Pictured above: Solo, co-owner of Woofbowl and mother of two dogs: Latto (the inspiration behind Woofbowl's logo) and Dino (pictured here).
*portrait inspiration: Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo da Vinci
Woofbowl was founded in 2017, when owners Ron and Solo decided to turn their passion of dogs and nutrition into a cool and fun experience.
Dogs do amazing work to help veterans like Ron who suffer from PTSD deal with their symptoms, so in 2011 they became dog parents to two French Bulldogs, Latto and Dino, one year apart. Solo came up with the idea to serve healthy dog food after noticing a remarkable change in her dogs after switching them to a raw diet. It led her on a path of learning and absorbing as much as she could on the “truth” about canine nutrition and continues her dedication to animal welfare through Woofbowl, a Brooklyn based company.
Woofbowl is owned by a husband and wife team and what many don't know is they come from humble beginnings.
Ron was raised by a single mother and grew up in zip code 53206 of inner-city Milwaukee - the zip code that incarcerates the highest percentage of black men in America. A game he use to play with his friends growing up was who can match the murder chalk outlines in the street the best. He refused to succumb to drugs and crime, and used basketball and academics to rise above. He became a nationally ranked point guard and was recruited by top universities and colleges across the nation. Despite early struggles, he was honorably discharged from the US Navy (after having trained 10,000+ personnel) and graduated summa cum laude from his alma mater where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a focus on Pre-Law. Ron also went on to earn his MBA and became an author of several books.
Solo is a refugee who came to America at only two weeks old. Her family survived Khmer Rouge's genocidal regime where people were forced into brutal labor camps. Many died from disease and starvation and more than a million, including some of her family members, were tortured and executed in the Killing Fields. Her mother trekked on foot through mine filled woods in torrential rain all while with a child in tow and pregnant with another to not 1, but 2, countries to escape. Solo's father is a former doctor, but intentionally burned his paperwork because the Khmer Rouge was killing anyone who was an intellectual. With no trace of their education, they cleaned toilets and scaled raw fish for a living as 2 of their 4 jobs to keep food on the table in America. Her parents' biggest dream was for her to become an engineer. She gave up going to basketball camp with the rest of her teammates in the summer to take accelerated college math courses while in middle and high school. Her parents funded those courses with what they could save doing back breaking work. Solo became an electrical and biochemical engineer and it was her career for 13 years prior to Woofbowl.
TEST OF RESILIENCE
Lost Entire Savings to Contractor
It was extremely hard for Solo to give up her career because of what it deeply meant to her family. She quit her job thinking the contractor would soon be completing the custom build of their truck. They gave the contractor their savings to find after 9 months of delays, the contractor did nothing to the truck and had filed for bankruptcy. Woofbowl wasn't able to recover any funds.
So now, their life savings were gone, they were stuck in their commercial kitchen lease, and also their entire inventory had to be discarded. Woofbowl had no investors and even family told them to quit, but Ron and Solo strongly believed in Woofbowl. They knew their only option was to move forward in finding a new builder. With this they had to take on more debt and make more sacrifices - physically and mentally.
The COVID-19 crisis hit hard. It put Woofbowl into a vicious tail spin and made Ron & Solo feel like they were building the business for a 3rd time. Sales dropped almost 90%. In the unprecedentedly difficult time they were forced to navigate quickly, rise up to the challenge, and find creative ways to improve cash flow.