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How Only An Ocean Identifies and Nurtures “Extraordinary” Brands

4 questions with Cheryl Pedersen, co-founder


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What’s the secret to your company’s success?

While immersed in the pet industry for more than 15 years after founding Poochie-Pets (PoochieBells), I was continuously looking for opportunities to offer new and unique products to our family of retailers. It became clear to me that many extraordinary brands are looking for a trusted partner to help develop their potential and guide them through multiple domestic and international product and market barriers.

The Only An Ocean (OAO) team was formed under the managing direction of Arnie Freilich, my business coach. With partners Aaron Lowe and Jolanda van der Basch [in Europe], we formed a new type of distributor model that aligns with unique brands to develop growth goals through brand development. Utilizing our team’s strengths in product development, finance, marketing, sales and strategic vision, we deliver brands an opportunity to enter the pet industry with focus and expertise.

What types of unique services do you offer your clients? And in what ways do you help set up both independent product manufacturers and indie pet retailers for success in today’s crowded marketplace?

We recognize that most brands are centric around a passionate entrepreneur who typically works tirelessly at developing, marketing, distributing, selling and creating a business team. That’s a pretty tall order to fill successfully. OAO encourages each brand to focus on what they do best—developing their products/services. Our team creates a blueprint for culturally based marketing and sales through our multichannel relationships for each brand. Understanding where products are best utilized and understood is key to reaching their target audience successfully. Setting realistic goals for growth through continual industry feedback and fine-tuning marketing is vital for long-term placement. We believe products should not be pushed through all channels but rather pulled by demand within each applicable type of avenue, i.e., retailer, distributor and possible e-commerce platforms.

As a curator of brands, what do you look for in products and brands? And what product characteristics or trends stand out in today’s marketplace?

Utilizing our well-paved inroads within the European market through partner Jolanda van der Basch, who is based in the Netherlands, we are able to scout what we call “diamonds” in the pet industry. This structure allows us to find and distribute products to and from Europe and the U.S. alike—hence the name, Only An Ocean.

We look for the people behind the brands we partner with, specifically ones that have created a product to make the pet world better. Consumers want to join a brand and become part of it, and without that defined mission and clarity, you have a product, not a brand. For that reason, we have developed an initial tribe of brands that we have “joined” as our own. With our distribution sales partners at SLA Brands, we have had a significantly positive response from our distributors and retailers. Characteristics such as eco-friendly, natural, quality craftsmanship, uniqueness and value drive products that better the lives of pets. We look forward to growing this family and helping make the pet world an even greater place.

How has COVID-19 affected business for you, and are there any particular programs or types of assistance you’ve offered your manufacturer and/or retailer partners during this time?

Fortunately, our unique partnerships allow us to create and respond to the current retailer landscape at hand. Our warehouses in Connecticut and Kentucky react quickly to orders through traditional shipments and our newly expanded drop-ship program for key distributors.

The recent COVID-19 tragedy has affected everyone. Our hearts and prayers go out to our many business partners as they face unprecedented times. We have been consistently in touch with our clients to assist wherever needed. OAO works with each of them creatively by offering extended payment terms on orders, providing marketing assets to help with their messaging to clients, and by keeping our warehouses fully functional and responsive as our clients restock and rebuild.

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