Rochester Hills couple builds gourmet catnip company from scratch

Rochester Hills couple Rich and Lisa Jackson launched gourmet catnip company Skinny Pete's Gourmet Catnip this fall, though they've been developing their products and working the floors of trade shows for longer than that.

It was in 2014 when Rich, a professional director and visual effects artist -- wife Lisa is a producer -- was sitting at a coffee shop, working on an illustration of a cat. While listening to National Public Radio on his headphones, a story came across detailing a growing industry: Gifts for pets.

Around that same time, Rich noticed that wild catnip was growing in their garden. Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit, the Jacksons saw an opportunity. And thus the seeds for Skinny Pete's Gourmet Catnip company were sown.

The Jacksons say there are two main focuses of their business. Their catnip is a high-quality, organic catnip. So much so, in fact, that they say that it makes for a good tea suitable for human consumption.

The other aspect that separates their product from the pack is the Skinny Pete packaging. The gourmet catnip is sold in packages of three varieties: Blue Meowy Wowy, Furmaceutical Grade, and Purruvian Pink. The catnip comes in artfully designed tins, keeping the product fresh and fresh-looking.

"We have three cats at the house, and they each respond to the catnip differently," says Rich Jackson. "Panda responds as if its a stimulant. The one we call Skinny Pete gets real lethargic. And Tucker gets real lovable and affectionate."

"Cats that ingest it act differently than the ones inhaling it."

Though they've only been officially on the market for a month or so, the Jacksons say that the response has been fantastic. The main bulk of their sales come directly from their website, though they also sell at local independent retailers. The Jacksons sell cat-related apparel and poster on their website, as well.

"One thing we've noticed with our clients is that they really love their cats," says Lisa Jackson. "There are real emotional connections there."

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Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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