Kasey Dunn and Sofia Bonilla just make sense. Two women in business. A Yin to a Yang if you will. So let’s get to know Kasey and how she and Sofia came to be the dynamic duo at the heart of HOPE Pet Food.
Disney Princess Turned Business Queen
Our Very own Kasey Dunn used to be a part of the Disney world believe it or not. Look closely and you might just see the Disney Princess in her. Animals certainly love her like something out of a Disney movie and Kasey returns that love 10 fold. However, we might argue that she’s grown from a Disney princess into The Queen of Business and Entrepreneurship.
Kasey began with a career in acting and played the part of a princess for about 10 years. “Everything you’ve ever heard about the acting industry is true,” she says. When she came up against the sexism and a lack of true creative freedom in the acting industry, she began to think of ways that she could satisfy her creative itch. This led her to start her own business running a small studio space. Initially, she wanted an area where she could work on her own projects and rent the space out to other creatives when she wasn’t using it. However, the idea snowballed into a huge success and suddenly she became apart of women in business. Her studio space was filling a need in the industry and it became completely booked out, so she pushed it further. She opened up a second studio space and low and behold, that one became quickly booked out too!
Kasey realized that her creative nature and innate business sense were working together in harmony while building her business from the ground up. She found she could be way more creative in entrepreneurship then she ever could in acting or Disney Princess-ing!
So Kasey decided to journey back into academia to do a masters in entrepreneurship.
Learning The Reality
Tell me a STEVE!
We can all name a successful Steve. Whether we know one personally or if Steve Jobs comes to mind, the list of successful Steve’s is pretty much endless. Now, how many successful women entrepreneurs come to mind? Or women of colour? Or indigenous women? It’s not that there aren’t amazing examples of successful businesswomen who have started and run successful companies. Sure they’re fewer and farther between then the Steves, (for unfortunate obvious reasons) but they’re there and they’re fierce. So, it begs the question why aren’t they talked about in school? In books, in textbooks, in lecture halls?
As Kasey embarked on her journey into entrepreneurial studies she began to notice this exact issue in academia and in business. Not to mention, if you ever have had the opportunity to meet Kasey, you know that something she notices does NOT go unchanged. So, she dedicated her thesis to balancing out the Steve’s with amazing and powerful women in business. She’s working towards creating a more equal opportunity field in the world of startups and entrepreneurship. As she’s an entrepreneur herself, it’s a cause close to home.
Another cause close to her heart is animal welfare. She’s fostered countless rescue animals since she was very young.
Needless to say, the plea of animals in need has never fallen on deaf ears when it comes to Kasey. She’s headed a number of animal advocacy groups and spearheaded policy change in Toronto and the surrounding areas. How often do you see puppies or kittens for sale in a pet store these days? Not many carry them anymore because of the by-laws Kasey has helped push through. She also has several rescue dogs and cats as permanent members of her family and she continues to help animals in need whenever she can.
A Yin and A Yang: Two Women in Business
As Kasey started working through her masters at Queen’s University, she also began teaching and guiding entrepreneurs through the beginning stages of creating a business at a UofT’s ICUBE incubator. That’s where the magic of Sofia meets Kasey came about. Sofia was apart of a boot camp program at the incubator. Kasey dove into working with Sofia on her new business concept of alternative proteins (read about Sofia’s story here if you haven’t already). They realized there was a disconnect between the potential product and the potential target audience.
At the time Sofia knew she wanted to do something with alternative proteins. However, what that something was had yet to be determined. She was floating around the idea of creating a feed for commercial agriculture. While working through the boot camp Sofia had the Ah-Ha moment of creating an alternative protein pet food company.
“When she pitched the idea on day 2 of the Bootcamp, it gave me goosebumps”
It All Just Made Sense.
As a passionate animal lover and animal welfare advocate her whole life Kasey was immediately intrigued by the idea. The intersection of all these roads just became so clear during Sofia’s final pitch. Kasey believed it was the right idea at the right time: the current protein supply and demand just aren’t sustainable as the population continues to grow. The sustainability side of HOPE appealed to her too.
So she was on board with the concept but, as Kasey came to know Sofia as a person she began to have more and more faith in her abilities. Kasey quickly realized Sofia has the know how to take this concept and transform it into an actual business. With Sofia’s education, background and experiences working around the world, Kasey saw that this business venture could very well be a success so she hoped on board and was officially Sofia’s partner in this hope filled venture!
Jumping on the HOPE evolution seemed the only course of action for Kasey. It aligned with her personal values and checked all the boxes for a successful startup to her. Joining HOPE is a way for Kasey to live more in alignment with her values by contributing to a more sustainable future, animal welfare, and to women in business.
And so, the dynamic duo was formed.
Learn more about HOPE Pet Food.