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Daily Inspiration: Meet Rich Jackson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rich Jackson. 

Hi Rich, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I started Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip in 2017 with my wife, Lisa Jackson. We call ourselves a “meow & paws“ company. As our name implies, we make and sell catnip and cat-themed products. 

I’ve always been an Artist, and I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug. I never wanted to work for someone else. Because of those traits, most of my life I’ve been a freelance 3D Animator, along with doing other side hustles. I was a pioneer in the world of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), and that lead to me becoming a Film Producer/Director. 

Before starting Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip, I had just finished production on my first Human Trafficking documentary with Lisa as the Producer. The film was a success, but the subject is horrendous and actually took an emotional toll on me. Of the four “survivors” that we filmed, one was murdered, and one committed suicide before I was even don’t editing the film. I knew it was time to pivot. 

Art is a good escape for me. One day I was drawing some character sketches of our fat cat, Skinny Pete. Over the radio, a news story came on about the exponential growth of the pet industry. I love animals, and after some research and some brainstorming with Lisa, Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip was born! 

That first sketch became the art on the label of our “Blue Meowy Wowy” catnip tin. It’s part of our flagship product, the Three-Piece Gourmet Catnip gift set. As far as I know, this is the first and only catnip on the market that is flavored with mint. 

Today we offer a variety of products unique to our company. We have cat-themed apparel that I designed, cat-themed art posters, and one product for dogs. Dog-Ezz is an all-natural, herbal anxiety remedy for dogs. It’s becoming an industry disruptor. 

A big part of our business model includes us attending art/craft shows. Each weekend we look forward to meeting new cat lovers in person. It’s a great way to explain our products and recruit people into the Skinny Pete’s “tribe.” It’s really fun to talking to customers about their fur babies. There’s lot of people out there who love their pets as much as we love ours. 

Earlier this year, we were approached by chewy.com. After some back and forth, we have partnered with them. We now have several online sales channels, including Amazon and our own eStore. I finally feel like one of my many business start-ups is a success. 

It’s very rewarding to grow an idea into a viable company. Best of all, I love working with my soul mate, Lisa. Her amazing business insight and support is the perfect pairing to my creativity. I gladly work 70 hours a week so the I don’t have to work 40 for someone else. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The challenge for me in the beginning, was the learning curve. I’m well versed in pixels and polygons, but eCommerce is a whole new world. Forming an LLC and filing for Trademarks was straightforward. The harder part was setting up an EDI (electronic document interchange), registering barcodes, and learning tax codes. Being dyslexic doesn’t help either. 

When the Governor shut down businesses in our State, we took a hit. There were no more live art/craft shows. We only survived because we were able to use money from our documentaries to fund the catnip business. 

Today our biggest obstacles are run-away inflation and fuel costs. Our supply chain is precarious too. Another aspect of high gas cost is that it may affect the attendance of our live shows. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Although Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip is a small business, I believe that it’s our creative treatment and art that defines us. We get many positive comments on our packaging design. Especially our flagship product, the Three Pice Gourmet Catnip gift set. There has been more than one time that I’ve walked into a Starbucks and seen a laptop with our logo sticker on it. Although we a best known for our great catnip, we also offer cat-themed apparel that I designed myself. We sell a lot of my original art cat-themed posters too. 

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
I believe that the two most essential qualities needed to have a successful startup are creativity and perseverance. 

My first business failed, but I learned many new skills. My second, third and fourth business also failed. But again, I learned along the way. Today I’m the Owner of Skinny Pete’s Gourmet Catnip. I’m glad that the earlier setbacks and discouragement didn’t make me give up. 

Pricing:

  • Three Piece Gourmet Catnip gift Set – $15.99
  • Classic Catnip in the big tin – $10.99
  • Cat Themed Art Posters – $12.99-29.99
  • Men & Women’s Tanks & Tees – $19.99

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Image Credits

Rich Jackson

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