An Interview with the Co-Founder and President of Brutus Broth, Kim Hehir

Kim Hehir

The Story of Brutus Broth: Brutus Broth is on a mission to share the benefits of their broth with as many dogs as possible. They create broth and broth-related recipes that are both tasty and nutritional. “Our story began on Thanksgiving Day in 2016 when a family member asked to what we attribute to Brutus' (our dog) longevity. The answer: “Love and Grandma’s Bone Broth.” We found that adding Bone Broth to his diet not only provided him with a tastier meal but gave him added nutritional benefits. Not only that, he loved the taste and adding the broth to his dry food made it more easily digestible. The challenge was finding a way to share these benefits with other dogs. Kim and Sue spent thousands of hours researching the pet market, speaking to experts in the industry, testing and tweaking recipes, designing packaging prototypes, working with ingredient suppliers and manufacturers, amongst other things, to assemble the best possible team to help bring Brutus’ Bone Broth to the market.​​​”

Tell Us a Little Bit About Kim and Brutus Broth

Interview with Kim Hehir

My sister Sue and I started Brutus Broth together in 2018 - and it’s been such an amazing journey to be on together. I don’t know how anyone can be a sole founder. We have had so many ups and downs with our business and we have really complementary skill sets so our partnership works great. Sue’s dog was Brutus, so it’s amazing to go from that Thanksgiving table, to creating the product, starting the company, and now being in over 10,000 stores across the U.S.

Where Is Your Company Located?

We’re fully remote! We have people based in Maryland, NYC, Connecticut, Miami, Ohio, Austin, Atlanta, and more.

Do You Have Any Pets?

Yes! I have a sweet golden retriever named Shumba. She’s 8 and acting like a puppy! We recently relocated from Hawaii to Connecticut - even though she was a Hawaii dog, she didn’t like the beach or the ocean. But in Connecticut she has become a total outdoors girl - running, exploring, hunting. It’s been so funny to see her personality in our new home. Sue has two rescue pups - Cedric (her small 65 pound pit mix) and Bronson (145-pound Greater Swiss Mountain dog).

Can You Share a Bit of Your Journey in the Pet Industry?

Sue and I came into the pet industry with no prior pet industry experience. I came from corporate hospitality, and Sue came from non-profit and banking. When we started, we spent thousands of hours researching the industry and looking for the “white space.” We also knew it was really important to have high quality partners and that what you think might happen, sometimes doesn’, so we spent the first year really just beta-testing our products. Once we completed our beta-test, we had hard data that we could use in sales meetings with other retailers, which made our jobs a lot easier.

What Is an Example of Your Biggest Challenge You Have Faced as You Have Built Your Brand?

Kim Hehir and Brutus Broth

We have so many. When we first launched, we had our packaging printed, product filled and ready to hit shelves, and were then told by the NY State Agricultural Department that we could not have “with glucosamine” on the package. It had to say “ with added glucosamine” since its fortified with glucosamine for joint health. Instead of pulling all of the product, we came up with the idea to create a little sticker that highlighted our amazing charitable partner Project K9 Hero, and we were able to have them adhered to the packaging to cover up the text. We’ve learned that resourcefulness, creativity, and quick thinking can usually help us beat any challenges that come our way (and many still do!!)

Who Is Your Target Customer at Brutus Broth?

Anyone who owns a dog! Our broth can be added to any dog’s existing diet, and can be used in so many ways - hip and joint support, to moisten food to make it easier for puppies or seniors to chew, to entice picky eaters to eat, and more - so, anyone who has a dog is our target consumer. We believe every dog can benefit from bone broth.

What Is the Most Exciting Thing That Has Happened Since You Launched?

Every retailer launch is exciting but the 2 that stand out were Wegmans and Target. Wegmans was huge because they were our beta test partner and still test out all of our new products. They took a chance on us when we first started and were patient through so many bumps. They are amazing partners and value relationships which is so important when you are trying to grow a business. Target was another exciting milestone. They decided to launch us nationally after we had only been in business for a year. That validation was somewhat of a relief because we knew we had something great, but it was also so nerve wracking because we then had to perform. Target still keeps me up at night!

Do You Personally Have Any Other Favorite Dog Products or Brands?

Pride & Groom, Shameless Pets, Suzie’s Pet Treats, Puppington.

Can you share a few personal tips or advice on being a successful business owner?

We hear a lot of (sad) stories about amazing brands/products/ideas that unfortunately fail - no matter how awesome their concept is. I think what helped us was the time we took (2 years+) really learning, developing, and strategizing. You don’t want to wait TOO long, but you must be thoughtful, strategic, and intentional. Also, don’t take NO for an answer. Take it as “not right now” OR find another way to YES - whatever it might be.

How Do You Stay Motivated?

We as a company are motivated daily when we receive emails, messages, and more from customers who tell us how our broth has changed the life of their pups, or extended their lives. It never gets old, and it motivates us to keep going, keep growing, and get our product to as many pet parents as possible.

How Do You Choose New Variations and Recipes for Your Broths?

We look at the market - we see what’s out there, what’s lacking and what the new research in pet health is turning up. We also track human health trends (pet trends follow human food trends) and love getting customer feedback. Our broths are all-natural and human grade, so a LOT goes into decisions for us regarding formulation, new flavors, etc.

What Is One Unexpected Twist or Turn You Have Encountered in Your Business Journey (Either With Brutus Broth or Before That) That Turned Out to Be Positive?

Getting a call to be on Shark Tank in 2020. We ended up saying NO because it was during COVID. I was living in Hawaii at the time so with all of the quarantine rules, I would have had to quarantine for over a month and just could not do that. It turned out to be positive because we probably would have given half our business away for pennies. To date, we are still bootstrapped.

Tell our readers where they can follow you and keep up with your brand!

We’re @brutusbroth across all social channels!

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Paige Chernick is a Social Media and Communications expert living in NYC. For 10 years, she ran her own consulting company called PaigeKnowsFirst where she managed social content & strategy for many brands, finding her niche within the pet industry.

Paige has been a guest contributor for several publications and featured in articles on her successes with pets and social media. Paige’s rescue dog, Charlie, famously known by her social media handle @puppynamedcharlie, has accumulated hundreds of thousands of fans and made her a successful pet influencer early on in the game. Paige is also one of the Founders of The Pet Summit, a conference in the pet industry for creators and marketers, where she used her experience to create programs and classes to help guide and teach others.

In 2022, Paige became the Social Media Director for PRIDE+GROOM. She is now the Senior Vice President of Communications and remains very immersed in the pet industry on both the corporate side and the influencer side.