Meredith Bennett is a passionate entrepreneur and visionary business owner of Devoted Human, an e-commerce company located in Asheville, NC, focused on cat and dog-related products made by artists and craftsmen. Devoted Human provides artists and craftsmen with a way to reach a wider audience while giving back to grassroots animal rescue organizations. Before officially launching her business in November 2016, Meredith sought help from the Western Women’s Business Center, a program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund, where she received technical assistance in areas of finance and human resources. As a result, Meredith was able to officially launch her business and hire four part-time contractors as part of her team.
CSBDF: Tell us about your business.
Meredith: Devoted Human is an e-commerce company focused on American artist and craftsman-made products for cats, dogs, and the people who love them. In addition to helping artists succeed here in Asheville and beyond, we’re also donating to a different grassroots animal rescue organization each month. In this way, we’re providing our customers with higher quality products while giving back to the communities where our artists are located.
CSBDF: How did your business get started? What was the inspiration that started it all?
Meredith: A couple of years ago, I started thinking about how there were lots of dog-focused shops, but no cat-focused shops. You can buy cat-related products online, but most of the items are cheap, cheesy, and made overseas. I began dreaming about having a shop in downtown Asheville that offered unique, handcrafted products with a cat theme: cat trees and platforms, jewelry, clothing, cat toys, etc. As I continued to work on the idea, I realized that I should offer these kinds of products for both cats and dogs. One of the things that was holding me back was the challenge of inventory and getting a spot downtown. Having worked with and for several e-commerce companies, it made the most sense to set this up on an e-commerce platform rather than creating a brick and mortar store. Plus, it allows me to connect with customers all over the country.
CSBDF: How do you define success in your life?
Meredith: What matters most to me is that I’m making an impact on the world. I like this quote from Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” I define my success by how much value I feel that I’m providing to others and to our community.
CSBDF: How has Carolina Small Business helped you?
Meredith: I originally met the team in the lunchroom at the AB Tech Small Business Center while I was working for Plum Print. Since going out on my own, I’ve gotten help from the team in areas like finance, loan information, and human resources.
CSBDF: What were the most difficult issues you faced?
Meredith: While I’ve worked with and for a number of e-commerce companies, I’ve never been part of the initial set-up. I had to learn a lot about how to make everything work from a technical perspective. I built my site on the Shopify platform which has helped a great deal. Shopify has the most incredible tech support team! I couldn’t have done it without them and without the help of my programmer.
“What matters most to me is that I’m making an impact on the world. I like this quote from Albert Einstein, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” I define my success by how much value I feel that I’m providing to others and to our community. ” - Meredith Bennett