Pet food is big business, and no one understands it better than Lisbet Firman, ’21.
A recent graduate of NIU, she serves as a writing and marketing associate for The Simple Food Project and Herbsmith, two growing pet food companies that promote the use of “small batches of whole foods and US-sourced ingredients.”
After earning her degree in English, Firman moved to suburban Milwaukee with her fiancé Jason and their sheepdog, Blue. She began working as a part-time freelance writer for The Simple Food Project and her sister company Herbsmith in August 2021 and quickly moved into a full-time position.
“The Simple Food Project makes raw freeze-dried recipes and treats for dogs and cats. Each recipe contains only 16 real whole ingredients, including chicken, beef, trout, apples, cranberries, and green beans in species-appropriate proportions. There are no synthetics, artificial preservatives, or by-products,” he said. “Herbsmith focuses on ‘curating’ each pet’s bowl to fit their specific health needs, whether it be for specific nutraceuticals, herbs or antioxidants. Our products range from supplements for joint support, digestive health, dental care and more, all created with only natural ingredients!”
While pets can’t see the commercials or read the ads, their owners get the message about the companies’ quality ingredients. And once pets taste the difference in fresh food, they quickly buy.
“Honestly, I can’t even describe the difference I’ve seen in my own dog since I started feeding her Simple Food Project recipes and Herbsmith supplements,” Firman said. “She’s so much healthier and happier, which really makes me feel good that I’m working for a company that changes pets’ lives for the better.”
According to a recent report by Grand View Research, the global pet food market size was valued at $94.76 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach nearly $100 billion by the end of this year. Firman’s messages help grow their businesses through innovative means.
“I help with projects ranging from email and social media marketing campaigns to market research and writing product descriptions for our website and Amazon,” Firman said. “It is a very fast paced, creative and collaborative work environment, in which I have always thrived. I love being able to do extensive research, whether it’s about other products on the market or different health conditions in pets, and then put that research into writing and branding.”
Firman’s most recent project is leading the companies’ new and revamped Brand Ambassador Program. For this show, he focuses on networking with pet influencers on social media platforms to create partnerships between The Simple Food Project and Herbsmith and their adorable cats and dogs.
“I recently reached out to Mission II on Instagram because I loved ‘Mission Mondays’ when I was a student at NIU,” said Firman. “I was so happy to send you some of our Simple Food Project freeze dried treats to try!”
Mission trainer Lisa Boland confirms that Mission gobbles up their Simple Food Project meals, preferring them to everything else!
In addition to the satisfaction of knowing he’s helping pets and their families, Firman says there are other benefits to his role. For example, there are five dogs, or “co-woofers,” running around your office every day.
“Our company is made up of a close-knit group of employees who share a passion for marketing, writing, and of course, our pets!” Firman said. “It really feels like a family.”
Growing up in the small town of Ingleside, Illinois, Firman was always drawn to the power of the written word.
“As a child, I had a huge imagination and loved creating and writing my own stories,” she said. “My mom has worked at our local library since I was five years old, so I was always reading and surrounded by books. As I got older, I started to write a lot, especially poetry. In high school, English became one of my favorite classes because I loved the analytical yet creative freedom it allowed me to have.”
Firman’s parents met while she was a student at NIU in 1980 and had taken her to campus several times as a child.
“I fell in love with the beautiful campus. It’s the only college I applied to because I was so sure I wanted to be a Huskie!” she said.
When she started at NIU in 2017, Firman was unsure about her future career. Always enjoying school, he found it difficult to narrow her interests down to a specific major.
“I took a lot of fascinating courses at NIU, trying to find what suited me, but after my first two semesters of introductory English classes, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue,” she said. “During those two semesters, my professors encouraged me to test my critical thinking and imagination, which really encompassed what I was passionate about growing up.”
Once Firman decided to pursue English with an emphasis on writing, she truly found herself at NIU.
“I was always a bit reserved growing up, but my teachers and peers really pushed me out of my comfort zone to gain my voice and build my confidence, whether it was through group projects, public speaking, or reading my writing to other members. from the Creative Writing Club,” she said. “All of the NIU teachers were approachable and always willing to help me edit and improve my writing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed her in-person college experience in the spring of her junior year. While it was difficult, Firman says the online classes prepared her for her future career.
“He helped me by instilling the importance of time management, hard work ethic and responsibility,” he said. “All of the NIU teachers were amazing during times of uncertainty and always went above and beyond to help during stressful times.”
After graduating, Firman had faith that she would find her place as a writer, but she wasn’t sure what her first job would be.
“When I saw the job offer from Herbsmith and The Simple Food Project, I knew it was the perfect match for me. The pets that I had growing up and have now mean the absolute world to me, so I knew I would really be passionate about what I would do every day,” he said. “Honestly, this is an amazing company that exceeds the standards of optimal health and wellness for pets. I love hearing praise from customers because I know how much care goes into the making of each product. Knowing that I am contributing to something that changes the lives of animals makes me very proud.”