An animal lover through and through, Georgianna Carlos shares her love for animals and taking social responsibility through sustainable businesses.
It is no question to those who know Georgianna Carlos that she has an immense penchant for animals. “I grew up with dogs, with my first dog being a Beagle named Lizzie. Before that, I had bunnies, hamsters, and other animals,” she shares excitedly. This inclination for animals isn’t just a trait unique to her, “I also come from a family of animal lovers.” It is clear that she comes from a pedigree of animal advocates, “My mother’s family is known to rescue animals (from the road!) and my great grandmother was known to have a lot of dogs. My younger brother was also a volunteer for PAWS before he moved to the USA to study, and my mom and tita even rescued a tarsier [from] an illegal seller in a mall here in Metro Manila.” Along with this deep care for her furry friends, growing up with animals has also instilled a sense of responsibility in her. “I think what played a part was not just that I grew up surrounded by pets, but my parents made me responsible for them,” she says. “When I got my first dog when I was 11 years old, I was the one who bathed, fed, walked, and brought her to the vet.”
Thus, it comes to no surprise that this upbringing of responsibility and compassion for animals led to her first business, Fetch! Naturals. A business idea that sprouted out of concern, George shares, “I grew up with dogs, and so I never experienced a dog having allergic reactions to shampoos until I got my Bichon Frise, Drogo. He was in and out of the vet due to hot spots and rashes and I have tried all types of shampoos available in the market–produced locally and internationally.” The chronic nature of Drogo’s rash led her to search every corner of the world finding a shampoo that would address the ailment, until she struck upon a specific ingredient. “It was around mid or late 2016 that my (now) fiancé gave me a bottle of this expensive pet shampoo from Italy to try on my dog. I tried it and my dog didn’t react negatively. I checked the ingredients and one of the ingredients listed [is] Neem Oil,” she shares on her discovery of the healing ingredient. This is when her entrepreneurial mind intersected with her caring heart, “I decided to research…what Neem is and I learned it’s a tree that grows in tropical countries like the Philippines. From there, I thought, why spend so much money on this existing shampoo when the ingredient is most likely from here anyway?”
From Fetch To Forbes
From a quick research about a local ingredient that can help not only her own pets but others as well, George not only saw an opportunity for business, but for aiding others as well. “We chose to create products using 100% aqueous plant extracts instead of oils,” she notes, explaining that extracts are more expensive to produce than oils, which is why many companies opt to just use the oils. “We are the first Filipino pet care brand to use 100% aqueous extract. This is harder to produce as it uses minimal heat, but it is able to preserve most of the benefits of the plant. It is also water-soluble making it good for those with sensitive skin and making it biodegradable.” And with that, Fetch! launched their first line of products: Fetch! Neem Pet Care System.
The genius in this launch is that George didn’t just focus on creating one product from the Neem plant. Instead, she designed a holistic care system with a set of products that will maximize the extracts and provide all-round pet care. “We didn’t launch just a shampoo: we launched a system that every pet owner needs,” she says. “It included a shampoo, a Neem Leave-On Rinse (the first of its kind in the market. Think of it as a natural pet sanitizer, dry shampoo, anti tick & flea spray, and deodorizer all in one), and a natural, non-toxic house cleaner since pets can make messes or, pet owners like myself, are scared to use chemical based products to clean forms in case a pet accidentally ingests it.” This commitment to quality isn’t just hollow banter, “We made an effort to get ourselves the certifications and registrations (FDA, BAI, DOST) for our products. We don’t just make claims–we have these to back them up. So, when we say safe for human use–it really has been checked for human use. When we say our house cleaner kills bacteria, we have a DOST certificate proving the product killed said bacteria.”
Aside from their product’s quality, George also emphasizes that the Fetch! brand be fully aligned with the ideology of sustainability. As a local all-natural brand, she knew that this also comes with the responsibility of maintaining the source of their products. “We focused on how we sourced it from the Philippines,” she shares. “Knowing that we are able to support local farmers by continuing to purchase and use local produce also motivates me.” Adding to her brand’s sustainable efforts, she continues, “We are the first pet care brand that actively set-up multiple refilling stations in Metro Manila and we have tried, if possible, to ship our products with minimal plastic. We also focused on creating shampoo bars, which gave consumers a plastic free option as well.”
