The typical office routine has changed greatly for Lucy Postins, who 20 years ago started pet food company The Honest Kitchen as a healthy alternative for dogs and cats (watch her startup story in the video above). Gone are the days when staff and four-legged creatures alike roamed the office at the former Wonder Bread factory in San Diego. But with the pandemic finally easing, good change is on the horizon in terms of new digs, an expanded cat food line and a slew of new customers as a result of pet adoption during the pandemic.
The British-born Postins reduced her hours in 2017 to regain more work-life balance as she raises teen-age daughters and mentors other female entrepreneurs. The company, which now has about 70 employees, posted nearly 40% growth in 2021.
We asked Postins to share how she works now.
Are you currently remote or in-person or hybrid?
Remote-only. We opted not to renew our office lease when the pandemic began but we’re incredibly excited to be building out a brand new office space in San Diego’s Mission Valley area. We expect to move in once renovations are complete, later this summer.
What has changed the most about how you work, since the pandemic?
We initially halted all business travel but it is beginning to resume now. Personally I was already used to working from home so not much has actually changed in terms of the way I work, other than more focus on team-wide connections. For example, we now have weekly all-hands Zoom meetings.
Which did you prefer – working in-person or working remotely?
I’m perfectly happy with both. I definitely enjoy spending less time on the commute. Our staff have a mix of opinions; some are excited to get back to the office and others are looking forward to continuing to work from home.
How did the pandemic impact your bottom line?
We’ve seen unprecedented surges in demand for our products. Pet ownership increased dramatically during the pandemic, and in addition to that, many pet owners ended up spending much more time with their pets, which I think increased awareness about health. This in turn led to a lot of people researching more about the links between food and health, and making decisions to invest in better quality human-grade nutrition in order to support their pets’ health and wellbeing.
What time do you get up?
6.15am. I’ve become more of an early riser over the years – our animals are pretty regimented schedule-followers. We have a small ranch where we spend some of our time. Getting up with the sunshine really helps to set up the day, feeding the animals and doing chores before breakfast.
What pets do you have?
We have two dogs, Parker (a Border Terrier) and Rowan (a Rhodesian Ridgeback) as well as a one-eyed cat named Solovino.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
I check for any urgent emails when I first wake up.
What’s your Zoom background?
Just my office wall, cupboard and door! But pets are frequent interrupters at Honest Kitchen Zoom meetings and I’m no exception. Most Zooms are accented with a bark, a demand for attention or a tail moving between someone and their camera.
During the work day I can’t live without…
Herbal tea. I have a pretty broad collection in addition to traditional black tea drunk the British way.
What’s your favorite WFH procrastination activity?
Laundry. Both our daughters are still at home.
Do you have a preferred social-media platform?
I use Instagram and Facebook but I’m consciously trying to cut down.
The best thing that the pandemic has done for the workplace is…
Helped us to be more conscientious of company-wide connections, including empathy for those who are full-time remote workers.
What’s the latest skill you’ve acquired?
I’ve been brushing up my cooking skills and trying more varied recipes, including vegetarian options. I love Nigel Slater’s cookbooks because of his relaxed approach to both ingredients and quantities. I’ve also tried to work on a few more slightly technical dishes in Thomas Keller’s MasterClass series. One of the biggest hits has been his short ribs recipe, which takes about 3 days to make.
What do you miss the most from the “before” times?
I miss the mindset of being generally pretty relaxed about germs!
Does your work day have a hard stop?
No, I work sporadically on an as-needed basis at any time of the day or evening.
How do you de-stress?
Walking my dogs, working out and daily meditation.
Where did you go on your most recent vacation?
Steamboat Springs. We love Colorado in any season but our most recent trip was this past winter to enjoy the snow, after having to cancel our trip to see family in Europe due to last-minute Covid restrictions.
These have been trying times. What are you the most hopeful about?
From a business standpoint, I’m hopeful that supply chains and transportation will normalize as those are our biggest hindrances at the moment. From a personal perspective, I’m very grateful to have a healthy work-life balance while furthering my meditation practice and continuing to support other female founders through seed investments, board work and mentoring.