work on strategy & marketing, the next day I visit our stores and wholesalers, I'm responsible for all creative expressions while keeping our socials up to date, and I also love to personally handle customer service where I help customers with their PAWR adventure.
V: We've already seen PAWR in a few nice pet stores! Where can we buy your food?
A: It's great to hear that! PAWR is available in more than 100 physical stores in the Netherlands and Belgium. We have grown quickly and collaborate with independent pet stores, dog boutiques, and work together with the retailer Pets Place. In addition, for our online shoppers, we have our own web shops.
V: What's your biggest ambition with PAWR? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
A: We dream big and are doing everything we can to make PAWR a well-known and trusted brand in the Netherlands, hoping many countries will follow! We hope that plant-based nutrition will become an obvious choice for every dog owner within 5 years, with our products helping dogs to be their healthiest selves. Over the next few years, we want to expand our range with various products so that we can offer a conscious choice at every mealtime of the day. And of course, to establish great partnerships with which we can collectively make an impact, hopefully with many new stores so that PAWR is available for all our four-legged friends!
V: There might also be people who want to switch their dogs to plant-based food. Can they switch immediately? Or how does it work? Can it also be combined with a meat/fish diet?
A: Absolutely, transitioning or mixing PAWR into the current diet is very easy. Plant-based nutrition is just as complete as meat-based nutrition. The only difference is that with plant-based nutrition, you're not only thinking about your dog but also about the planet and other animals. Our plant-based food is hypoallergenic, gluten-free, and perfectly suitable for dogs with sensitive stomachs and intestines. Because it's hypoallergenic, it can also be combined well with a meat or fish diet, without risks of allergic reactions. Many of our customers mix PAWR into their current diet, contributing. Every bite is a step forward!
V: You undoubtedly receive a lot of lovely feedback from happy dog owners and see wonderful results! What has been the most delightful feedback you've received from a customer so far?
A: We receive a lot of positive feedback from various types of dogs. It's amazing to see how we can bring joy in eating back to picky dogs and relieve the most allergic dogs from their discomforts. One special story is that of a boxer who can tolerate nothing other than PAWR. His owners used to travel all the way to Germany for hypoallergenic dog food, but now they're delighted that, thanks to our food, their dog is free from his ailments and enjoys eating it. We also heard from a labradoodle owner that since feeding PAWR, the number of tangles in their dog's coat has decreased, and they don't have to brush as often.
V: It's great that you took the time for an interview! Would you like to share a business lesson with our followers? And maybe a fun fact about PAWR that you'd like to share?
A: I do have a 'lesson,' not a business lesson though ;) Did you know that a small dog weighing 5 kilograms eats as much meat per day as an average Dutch person, and a Rottweiler even eats six times as much? And a fun fact about PAWR: PAWR is pronounced as "power" and symbolizes the combination of a paw and the strength to make an impact. So, choose PAWR with your four-legged friend and do your part!
Thank you, Fia!
Better footprints, made together! Let's create an even more beautiful, bigger, and fun dog world together!