Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Boone.
Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I thought I was keeping my Luna safe by using common flea-and-tick medication and pest control services. Then she started suffering devastating side effects including hot spots, seizures, and liver and kidney failure. My vet told me she had lived a long life and recommended I put her down, but that was never an option for me. When you love someone, you do everything in your power to protect them, so I started researching ingredients in the products I was using on, in, and around her for pest protection. I was shocked to learn they contained neurotoxic poisons. That means the ingredients go throughout the body and create life-threatening issues.
And we weren’t alone in our experience – by a long shot. So many animals and humans suffer from harmful pesticide exposure. We’re all doing the best we can, buying more and more organic produce, being mindful about what’s in our personal care products, but we’re still putting harmful pesticides, directly on and in our dogs and cats, while spraying our homes and yards with solutions that aren’t safe for them or us.
After I tried every “natural” solution in the market and nothing worked like I needed it to, I felt called to step up and develop safe pest protection so no family would have to go through what Luna and I did.
So that’s when I just did it. I quit my day job. I became a mad scientist, reading voraciously, trying out ideas, and nothing “natural” (from home remedies to retail products) would protect as I needed it to. Then, I had an Aha! moment. I was sitting on the cedar chest that my grandmother gave me (who had recently passed) when I realized that cedar had been used for centuries to protect things we care about – think cedar chest full of quilts. I immediately reached out to an extraction facility to look into how to get cedar oil and was thrilled. It was a sustainable solution. That was important because I didn’t want to compromise the planet to help families.
I cleaned out my garage and put up a bunch of shelves, started mixing tinctures and put them in little bottles. I passed my trials around to family and friends to try out. Then, I found the formulations that worked the best and took those to the efficacy labs to have supporting data. We confirmed “Yes, this works!”
I founded Wondercide over a decade ago with pest protection for pets, families, and homes on my mind and in my heart. Today, we call our origin story “Fierce Love”(™). The best part is that Luna and I had another 6 years together as we built the company.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Smooth, what’s that? I never intended to be an entrepreneur, and my background certainly didn’t prepare me for running a complex company. I was a property tax consultant when this calling found me. And I didn’t have a college degree boosting me up with a well-rounded education. But I was resourceful and disciplined. I leaned in and learned all about supply chain, manufacturing facilities, pricing strategies, channel strategies, and how to build a successful e-commerce business (10 years ago, y’all!).
I had no experience with chemistry, product development, regulatory compliance or strategic business planning in my past life. I had to learn about making products – not just how it works, but how it stays shelf stable, how to package in plastic, gram weights, different types of materials, compatibility, and safety standards. When mixing oil/water the solution didn’t always remain so we had to learn how to keep it shelf-stable. You would think the bottle and cap could come from the same manufacturer but they don’t. Then there were all the science and physical considerations, I mean, things could melt.
Everyone said the way to do CPG is find someone to make your product, raise money, then get it into retail….we didn’t do this. I always trusted my gut. The really scary times in my business were always about growth and going to the next level.
In 2010, I moved from my garage into my first building. It was 300 sq. ft. in the back of a pet store – in a bathroom store room! We do what we have to do to make it work. I actually watched a YouTube video about how to pull out the toilet and put carpet down! My dad and I built the production tables and constructed shelves. We were scrappy and determined.
I took on personal debt to keep growing the business. Eventually, we moved from the bathroom space to a 1,000 square foot office warehouse. Firsts were always exciting and nerve racking.
And the day we launched in Austin at the Pecan Street Festival. Our booth was in front of a massive pothole where people were falling into injury (and never saw us!) and that’s not saying anything about our journey to get to Austin, product lost on the highway, pets running out of our caravan and being found. Nothing was going to stop us! Determination and taking the next best step always served us well.
And then of course last year the pandemic hit. Thankfully, being in the business of keeping families safe from bugs that harm meant we were an essential business. I can’t tell you how many days I counted my blessings that we could keep our staff employed and the families who count on us protected. We hit a milestone too during the pandemic: Over 1 million families protected by Wondercide. I’m always humbled and thankful in this journey.
As many other parents have found, the balance between work and family became even more challenging. Extra steps to our daily routine were gladly taken to ensure safety and health, but what I couldn’t seem to manage perfectly were the kids running around and popping onto Zoom calls to talk about why they love dinosaurs or my dog Roe deciding he’d give me puppy kisses as I was trying to make a really important point to the team.
