2016 was certainly a great year to be a pet parent and it appears 2017 is shaping up to be even better. With cat and dog cafes and bars percolating across the country, the Friday night social gap between humans and their beloved pets is thinning. Two well-known forefathers of this movement are cat wine creators Brandon Zavala, CEO of Apollo Peak Ltd, and cat Apollo, CFO (Chief Feline Officer). I had the pleasure to learn from them the story behind the hype of the world’s first cat wine and muse about the future of the growing 'pet parent' demographic.
A sampling of Apollo Peak Ltd's cat and dog wines
Brandon Zavala, CEO of Apollo Peak Ltd, says that the idea for cat wine didn't appear overnight. With a previous background of marketing and working in the pet food industry, Brandon slowly mulled over the idea of creating cat wine. Then in 2007, Brandon rescued kitten Apollo. They spent lots of time together and he came to find out that Apollo had a very friendly and engaging personality. However in 2009, Apollo disappeared for two years. Upon Apollo's amazing return, Brandon, family and friends mused about where Apollo had been and it was decided that he was learning how to make cat wines. With this experience in mind and their strong connection together, the business of creating cat wine began to form. Brandon states, “My inspiration was really Apollo. He is a social cat.” Brandon says that Apollo was there and taste testing from the very beginning of the business when they were "crushing beets by hand." Little did they know that together they would build an idea that would take the them to prime time television and influence the growing ideas of pet humanisation across the country.
"My inspiration was really Apollo."
CEO Brandon Zavala with CFO (Chief Feline Officer) Apollo
But what is cat wine? That is a question I too asked myself. Apollo Peak Ltd cat wine is made with all natural ingredients of mineral water, catnip and beets. The catnip allows for your cat to enjoy a little buzz alongside you. With appealing names such as White Kittendel and Pinot Meow, it's hard not to be overwhelmed with brilliant Friday night ideas. However, the main concept behind cat wine is to be able to share quality time with your pet. Brandon states that when your cat or dog is drinking wine along side you, this time is for you and your pet to enjoy each other's company and relax together. He says,
"This is communication time. This is the time to share something with your pet."
Yet, there is more than just cat wine at Apollo Peak Ltd. They have all sorts of organic beverages for cats such as the Meowgarita, Meowmosa or my personal favorite the Meowtini. If you are already overwhelmed, know that they have even more beverages for dogs including dog beer, dog cocktails and Brew Chews which are 100% natural recycled beer grain dog treats. The ingenious naming continues with their dog beverages such as the Malbark, ZinfanTail and CharDOGnay.
Apollo's role in the company as CFO (Chief Feline Officer) is to motivate people and make them happy in the office. He comes every Friday and often another day during the week to encourage colleagues and to taste test the cat beverages. His favorite cocktail right now is the Meowtini!
Apollo with Pinot Meow cat wine
In 2016, Apollo Peak Ltd was featured on Shark Tank and this created a huge media buzz surrounding their brand and the idea of cat wine. While Brandon recognizes that this media opportunity was a once in a lifetime, he sees “the media attention as very normal now.” He was happy to have his name and his brand recognized internationally as the creators of cat wine. While the main demographic of Apollo Peak Ltd's customers are young millennial women, Brandon is looking into introducing this product to more male cat owners. “Im interested in reaching out to more cat guys,” he states. We know they are out there as well!
With the rise in pet ownership, Brandon is excited to acknowledge that a new growing market exists. As our pets integrate more fluidly into our lives by joining our yoga classes, sharing our healthy meals and socializing with us, they are slowly being recognized for the family member that they are. Although current regulations make bringing pets into food and beverage establishments difficult, Brandon states,
"People want to bring their dogs to a bar. This is a niche that most people don’t know about."
Even with these regulations, we see establishments, including some breweries, opening their doors to both humans and dogs. He hopes that through the growing needs of the market, regulations will change. Brandon says that pet parents are also facing challenges, some financial, with renting apartments and houses. He questions, "Why do we have to pay more for a family member to live with us?" He believes that as more and more people have pets, these antiquated regulations will be pushed to change. Brandon also hopes that pet health insurance will become better as the pet parent consumer market grows.
Yet the million dollar question still lingers. If your beloved pet, your family member, can finally go out for a nice night with you or sit and enjoy wine at home, what will be next? If sharing this time together increases our communication and helps us understand our pets better, how will our relationship with our pets improve in the future? As the pet parent consumer market grows, will it soon be possible to communicate with our furry family members on another level entirely? While Brandon and Apollo forge ahead at Apollo Peak Ltd, we will just have to wait and see.
We raise a glass to Brandon and Apollo from Apollo Peak Ltd!
Cheers and Stay Royal!