Still within it’s first year, the business has leapt from research and development into manufacturing and launch with strong sales success already.
The man behind Cooper and Gracie, also known as C&G, is Craig Roberts. His inspiration for starting the business was the love for his Hungarian Vizsla, Tilba, and a desire to raise the standards in the pet care industry.
“I love animals and I found a massive problem within the pet care industry. I knew I could solve this using the network that I had built up around me. Tilba became my best bud in August 2016. She was the first animal I’d had the responsibility of looking after and nurturing into the dog she is today. This brought up some interesting challenges and has truly changed me as a person, for which I am forever grateful to her.”
Cruelty-free pet care is C&G’s mission and Craig believes that through the business, by joining with his customers, he can leave a positive impact on the world.
‘Cruelty-free’ generally means that a product and its ingredients are not tested on animals, though Cooper & Gracie goes a step further to verify that neither them nor their suppliers conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for their ingredients, formulations, or finished products anywhere in the world and promise that they will not do this in the future.
Cooper & Gracie products range from flea and tick shampoos to nose and paw balms, with their wound spray proving a top seller so far. Craig sells direct to pet owners through the website and via shopping interfaces Amazon and Ebay.
Cooper & Gracie supports rescue dogs in need by donating their products to animal charity re-homing centres. Craig aims for this to reach 10 million animals and invites shelters to get in touch.
“We are not solely in the business of pet care, we are in the business of responsibly changing the pet care industry and helping less fortunate animals along the way. Being an entrepreneur is the biggest chance I will get of truly making a positive impact in the world and perhaps leaving behind something that lasts much longer than me.”
Cooper and Gracie are two characters that Craig created to represent and remind people of the caring, loveable and inspiring qualities that pets can have on humans.
Craig has had a supportive team around him, and recognises that he could not have got this far on his own. He lists his helpers:
“I thank Elaine Roberts (Mum) for her support and belief in me, Ed Walker for his huge help with accounting and cash flow forecasting, Holly Haynes for her support and help with staying organised and focused and, of course, there’s Tilba The Vizsla for inspiring the Cruelty Free blends and being the reason Cooper And Gracie exists today. Throughout this journey each and every person involved in C&G has had their life positively changed by the chance encounter of an animal in some form or another. It is these memories, feelings and emotions that drive us on to do what we do today.”
Craig’s father served in the RAF; he joined at 18 and deployed to Egypt in the 1950s during the Suez Crisis. Craig said:
“Dad used to recount many fond memories about his time in the RAF. I am very proud of him and his service, and I think his work ethic rubbed off on me in my business approach.”
Asked for his advice for others starting out as an entrepreneur, Craig suggested that being practical about money and using the tools around you wisely to get your product/service in front of your market was vital.
Like most entrepreneurs, Craig has encountered challenges with finances:
“Coming to terms with some of the losses you make whilst running a business can be really tough. It tests you mentally and can be a very lonely place. You have to really own your losses, be accountable for the decisions you make and learn fast. Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest learned.”
Cooper & Gracie has grown quickly, more so than most start-up businesses, a fact that Craig attributes to the support and Start Up Loan he’s received via X-Forces Enterprise (XFE).
“X-Forces’ advice, mentoring and access to finance enabled me to grow the business faster than I could have alone. They have shown a belief in me and my business by choosing to support it after a very thorough and professional application process.”
XFE’s CEO, Ren Kapur MBE, commented:
“It’s great to hear that Craig’s business is going from strength to strength and now in a position to give back to his community. The pet care industry is booming, and combining ethical and socially responsible products is what consumers want and expect in today’s world. We wish C&G all the success and prosperous 2019 ahead.”
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Is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community and are the official delivery partner to the government’s Start Up Loans Company and Career Transition Partnership (MoD). XFE has supported over 1,250 entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and has helped thousands more through training, events and mentoring provisions. X-Forces.com