Five Questions: Kevin Duck, Founder of DuckyWorld Cat Products

Minnesota-based DuckyWorld has made a name for itself by creating a wide range of wacky catnip-filled toys, from sardines to cigars and the ever-popular ‘Pollock Fish’, which is the brand’s interpretation of the Pollock fish. in the ocean if it is painted by Jackson. Pollock. Pet Age recently spoke with the founder/owner of the company, Kevin Duck.

Why was it important to DuckyWorld that its catnip always be organic?

Once I decided to leave the various professions and jobs I had done, I briefly tossed around the idea of ​​pet food and treats, but decided to sell catnip; and not just catnip, but i decided to sell high quality organic catnip. I thought it would be safer for cats. It was 1997 and organic products were not as prevalent as they are now. They told me it was a fad and the organic trend would pass. I saw that the catnip products available at the time were limited, and the catnip used was of lesser quality and filled with some sort of filler and just a pinch of catnip. I knew that once cat owners gave them high quality organic catnip, they would come back for more.

Why do you think the Chi-cat-a Banana Cat toy has become the iconic product of your brand?

After selling only loose catnip at first, we had a brown cigar-shaped toy. We hear many stories of people waking up in the middle of the night and stepping on the cigar thinking the toy was more than just a toy. Think brown, elongated in shape, and maybe drooling. You get the picture. This is how Chi-cat-a-banana was born. Something colorful with a fun bunny kick shape. We think it was one of the first really colorful toys, completely stuffed with organically grown catnip on the market when it was released. It was fun and different.

What have been the benefits of DuckyWorld being a small family business?

We can make decisions pretty quickly and we like to involve anyone who wants to be involved in toy design. We celebrate our birthdays by bringing lunch for everyone. This past Thanksgiving and this past Valentine’s Day we had potlucks. Everyone brought plates to share and we had a feast. It’s about creating what we hope will be a fun, safe, good environment where people want to come to work or at least maybe not be afraid to come to work. In a recent incident of bad weather, we were able to close the office without notice and had a snow day. Our employees and our sewing supplier we work with have become a kind of extended family to us.

How has the cat products industry changed in the last 25 years or more?

People are buying more gifts and enrichment items for their cats than ever before. While the category has grown and more products are available, customers are also becoming more demanding and want the confidence that the products they bring home for their pets are safe and wholesome, while offering good value and entertainment. . This is where we believe our product stands the test of time. All our toys are fully stuffed with our organically grown catnip, wrapped in durable cotton twill (OKEO-Tex certified) and our toys never have strings, buttons or beads that could be accidentally swallowed. We make products with our own cats in mind.

Can you tell us the story behind how Mick Jagger helped create the DuckyWorld name?

Mick and I used to be lovers. [pauses and laughs] No, don’t use that.

In 1994, I got a job as a production manager with a guy in Minneapolis who did concerts. He was aligned with all the good shows. When we got the Rolling Stones show, I needed a crane to lift the speakers to the top of the Metrodome. I called the towing company and ordered the tow truck, and I asked the guy, “Do you have two tow trucks? Can I put one on hold and then have one on site?” He had it in his head that something would happen.

As we’re settling into the Metrodome, the crane is lifting things and it blows a joint. I have an inch and a half of motor oil on the floor in a 30 foot circle. I called the company and then I said, “We blew the meeting. How long would it take to bring the other one here? We’ve got everything lined up, so the show will happen.

It’s a couple of days before the show. There’s a club in Minneapolis called the Rogue, a speakeasy owned by Nick Beavers. Nick calls me and tells me that he’s sitting with Mick and that he wants to sneak in with a couple of guys and play some music at midnight, unannounced. Nick says, “Can you put together a little drum kit and a couple of amps at my club?” I said yes. We set things up, and by midnight, there’s a line around the block.

That night was the first time I spoke to Mick. I’m on the phone and Nick says, “Wait, someone wants to say hi.” He hands Mick the phone and says, “Oh, we’re going to have some fun tonight.” He says, “I wanted to ask you. I heard about this elevator that had a blown joint.” I told him that I have ESP, and I just had a feeling in my head. And he just goes, “You’ve got a DuckyWorld in your head!”