Certainly, I have a lot to be grateful about, but there have been fears, doubts, and challenges all along the way. I’ve embraced the lean in. It’s all about taking the next best step. The one your gut tells you to take, guided by love for families of every kind, everywhere. That keeps us on the right path.
Recent challenges have kept us on our toes. Like so many other businesses we’ve had sourcing issues, it’s been tough to hire because of national incentives that made not working lucrative, and customers want their orders quickly but the postal carriers have struggled to keep up with volume. There’s progress though and I’m always grateful because my team leans in with grit, they’re curious enough to find solutions, and we always keep moving forward.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Wondercide?
Wondercide pioneered safe, plant-based products that keep families safe from bugs that can harm, like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. We were disruptive from the start when I realized we weren’t alone in the suffering caused from pesticide poisoning. Families everywhere were impacted. At that time, vets were able to prescribe neurotoxins and manufacturers didn’t have to report the risks or side effects. With other families, we lobbied to get that changed, proving grassroots advocacy can work. Now, there are requirements around labeling and data share.
Our signature line of pest protection is powered by plant-based ingredients with cedarwood as the main active ingredient. Of course, down here in the south, cedar trees sort of take over, and they’re considered a nuisance in that they absorb a tremendous amount of groundwater and the pollen (which isn’t part of our formula) causes terrible allergies. People are constantly clearing their land of cedar trees, and I was excited to find a solution that could also be sustainable. That was unheard of in the pest control space. We took a family-first, planet-conscious approach and made the commitment to source locally, to turn liabilities into assets wherever possible in our process, and to only use safe ingredients. We only test on the bugs our solutions are designed to eliminate.
We’re driven by a Fierce Love® for families. It’s the go-to-the-ends-of-the-earth-for-you, do-all-we-can-for-you kind of love.
We wake up every day inspired by our mission to protect families of every kind, everywhere from pests with safe, effective solutions. We work with Nature to deliver products that promote well-being. And we do all of this so families can live long, happy, and healthy lives together. I can’t imagine what’s better than that.
We’ll be rolling out new products that keep Packs (families) protected while flexing with the times. Next up is a Fruit Fly trap to contain these bothersome bugs and we recently launched an Ant & Roach aerosol that’s powered by plants and CO2, without ozone-depleting mechanisms. We’re proud of that.
The pandemic raised our awareness to the potential for supply chain disruption and we’ll continue to find ways to be prepared and sustain productivity.
As a progressive company that exists to protect Packs of every kind, everywhere, we’re continuing the foundational work we’ve done as a company around equality and our advocacy for change. We’re thinking in bigger ways about corporate social responsibility, how the decisions we make now can have a positive impact on what we make, families’ health, and the world we all share.
We’re re-evaluating how to operate in ever-evolving, uncertain time and learning to stay agile as we continue rapid growth. Grit and perseverance is in our DNA and we’ll continue to know better and do better as we go.
We’ll keep leaning into our “why” and being there for the families who count on us too.
- Our signature Flea & Tick spray for Pets + Home (safe for dogs and cats of all ages and for use throughout the home) starts at just $12.99, and we have samples of each of our four industry-exclusive scents available for $1.99 each or a scent sampler box for $9.99 that lets you try them all. The best part about the sampler box is that we share a percent of the proceeds with a wonderful organization, Dog is My CoPilot. They rescue pets from at-risk shelters and fly them to cities where loving families are waiting to adopt and foster. We’ll be announcing more about our continued partnership with this organization later this year.
- Our Insect Repellent protects people of all ages and comes in the same four scents as our sprays for pets and home: Cedarwood, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Lemongrass. They’re all powered by natural essential oils and sell for $12.99.
- To protect the yard and garden, we offer convenient ready-to-use Flea & Tick for Yard and Garden (great for pet parents) or Outdoor Pest Control (designed for those who want to get rid of mosquitoes and ants outside). Each is offered at $34.99 and covers up to 5,000 sq feet. The ready-to-use bottles each are refillable with our concentrates and we offer discounted refill kits too: Flea & Tick Yard Spray Refill Starter Kit with Natural Essential Oils and Mosquito Yard Spray Refill Starter Kit with Natural Essential Oils
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