Tell us about Goodness Gracious and why you started it. Goodness Gracious is as much a company as it is a spirit. Its mission is to provide human grade, nutritionally superior, whole food diets for pets in a way that improves our connection to the planet and each other. To do that, it uses mindfully sourced ingredients; green-energy on a path to net zero; less plastic, zero Styrofoam and more compostable materials; a vibrant culture of inclusion that celebrates diversity; and a charitable give-back to community animal causes amounting to half its profits.
Goodness Gracious was a right turn for me. In 2007, I was running a small software company. I adopted my first dog, Grace, and then my second, Lula. Like most new Moms I became committed to the health of my girls. I discovered the ugly truth of what passes for pet food and the unconscionable corporate choices to put profit over safety. A powerful example of this truth occurred that year when melamine was found in pet foods – sickening and killing thousands. This was followed by problems with jerky treats that put dogs into kidney failure; and later by workers at a large pet food plant becoming sick from toxic exposure to mold and fumigants. Overwhelmed with distrust of commercial pet food, I started preparing my dogs’ food at home. Along the way, I learned that 3 – 5 million homeless dogs were euthanized annually in the U.S. because people fail them. When I turned 40 in 2009, I started asking myself, “who are you helping?” I was building shareholder value and providing leadership at the software company, but those answers were not enough. I envisioned a planet with thriving companion animals, homes for the homeless ones, and respect for all beings, so I built a company committed to that purpose. Goodness Gracious became my passion and purpose, a warm blanket for my spirit and thousands of animals, and the right turn that was 100% right.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? I’ve had a few amazing mentors who have taught me about the power of connection, courage, and commitment. I cannot single out any one piece of advice as the all-time best. Instead, I’ll say that recognizing that one’s teachers are everywhere, and that everything is a lesson, is incredibly powerful. For example, loss teaches us to live presently. Fear shows us our courage and inner strength. From the uncontrollable we learn to be disciplined. Setbacks and disappointment teach us endurance and fulfillment.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? I love many spots in Marblehead. My favorites are those I can enjoy with my family. My kids are canine. I have outlived three of them. Odds are, I will outlive three more. Grief teaches us about time. There is no greater gift than time with those you love. So, we seek out quiet, peaceful places. For us, these are the trails in Marblehead’s conservation lands. It’s here that the world melts away. We stop to sniff the flowers, explore the critter holes, listen to birds and streams, and be filled with the presence of each other.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I love to coach. I enjoy helping people make good dietary choices for their pets that have a positive impact on their pets’ healthspan and lifespan. Studies show that dogs are living shorter lives. Nearly 60% of them are fat and chronic disease is on the rise. Dogs are five times more likely than humans to get cancer according to leading integrative veterinary oncologists. Problems in the pet food industry are largely to blame. Connecting with people on these truths and how to make better choices is powerful for them and enriching for me.
What’s next for Goodness Gracious? I’m thrilled to be one of eight women hosting an event at the Jacobi Community Center on June 10 that shines a light on these issues and shares practical advice for building a better pet food bowl. We’re also covering canine first aid and CPR, and good training practices for mental enrichment. Net proceeds from the event benefit local animal rescue groups. For me, this event brings many of my passions together for one amazing purpose: more time with the companion animals at the center of our hearts. You can read more and register for this event at http://goodnessgracioustreats.com/pages/events
For More Information:
Tell us about Creature Comforts & Pawsitively Marblehead. Creature Comforts & Pawsitively Marblehead (CCPAWS) are businesses that are centered around your pets! Creature Comforts is our pet service side of the business, which includes our doggy daycare (and adorable dog buses!), dog walking and in-home pet care services – where we’ve cared for everything from cats to bearded dragons to chickens!
Pawsitively Marblehead is our boutique shop, located on Atlantic Ave, that features toys, accessories, and gifts for the pets and pet lovers in your life! We focus on carrying quality, local brands that you wouldn’t typically find in larger chain pet stores and we love collaborating with other local businesses to create unique pet products.
Both businesses were started by Brooks and Ned Williams over 20 years ago, and James and I happily took over the reins (or leashes in this case!) from them in 2019. As an employee of theirs for 7 years before this transition, I knew many aspects of the business already, but it has certainly been quite a learning experience to be on the owner’s side of things now. We love working directly with the animals we take care of, as well as with our customers and clients to figure out the best products to help enrich the lives of their pets…and getting to drive a dog bus now and then isn’t a bad way to spend the day either!
What is the best piece of business advice you ever received? The most important piece of business knowledge that I’ve received is how important it is to have reliable staff – they truly are the core of our business and we wouldn’t be able to do what we did without them. When dealing with people’s pets, it really is like dealing with a member of their family, so being able to trust and rely on our staff is critical. This was especially important when James and I welcomed our son Everett last year – we relied heavily on our manager Amy and the rest of our staff to hold down the fort as we adapted to life as first time parents. We are so thankful for our awesome team and their never-ending enthusiasm for the animals we care for!
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead? James and I can both say hands down that our favorite spot in Marblehead is Chandler Hovey Park. We just love everything about the lighthouse, and actually have quite the collection of different photos, paintings, and trinkets of it around our house … so much so, that we often joke that we live in the Marblehead Museum! I grew up sailing from Marblehead along the Maine coast and have always appreciated how different and unique our lighthouse is compared to the traditional white lighthouses you see in most places.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? You may already know that prior to owning CCPAWS, I worked at the New England Aquarium for 10 years in both the Rescue & Rehab Department and the Marine Mammal Training Department, but what you may not know is that part of my job in the Rescue Department was driving an ambulance (yes, an actual medical ambulance!) that we had outfitted to respond to animals including sea turtles, seals, and stranded dolphins and whales. And I have to say, driving a dog bus is actually easier…go figure!
Tell us about your Hound Around, LLC. Hound Around, LLC provides an assortment of things for your dog. We offer in-home overnight pet care, daily walks as needed, and our Hound Crew Doggy Day Trips, which are weekday hikes at various locations on the North Shore. Your dog will have the opportunity to make friends, learn to walk in a cohesive group, and achieve excellent health with good exercise. We are happy to also announce the newest addition to our business, our Hound Around Doggy Bags which are a monthly subscription bag that include a variety of treats, toys and so much more.
What made you decide to start your business? We love dogs! When we were discussing our business, I was completing my undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Salem State University and just walking dogs on the side, and my boyfriend, and now co-owner of Hound Around LLC, was working as a landscaper. We decided to create a business where we could live a healthy lifestyle, do what we enjoy doing most, and provide Doggy Day Trips for our beloved dogs on the North Shore.
What do you love most about Marblehead? I have been blessed to grow up in Marblehead, and I love the peace of the ocean and my close nurturing community. I started out as a babysitter and a dog walker for many families growing up, and so they know me, and my family. This is a solid foundation in which to start a business, I have the respect, kindness and word of mouth from those that know me well.
What hobbies and interests do you have? I enjoy scrapbooking, networking and problem solving. I love sunshine and beaches. I love traveling; I have had the good fortune to see and learn about Italy, Ireland, Hawaii, Arizona, Virginia, a twenty-day road trip from Northern CA to Southern CA, and Israel. I still have Iceland on the list for my next adventure!