An Interview With Lien Alsup

Lien Alsup Interview

Lien Alsup is the founder of PetsWell Pantry where “PetsWell That Eats Well!” She adopted her first dog over 8 years ago. Like a true animal lover, she did some extensive research on caring for a dog, reading up on everything from exercise, training and diet.

The more she dug, the more quickly Lien learned that commercial dog food was just that, a commercially made product chalked full of byproducts, preservatives and chemicals. She had to make a decision to go with what our society says to do and that is to feed our pets commercial processed pet food, or to start cooking for her Chihuahua, Rocco.

Many of the recipes includes fresh vegetables that were chosen to specifically help combat allergies in pets. Cucumber and parsley is a great resource. Like humans, our pets can suffer from environmental pollution and seasonal allergies. Lien made a healthy choice 8 years ago, and is now providing other pet owners a locally sourced healthy fresh option too. Our pets cannot choose so it is our responsibility as pet owners to choose to feed our pets a wholesome diet.

In this entrepreneur interview, Lien shares how she turned her passion into a thriving business. She also shares her competitive edge, her mission, her vice and her greatest influence along her entrepreneurial journey.

Learn more about Lien and how to keep your 4-legged best friend healthy by following PetsWell Pantry on Facebook!

Her advice to anyone starting a business:

Create your own method of good record keeping, set reminders and always revise your to-do lists.

What motivated you to start PetsWell Pantry? Did you see a way to serve customers better than your competitors?

I am a huge animal lover and I love sharing my passion of fresh food for dogs to help them live a longer and healthier life! We stand apart from our competitors because we use human grade, pet friendly, fresh organic ingredients free of toxic chemicals and synthetic vitamins. We provide a product that is fresh and locally sourced right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am always up for a challenge! When I rescued my first dog over 8 years ago, I researched everything to help me be the best pet parent. I read up on breed temperament, health, psychology, nutrition, training and exercise. I decided on a Chihuahua because they are known to one of the oldest living breed. They can live up to 25 years with great care starting with nutrition.

At the same time, I also learned that the ingredients used in commercial processed pet food was not human grade and made with by-products, fillers, toxic preservatives and chemicals. Our 4-legged family member is just like us! They require fresh wholesome food in their daily diet to help them thrive.

Research shows adding fresh yellow and green vegetables to our pet’s diet can reduce the rate of cancer by 70%. After much thought and more research, I came to the realization that I had to take responsibility for my pup’s health and it starts with food. I wanted Rocco to live forever….if that was possible, and I was going to do everything I could to help him live a long and healthy life.

I began to handcraft recipes using pet friendly ingredients and fresh organic vegetables along with other organic super foods. I am very passionate when sharing my healthy food and treats concept to other dog lovers. I believe that more pet food companies will produce better products if pet parents are reminded to read pet’s food labels.

At PetsWell Pantry, we are advocates of our pet’s health by providing a local product that we stand behind to be the healthiest fresh pet food on the market!

Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of PetsWell Pantry to serve your customers better?

Our fresh products have been on the market since late 2015. I started cooking and baking out of my home kitchen. In early 2016, we were accepted to Kitchen 66’s Development Program. As kitchen members, we have access to a spacious commercial kitchen facility along with local mentorship. This helps us to produce our products and quickly get it to market. With a commercial kitchen, I was armed and dangerous!

We launched Tulsa’s first pet food truck and website in mid April. It has been so much fun discovering what works and what hasn’t worked. Currently, we are working on a marketing and branding campaign to relaunch phase II of PetsWell Pantry. We are very excited to reveal our new logo and website which will include a renewal subscription program for our repeat customers.

We are also working on a parking strategy for the food truck and hope to have designated locations for local pickup.

What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the biggest thing you did to get there?

Like all new start-ups, there are many challenges. I think one of our biggest hurdle is not having a PetsWell Pantry store front. We are a grassroots business, pioneers with a new concept of delivering fresh organic food for dogs.

Even with the most sophisticated online ordering system, there are still generations of buyers who want to walk into a store to make a purchase. We offer our local customers free pick up at Kitchen 66 for all prepaid orders and participate in many local festivals, public pet events and dog adoption events to offer another avenue for local pickup.

As part of our new makeover, we have partnered with a marketing and branding company to help us launch an email and an online order campaign.

Who has been your greatest influence along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape PetsWell Pantry?

It’s a tie! Both Brooke and Robyn were an important part in shaping PetsWell Pantry.

Brooke Hamilton, CEO of NPI, Printing & Product Identification. Brooke is a friend who refused to take no for an answer! She was relentless in her request for me to provide her Stella the same fresh organic wholefoods option.

Over many of our girlfriend lunches, we brainstormed the idea of a fresh pet food delivery business along with a food truck. NPI created the graphics and the wrap for Tulsa’s 1st pet food truck that can be seen all over town.

Robyn Jones, Founder/Owner Cherry Berry. Robyn has been a great friend and a valuable resource. From the beginning, she has helped guide me along the path into entrepreneurship. Her experience, ideas, advice, and enthusiasm was just what I needed to take action.

Do you feel like writing a business plan or having some sort of plan in place when starting a business?

When starting a journey, it is vital to have a road map detailing your final destination.

What does your day-in, day-out look like? Is there any specific habit that has helped you become a better person?

My day starts at 4:00 am each morning with a visit to the gym and then a nice brisk long walk with my rescue pups. By 6:00 am, I am at my desk returning emails, handling financial operations, researching new products, and updating our social media accounts and blog.

Other mornings, I am at the kitchen with my staff working to fulfill orders and coordinating local deliveries. My secret vice is to always have lunch scheduled with someone on my advisory board. These brainstorming lunches are productive and helps strengthen our relationship.

This also guarantees that I won’t skip lunch and the bonus is that I get the opportunity to meet smart and talented colleagues who bring fresh new ideas to the table.

How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?

Starting my new business required me to improve my time management skills. I had to learn how to get “really” good at allocating quality time with my friends, family and spouse.

What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?

One of my biggest struggles ­as a new business owner is learning to manage my time more effectively. It’s a normal day to find myself juggling multiple projects and coordinating the day to day business operations.

My advice is to create your own method of good record keeping, set reminders and always revise your to-do lists. Staying disciplined and focused can prepare us to handle the demands of entrepreneurship. Never give up!