Donie Yamamoto

Founder of Vital Pet Life

Donie Yamamotois is the founder of Vital Pet Life, a curated line of clean Pet Wellness products, based in Los Angeles. She feels fortunate to combine her two loves; animals and her entrepreneurial drive. In 2017, she started Vital Pet Life when she could not find a soothing, all-natural product for her rescue-dog Tuxedo’s rough, dry skin and coarse coat. After trying products from big-name companies, with ingredients she could not pronounce, she began experimenting with Wild Alaskan salmon oil hoping to soften his hair, relieve his itching, joint pain and inflammation. She started researching her own clean, sustainably sourced, toxin-free solutions, and because she is highly sensitive to chemicals, her focus is on creating only clean, trustworthy products knowing that pets and owners have sensitivities.
In 3 short years, her Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil has become a top seller on Amazon, she had the honor of being chosen as a 2019 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow (for outstanding entrepreneurship) and is launching two more products in mid-2020. Her mission is to create a compassionate and socially aware business that makes a positive impact in its community. She donates and works with local rescue shelters because she believes that all animals deserve a forever family in a loving home.

Where did the idea for Vital Pet Life come from?

The idea of Vital Pet Life started when I was doing production for my botanically- dyed children’s clothing line. I had been trying to find an all-natural product to ease my rescue-dog Tuxedo’s itchy dry skin and coarse coat. When nothing I bought was giving him relief, I began experimenting with Wild Alaskan Salmon oil. As he improved, I shared it with friends and family, who were thrilled to watch their own fur babies’ dry and rough skin become shiny, velvety and itch-free. We found that all our pets also experienced an easing of inflammation, hair loss, increased mobility and calmed allergies. This is when I realized I could channel my passion and determination to help my own fur baby Tuxedo into Vital Pet Life, a pet wellness business dedicated to helping other pet families too.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day is answering customer service emails, fulfilling orders, keeping our production moving and researching new ingredients. My husband and I are always working on different projects day by day, which keeps our business moving.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I spend a lot of time researching new product ideas and resourcing the needed ingredients. I’ll always share my ideas with my husband Kyle and our consultant. If we all concur on its viability, we then map out the process and get started bringing that idea to life and to market.

What’s one trend that excites you?

With an estimated 85 million families or 68% of the U.S having pets in their homes today, I’m thrilled how pet owners are now more conscientious about feeding and supplementing their pets with clean products. I’m also thankful for the availability of pure, sustainable and natural ingredients, with which to source, formulate and create our wellness collection.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The ability to stay focused on my short and long term goals is my most productive habit. I am passionate about creating wellness products to nurture our customers’ fur babies. With this as both my broad and specific daily goal, it helps keep me on target and focused on achieving my goals.

What advice would you give your younger self?

My younger self could have used a bit more patience. As I get older, I am calmer and now process decision making and challenges with the ability to take a step back from the situation, pause and then make a thoughtful better decision.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Trusting your intuition. Oftentimes people make decisions based on data and facts and don’t listen to their intuition. When I have to make a decision, I first listen to how it feels to me, almost a gut response. Does it feel right? I also take into account the hard data about a situation, but because I am an intuitive person I need to make sure it feels right. Doing this has served me well in my past business ventures.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Dream big dreams. Oftentimes people underestimate or limit their goals because at the moment they may not have the means, knowledge or resources to take the leap. Just know that it may take time, many steps but as long as you’re pursuing it and being authentic and honest with yourself about what you want, doors will open and you’ll continue to get closer to achieving your goal.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My overall strategy involves networking; both to grow my brand as well as continuing to grow and learn as an entrepreneur. I surround myself with other business leaders with whom I brainstorm, hear their perspectives while promoting and growing our products and services within our immediate and larger community.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I learned a great deal when my clothing business wasn’t working. I wouldn’t call it a failure, it was more of a challenge from which I learned so much. These “failures” are really moments of growth and education for business owners. These are also great moments for self-compassion and kindness. My lesson was to cut my losses and move on. I learned to pivot, be nimble and resilient.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love a highly reputable sourcing portal where one can find vendors and resources who carry sustainable and clean ingredients/products with integrity. The current method is a bit of a labyrinth for those of us who are passionate about formulating clean, non-toxic products.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I bought a Pilates membership to my neighborhood studio. I love going to my neighborhood Pilates studio for a class at the end of my day. My goal is to go 5 days a week. No phones or screens. It’s my happy place. I focus on my body for 45 minutes, visit with my friends and leave feeling centered, calm and present.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Our team uses Slack, an instant messaging software. We find that it helps us connect with all the members of our nimble team.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Every entrepreneur should read “Body and Soul” by Anita Roddick. I read this book a long time ago, and the principles and vision of Anita’s have stayed and helped me to have the courage and to dream. She writes about bringing your passion, values, and honesty to your business. She built her business on sustainability and transparency, years before these terms became common business buzzwords. Even if the book was written in the 1990s, everything she wrote back then guides and inspires me to run my business today.

What is your favorite quote?

I love Terrence Mckenna’s quote: “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” This quote sums up my life. I always try to be courageous in living my life, dreaming the impossible and just committing.

Key Learnings:

  • Embrace resilience when encountering a challenge
  • Find strength in risk-taking by being nimble and knowing when to pivot
  • Lead through open communication and teamwork
  • Network, brainstorm and broaden your perspective with peers, friends, and colleagues