Introducing Carina Evans
To look at Carina Evans, you would never guess the multiple layers that make this woman the powerhouse that she is. With her petite frame and open demeanour, you’d be forgiven for thinking of her as quiet and unremarkable. Think again; just a few minutes in her company and you will be swept away in the whirlwind that is her every day, from managing a £2.5million business, volunteering in the British Army, tobogganing training (yes really), managing a small holding and taking care of her family. In this article we take a look at just what makes her tick.
So, let’s start at the beginning; Carina attributes her business success – she is the CEO and brains behind the award-winning Podium Pet Products – in part to her school days. (We know what you are thinking: Head Girl? Secretary of the Debating Society? Editor of the school magazine?). Think again; just like Carina herself, the reasons are somewhat more understated. “It was the cleaning really”, explained Carina. “There were no cleaners at the school. As pupils we were responsible for the Saturday clean, a deep clean of the whole school which was then scrupulously checked for dust and dirt. I am sure this shaped my approach to my work; I really am a self-confessed bottle washer and all round, hands-on!”
Carina was schooled at an all-girls boarding school called North Foreland Lodge in leafy Hampshire; from midnight feasts and clandestine escape missions to nearby London, as well as playing lacrosse matches and mixing socially with peers from Eton and Radley Colleges, Carina’s school days were happy ones.
Carina – who now lives in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire – mixed with the crème de la crème in these early years; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark along with Princess Katherine of Greece were both former pupils at The Lodge along with a whole host of celebrity socialites including India Hicks, society sisters, Rose and Eloise Anson, Meghan Markle’s close friend Violet von Westenholz and Marina Hanbury who is now the Marchioness of Cholmondy. Winston Churchill also sent one of his daughters there.
The great outdoors
Born in East Devon, near Axminster and Lyme Regis, at the age of 16 Carina moved with her family to her grandmother’s farm near Sherborne in Dorset. With its ancient hedgerows, cattle and fields, so began Carina’s lifelong love affair with the great outdoors. She explained: “Like many other farms, my grandmother’s was very much a family partnership. It taught me the values of self-sufficiency and that hard work really does pay off. I am proud of my farming heritage and am a great supporter of country life and its communities.”
The family was also very horse focused with her mother, Cherry Willoughby owning a number of eventers with the likes of Polly Stockton, Sam Griffiths and Harry Mead. Carina herself was a champion lady point to point rider in Ireland in the early 2000s, riding out for John Hills and Kim Bailey each summer for many years. As an aside she also worked at a pub in Lambourn, owned by the rather infamous racing twins, Henry and David Cecil.
From humble beginnings
Fast forward to 2005; Carina’s passion for realistic animal care is the basis for the launch of her new business, Podium Pet Products. She explains: “The company actually grew from very humble beginnings, basically a desk and a file under the stairs in my cottage. At the time I set it up I didn’t even know what to do with an invoice!” Its success, she says, is simple – it has grown “through sheer hard work and determination.”
A dog’s life
The company launched its first product, Dog Rocks, a year later; in essence it eradicates canine urine burn marks on lawns and shrubs. First discovered in Australia in the late 1990s it is 100 per cent natural. It was around this time that Carina recalled a speech HRH The Prince of Wales made, where he vowed to live a carbon-free lifestyle at home and work including zero plastic usage and upcycling and recycling as much as possible. This speech resonated significantly with Carina and helped her to create her mission statement for her business and personal life, and where she began taking steps to eradicate a reliance on single use plastic.
Taking America by storm
Things then started to take off; the company moved from the sitting room into the garage and now has a dedicated office facility just to keep up with demand. Today its warehouse is housed on a farm within the heart of the Berkshire countryside. By 2011, the company was growing by 40 per cent each year, initially selling Dog Rocks online to an audience of consumers and retailers, while enquiries from wholesalers began too. They then took the business model across the pond and began selling in North America in 2012. And then in 2016 the firm became one of 243 businesses to be awarded The Queen’s Award for International Trade.
Earlier this year the firm launched its natural pet care range called Be:Loved which is focused on bringing natural wellness and stylish lifestyle products to both pets and their owners. The story behind it comes from a much loved family heirloom, an old farmhouse recipe and animal husbandry book, a real treasure chest full of remedies and ointments designed to treat a range of common ailments for both farmers and their animals and all created from what could be found on hedgerows and in nature’s harvest. It is these recipes that Be:Loved’s products are borne from, helping to soothe and nourish problem skin and troublesome paws and noses. Within weeks of its launch, the range won the ‘Best New Product’ Award at pet retail show, PATS 2020.