So, with the multiple levels of ingenuity that went into making Fetch! Naturals, it didn’t take long for George’s noble efforts to be recognised. In 2019, she was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 for her work in Fetch! and when asked about her initial reaction to the news, she humbly shares, “Thinking how I made it to the list still leaves me in awe. I mean, past listers and alumni include Melanie Perkins of Canva and Naomi Osaka. How was it that I was considered to be part of the same list? But it’s been an amazing experience.” With the recognition came unique opportunities for her. “I met amazing people from all over, and it has opened certain doors for my business and for me as an entrepreneur.” Adding to her enriching experience she was “able to attend the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Detroit last year, which gave me the opportunity to hear from various entrepreneurs and personalities from the USA and Europe.”
Coping with the new normal
The pandemic certainly changed everyone’s lifestyles. Before the quarantine, George used to start her day with a trip to the gym and checking emails before going to the office. She would bring her Bichon Frise named Drogo along, much to the delight of the employees and her MyOffice clients when the adorable dog visits the neighboring office. George would also take the beloved pet to dates with her fiancé and to pet-related events, further establishing Drogo’s constant presence in George’s life.
When the quarantine was imposed, the routine had to be adjusted. She now works from home three to four times a week while the rest of the days are spent in the office. With the health and safety measures in place, it may seem to limit the freedom she has in her schedule. However, this doesn’t stop her from continuously improving her brand.
George explains they had to “get creative and see what novel items we can offer to the pet care community while maintaining our commitment to natural, local, and human and pet friendly.” For business affairs, she says being strategic is crucial. “A lot of big brands out there try to copy our brand, products, and messaging,” she reveals. Fortunately, the pet care community is discerning and thus, they continue to support Fetch! Naturals. It further warms her heart when they receive positive feedback from clients including photos with their dogs. Not only it motivates the team but also reassures them of the brand’s value. Apart from having the products become part of people’s lifestyles, they are happy to support local farmers by purchasing their local produce.
The shifting business climate
Having her businesses start and grow in the digital landscape made it easy to adjust when the community quarantine was imposed. “The fact that my businesses are still here and continue to grow despite the pandemic is a huge motivation,” George affirms. As a leader, she claims she must remain “open to [people’s] suggestions and willing to execute new ideas—whether it works or not—[to find] innovative ways to grow a company, keep employees accountable, and make a brand relevant.”
As many businesses remain closed, shifting to an online approach proves a great investment to keep businesses active. For George’s team, they continue adapting to the currently digital-oriented market through their own e-commerce store. This kept communication to clients limited to social media like what is happening now with their Fetch! Petpreneur Program launched in 2017. As the name suggests, it is a “community reseller program that allows Fetch! loyal customers to earn money on the side while helping them spread the brand mission and vision,” George clarifies. She enthusiastically adds how some of their Petpreneurs have gained a strong social media presence over time. Among them are “Yuna the Golden Retriever, Alvin and his human, Althea, Bumble Bee the Chow, and the Sy Cats.”
Despite the negative impact of the pandemic, the quarantine helped people slow down and ruminate on lessons learned. George brings up the importance of equality and giving people access to opportunities. “If my work can help support a fledgling start-up through MyOffice or Permitly, ensure a farmer has a constant buyer, give a person his or her first opportunity as an entrepreneur through Fetch!, or reassure a new employee of a source of income since we are able to hire more people during a pandemic, then I think that’s quite meaningful,” she says. Beyond this, she wants to “own a farm where I can house all my rescue animals.” Such is her ultimate dream of a peaceful life doing and surrounded by what she loves the most.
Photos FLOYD JHOCSON
Art Direction MARC PAGDILAO and PAU DE MESA
Stylist GEE JOCSON assisted by STEPH APARICI
Makeup CHUCHIE LEDESMA
Hair PATTY INOJALES