Our Founders' Story
Hello and welcome to Project Hive Pet Company! Allow me to introduce our original founder: Jim Schifman. (I am his wife and co-owner. You can learn more about me on LinkedIn.)
The Corporation—a documentary that lays out an argument: if businesses were humans, they would be diagnosed as psychopaths. Why? Because they act entirely in their own self-interest, without regard for their impact on others. Corporations were presented as deleterious organizations led by greedy, singularly focused capitalists that act only in the best interests of shareholders, even if it meant polluting our water, air, and soil. (I say “our” because we all rely upon these resources; we don’t really own a distinct supply of air or water. We can own soil, but we’re not likely to be able to eat your standard meal from it.)
After we saw the movie, Jim said to me: “I’m part of the problem! I have to quit my job!” We had just had our first baby, and I had just left my corporate job, so I didn’t see that as a realistic option. Besides, I posited, you can use your ability to sell products to mass retailers to get more products that are better for the planet to more people.
Over the next decade, Jim discovered more meaningful work: helping mission-driven, better-for-you, and better-for-the-planet companies sell more products and reach more people. Brands like Nature’s Path, Klean Kanteen, and Seventh Generation—he helped grow into household names. But we weren’t finding these types of products in the pet industry, and we saw that as an opportunity.
Around that same time, an article came out in the Guardian, letting the world know that bees were deemed the most important species on the planet. And they are in danger. That stuck with us.
What was I doing all this time besides taking care of the kids, house, and yard? I became a LEED Accredited Professional and launched and grew my career as a sustainability consultant and writer. I LEED certified several million square feet of commercial property, conducted carbon footprint analyses and wrote corporate sustainability reports. I even wrote a book: Building a Sustainable Home: Practical Green Design Choices for Your Health, Wealth, and Soul (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018).
When Jim came to me with the idea of starting a pet company, he said he’d probably have to make the products in China in order to be priced competitively in the marketplace. I told him I had zero interest in a business that didn’t have more of a purpose. My involvement was conditional: products had to be made in the U.S., as sustainably as possible.
We realized we were both always trying to convince others to operate more responsibly. So, it was only a matter of time before we came together to start something on our own. Our conversations became aspirational: What if we could create a business as a force for good? What if we could make really cool dog toys and treats that dogs love, are engaging, and help save the bees?
Wait, what do bees have to do with dogs? We get that question all the time. The reality is that humans, dogs, cats, bees—we are all species sharing our lives on this one planet Earth!
- The plight of bees represents the plight of our planet’s ability to support humans with healthy foods—which requires healthy soil, air, and water.
- Saving bees by planting acres of wildflower habitat is a measurable and achievable goal—which also happens to help so many other species critical to our fragile ecosystem (like butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects). It’s also something individuals can do in their own homes, with multiple benefits. By transforming lawns into wildflowers, it’s not only more beautiful, but you’ll also save water, fertilizer, and decrease carbon emissions because that lawn doesn’t need to be mowed anymore.
- There’s an aesthetic quality that is easily transformed into cute, fun products with hive shapes or honeycomb patterns--so it can gently remind people to think about bees and support our planet. (Compare that to say, combatting climate change—what cute, fun aesthetic is associated with that?)
How does a husband-and-wife team manage? Fortunately, our skills are complementary, and we don’t butt heads very often. Underlying it all is mutual respect for each other’s areas of expertise. Jim is the consummate salesman; he’s happiest at the Global Pet Expo talking to people about how great our products are. Unlike me, he’s not so into spreadsheets or writing. So we divide and conquer. And we are growing an incredible team of passionate individuals who are helping us realize our vision.
What is that vision? We genuinely want to help save the bees. The more dog toys and treats we sell, the more money we can donate to The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund, and the more and more acres of wildflower habitat they can establish. We’re working to #BuildtheHive, and we hope you’ll join us!