Be:Loved remains a very hands own brand for Carina and her team. The back office is where the ‘magic happens’ with Carina often found mixing up new recipes and hand pouring samples for testing. This is a business with real heart as Carina openly admits: “Be:Loved has really struck a chord with me. It’s the result of a whole lifetime of being around animals and wanting to provide them with the best possible care. I’m always tweaking recipes and mixing up new ones, and often draft in my two daughters to help hand pour and package samples, during which time they’ve given me some really useful notes. I’ve also been hugely involved in the development of the brand as I am really passionate about creating a range that only does good but looks good. I want to have products that look just gorgeous when displayed around the home, with multi-functionality also incredibly important. Whether it’s upcycling the candle jar, or pets and pet parents enjoying the range together, this is all about creating something beautiful, uncomplicated and good for all involved.”
A force to be reckoned with
Carina isn’t just a successful businesswoman; married to former English polo player Nick Evans, and mother to two girls, Isabella and Marina are 15 and 14 respectively; who both attend Marlborough College. Carina said: “I am super proud of both of my girls, and they really are the driving force behind everything that I do. I was lucky enough to grow-up with a strong matriarchal influence and have worked hard to ensure that my girls are surrounded by powerful female role models, myself included, I hope! I am passionate about helping my girls to appreciate that there are no limits beyond the ones you set yourself and have tried to instil this from a very young age. They really are turning into incredible woman, and right now they are entering some really pivotal years for growth and development. The house is horribly empty without them, but I treasure the holidays when they return to the family nest, bustling with stories, new ideals and plans for the future.”
The need for speed
Outside of work and family, Carina also has a passion for competitive sport. It was her father, the late Lieutenant Colonel Digby Willoughby, who was part of a two-man team that smashed the bobsleigh world record in 1961 and Carina has since achieved her own incredible sporting achievement, proving that a passion for the fast and furious runs in the family’s DNA. She was the first woman in 90 years to champion at Switzerland’s iconic Cresta Run in 2019; women had been banned from the 1,325-yard-long ice track in 1929. Describing the taking part as ‘humbling’, Carina was thrilled to earn the title of the fastest British woman to champion at the track, with a descent of 75 seconds.
And if that’s not enough, Carina is also a military reservist; for one who thrives on organisation and parameters and loves being challenged both mentally and physically, the army is a natural fit. Carina told us: “I am Army through and through! Both my grandfathers and father were in the Army. My grandfather was in the SOE – or Special Operations Executive – in WW2 and jumped behind enemy lines on two missions. My father was a British Gurkha and won an MC and was MID twice. I am very proud of their achievements and wanted to understand more about them as well. I am mildly obsessed with escape lines and often walk the Pyrenees in the footsteps of those that fled Nazi oppression from France to Spain. All of this combined has made the Army a happy home for me.”
Her eight weeks Officer training course at Sandhurst was “some of the hardest and most challenging training I have ever done,” she said. “I truly believe however that it has given me a huge amount of confidence in business and decision making. If you have been through Sandhurst you have been exposed to some of the best training available, both physically and in the classroom. It is simply the best military academy in the world, and it was a huge honour to be there. Officer selection is rightly tough, and I had to get up to speed mentally and physically.” Carina firmly believes that the military values of discipline, courage, respect, commitment and loyalty form the cornerstones of her business. She explained: “I have a can-do attitude to overcoming challenges while striving for perfection, both of which epitomise the spirit of the Armed Forces playing a major a role in my company’s evolution. I also hope to one day to deploy with the army so I can put all of this experience, enthusiasm and knowledge to the test in the ultimate way.”
All in a day’s work
You might ask – we certainly did – just how Carina Evans does it; super organised and a good outsourcer, Carina told us that surrounding herself with “excellent people” and keeping life simple – Carina follows a Keto diet and practises yoga – is her anchor. She also has a number of mantras by which she lives her life including ‘Be the best’.
With unwavering standards, for Carina, anything is possible.
Quiet and unremarkable? Think again.
Find out more
The find out more about Podium Pet Products please visit www.podiumpetproducts.com where full details on both the Dog Rocks and Be:Loved ranges can be found.
For more information, interviews or images please contact:
Kimberley Hornby, Podium Pet Products PR Team, Hornby Whitefoot PR
Tel: 07851 610573 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org