We had the good fortune of connecting with Donie Yamamoto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Donie, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think of risk as an inherent part of growth. Every decision I make, whether big or small, might involve risk. I believe trust goes hand in hand with risk as well; trusting that whatever the outcome, success or failure, an opportunity to learn and grow presents itself. Risk has brought me to where I am today; creating and growing a brand based on pet wellness and sustainability. Growing up in the Philippines taught me invaluable lessons about risk-taking and following your dreams. In our patriarchal society, it wasn’t acceptable for young women to become entrepreneurs at a young age. With very little capital or family support, I took a risk and opened a clothing store. Taking risks at a young age taught me that by working hard and believing in myself, I could achieve my goals.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I believe every pet family deserves affordable, clean pet wellness products for their fur babies. Just as consumers are inquiring where their organic, farm-grown food comes from, they also want to know the facts behind what their pets are consuming and using. My obsession with clean, transparent, and researched ingredients sets us apart and is why we have a loyal and passionate customer community. As part of my continuing goal to put sustainability first, our company’s hero product Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), certified 100% sustainable, ensuring it is wild, traceable, and sustainable. The renowned MSC blue fish label is applied only to wild salmon from fisheries certified by a science-based set of requirements for sustainable fishing. My goal is for sustainability to be mainstream in pet wellness, not a trend.
What you are most proud of or excited about.
How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy?
How did you overcome the challenges?
Focusing on remaining positive has been instrumental in overcoming the challenges and the stress of the last year. Of course, we worked tirelessly on production, sourcing pumps for our best selling product, but Kyle and I are inherently positive, upbeat people. Our approach involves a lighter touch, especially during these tough times. We started a fun and engaging new tradition with our team for our Monday Slack meeting, where we all post pictures of our weekend.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What differentiates Vital Pet Life from big box pet companies is that we create authentic relationships with non-profit organizations that share a common mission of animal welfare, outreach, and compassion. We partner and work closely with Wags & Walk, a community of dog lovers working to promote shelter dogs as the best pets in the world through their unique family-friendly foster and adoption programs. Their mission is to save family-friendly dogs and place them in loving homes within the LA community. Sadly, in the past few months, more COVID adopted dogs are being dropped off at shelters, no longer wanted. It’s heartbreaking, so I’m offering help in any way possible to support their efforts with products and support. Since 2011, Wags and Walks have saved over 7000 dogs from high-kill shelters in Los Angeles.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to my husband Kyle. We’ve built Vital Pet Life together. We’re a team. While I’m the visionary and R & D part of our brand, Kyle focuses on infrastructure, technology, and innovative new ways to improve our business. Because our roles are complementary, we’re interconnected without overlapping. Thank you, Kyle! I also have to give our fur baby Tuxedo a shoutout, since healing him is what inspired us to start Vital Pet Life. We’re grateful to now pay it forward and help relieve the stress of other pet families when their fur babies need support. We know what it feels like; we’ve been through it and don’t take for granted how lucky we are.
I love Terrence Mckenna’s quote, and I’d like to give it a shoutout. It sums up my life purpose; being courageous in living my life, dreaming the impossible, and just committing. “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment, and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream, and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”