Proudly homegrown in Country Victoria, Bear and Kind is a pet care brand designed to give pawrents healthy and gentle grooming and well-being products for their furbabies. Named after their very own product testers and resident cuddle bears, and also the natural simplicity of their products, Bear and Kind creates organic, eco-friendly, and vegan skin and coat care for dogs which are handmade on their little farm in Barkly (no pun intended).
We sat down with Sherry, the founder of Bear and Kind, to chat a bit more about how the idea of natural pet care products came about, and why creating simple and sustainable products is a key part of the brand’s mission. We absolutely loved chatting to Sherry and getting her best tips to create a healthy grooming routine for your own pups. Keep on reading to learn more about the wonderful work Sherry is doing with Bear and Kind, and where the brand is headed in the future!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started Bear and Kind?
I have been in the pet care industry full-time for 18 years (PR and marketing before that) including running a grooming salon and kept seeing puppers coming in with all kinds of rashes and allergy problems. At the time there was not much available in terms of natural shampoos and these dogs kept having reactions to everything. I formulated the first range with my Dad and it worked really well. Not one dog had any negative reaction to it and it sold quite well in our shop and wholesale. It wasn't until years later that I got into soap making and started experimenting with a homemade version. I had been using natural homemade salves and the like on all my animals for years but really started getting into it when I left Melbourne and moved onto our little farm in the country. We are completely off-grid here and do things the old fashioned way (chemical free) where possible. When I started thinking about doing another product line I wanted it to reflect that. That's how Bear and Kind started. It's definitely a family business because the puppers on our website and in a lot of our social posts are either mine or my grandbabies! Bear is my adopted big boy who looks out for my girls, plus I have my great grandbaby Mila who Bear helped to raise, and her daughter Hattie. I love the breed to bits... they only exist in Australia and date all the way back to the early settlers. I started out nearly 10 years ago with Mila's grandmother Sunday.
We love that your entire range is vegan friendly and handmade on your farm. Why was creating sustainable, eco-friendly products important to you?
We do things pretty simply out here and prefer it that way. I had already been making my own balms, oils and shampoos for all the animals here for a while. That evolved into the range we have now with some trial and error and just seeing what worked the best. A few friends have helped by giving us feedback after using the products on their pets as well... I needed to make sure that what worked on my dogs coat type would work on others. After seeing so many pups in the salon with awful painful skin problems I wanted to keep things as natural and gentle as possible. The chemicals and synthetic ingredients in a lot of other products are not just bad for pets they are not great for the environment either so it was a win-win to me to keep that stuff out of the products.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your grooming routine looks like for your furbabies? What would be your best advice for someone looking to start a healthy and gentle grooming routine for their pups?
I have to admit, and a lot of dog groomers will tell you the same thing, that my own dog grooming routine is a little lacking LOL. I've either been busy grooming everybody else's dogs or making products that I don't always have much time. Luckily I have a breed (Murray River Retriever) that is very low maintenance so they don't need a lot of attention. They have a curly coat that doesn't grow as long and afro-like as other curly breeds... it stays fairly short so they don't need much brushing really. The only problem areas are the feathers behind the ears and the backs of the legs. Just running a brush through once a week or a quick tidy every couple of weeks is generally enough for these guys. But in general what I would definitely say to people with new pups is please start grooming them right away... from 8 weeks on... even playing with their paws, brush very lightly or make it fun and put some peanut butter on the back of the brush or a lick mat so that they associate grooming with treats. It's so important. I cannot tell you how many problems we had in the salon over the years with dogs that had horrible anxiety... would sit there and just shake, or the dogs that would become fear aggressive and bite us. It's awful and a lot of owners just have no idea how stressful the whole experience is for their dog and for us, I have had pinched nerves in my hand and lost use of it for over a week from a little Maltese dog bite!
What has been Bear and Kind’s biggest success so far? What does the future hold for Bear and Kind?
I think for me it has been just finally after such a long time perfecting the formulations and the techniques, and designing the product line (and all of the labelling and branding!) that it's finally coming together and new pawrents can try it out. I love chatting to owners and hearing their stories about their furbabies and seeing photos too. Hopefully it will slowly grow bigger and we can establish a nice little community and share stories and helpful information about keeping pets healthy the natural way.