Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica Callais- Falbaum.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
PEP! is the Pet Education Project. We are educating and inspiring kids to be responsible pet owners and animal heroes.
PEP!’s story began when I volunteered at a local shelter and realized how many animals were surrendered daily. It was daunting to know that for every one animal we were able to save, there were hundreds that just never had the chance to leave the shelter alive. I realized that just about every animal surrendered could have been prevented through education. From day one, my goal was to end pet overpopulation, abuse, neglect, and euthanasia and we are on our way to do just that.
This led me to start PEP! which was originally founded as a non-profit organization to visit schools and educate kids on responsible pet ownership. Our innovative and fun approach has gained recognition worldwide. We have reached over 500,000 kids from around the globe, published a children’s book, established 9 national chapters, shot a tv pilot, and performed PEP! Talks from New York all the way to Hawaii. Not only do we reach kids in schools, we are reaching thousands of kids each day through the use of apps like musical.ly where I host live broadcasts and produces youth focused pet care videos.
Our work has been featured in People Pets, Daily Mail, CBS Nightly News, Catster Magazine, and we will be featured on the Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family television show on November 20.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
PEP! been a decade in the making. It has never been ‘easy’ per say but it’s always been fun. I started without an ounce of knowledge on how to run a non-profit or business. All I had was the will to make the world a better place for animals. This was not an initiative from a board of people who wanted to help lower the shelter population in our community, I simply was a young adult looking to make a difference. So I started off the only way I knew how and that was by actually going out and doing the work of educating youth in our community.
I started out by visiting one class and before we knew it, we had people from all around the world contacting us to bring PEP! into their own community.
One of the biggest struggles and hurdles we have crossed was the fact that we were volunteer run for our first 7 1/2 years. I was working a full-time job while running PEP! as a volunteer. Just in November 2016, I was able to quit my full-time job to pursue PEP! full time and we have grown leaps and bounds since.
The lack of funding is another struggle, but this struggle also gave me the idea to launch my own company to create a sustainable source of revenue for our non-profit. Proceeds from our product sales will help fund our mission.
One of my biggest challenges is that I cannot keep up with the demand. It is a great problem to have, but it is hard feeling like you are falling short despite the fact that I work 12-14 hour days 7 days a week. I am looking forward to the day we can hire a second employee!
Until then, I will keep working as hard as I can!
PEP! The Pet Education Project – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We specialize in youth-focused pet education products and media to inspire kids to love and care for their pets. We have created a program like no other. Our colorful aesthetic, brand, and characters captures the attention of kids from around the world. Our Founder has become a centerpiece and role model and has inspired so many kids to be animal heroes as well.
We are most proud of how we inspire the kids we reach to become active in their communities to help animals. We are constantly getting comments, emails, and messages of how kids have volunteered, donated, or even spayed and neutered their pets because of our programs!
We are not your ordinary humane education program. We are a culture and we are changing the way society views and perceives the way they care for their pets!
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, success is defined by how many lives we impact through our programs, services, and products. The fact that over half a million kids have learned what it takes to be a responsible pet owner is a great success in itself. But as far as my long-term goals, we still have ways to go.
I have a huge imagination and my sense of youth allows me to still believe in my dreams no matter how crazy or unattainable they may seem.
I aim to have a PEP! presence in every state and country one day. We want to be parent’s and educator’s first choice when it comes to pet education.
Our big goals include a TV show, traveling stadium tours, and having our products in pet stores across America and the world!
- $150 PEP! Humane Educator Membership
- $25 PEP! Squad, The 5 Steps to a happy and Healthy Pet
- Website: www.ilovepep.org
- Phone: 3189871321
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/peteducationproject
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/peteducationproject
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/ilovepep
- Other: www.youtube.com/peteducationproject
Erica Callais Falbaum