With the support of the Austin community and a fierce love for her cherished pup, Wondercide’s Stephanie Boone created safe and effective pest protection for pets and families.
By Stephanie Boone, Photo by Kara E. Henderson
Fierce love is about protecting those you love by any means necessary. That’s how Wondercide started in 2009. With grit, perseverance and intuition, I believed I could save my dog, Luna, an Akita-husky mix. She was suffering from pesticide poisoning caused by commonly prescribed monthly flea-and-tick medication and quarterly pest-control services. The invisible dangers were all around us and we didn’t know better. The devastating side effects included chronic skin issues, liver and kidney failure, and seizures. Several vets recommended I put Luna down, but that was never an option for me. I felt responsible for her suffering and I knew there had to be a better way.
I started researching and learned Luna’s story was not unique. So many animals and humans suffer from pesticide exposure. We put these products on ourselves, our pets and around our homes and lawns, all in an effort to protect the ones we love. Through a process of discovery and ingredient research, I nursed Luna back to health and founded Wondercide. With fierce love and belly fire, I set out to do better. My life’s purpose became clear: create innovative natural pest protection that’s truly safe and equally effective so other families never have to experience the compromise we did.
In the early days, my partner and I mixed batches of our spray, bottled it by hand and sold it online. We also sold it at farmers markets and handed out samples to everyone we met. Luna was always by our side and lived to be 16 years old. We had 2,190 more days together. The day she passed away, I got a call from the producers of Shark Tank, who invited us on the show. While devastated by her loss, I knew it was the right thing to do. The show is watched by millions and would help us educate families. What many don’t know is that I was five months pregnant and only had a few weeks to prepare for the filming. I was grieving the loss of Luna, pregnant with my first child at age 39 and the CEO of a rapidly growing company. Still, nothing was going to stop this mom on a mission.
I never intended to be an entrepreneur, and my background certainly didn’t prepare me for running a complex company. I had to learn how to build a supply chain, manufacturing facility and an e-commerce site (10 years ago, y’all!). I had no experience with chemistry, product development, regulatory compliance or strategic business planning in my past life. I didn’t even finish college. Then there’s learning how to develop a team, how to lead and inspire, how to grow everything and everyone I’m responsible for.
In this beautiful city of Austin, though, I didn’t have to go it alone. It’s a city of freethinkers, doers and progressiveness. It’s a supportive community for entrepreneurs and women. I was able to attract brilliant advisors who just wanted to see me succeed. Austin is a place of connecting and building each other up. There’s a cooperative nature here that doesn’t exist in the same way anywhere else. It gives me so much strength and gratitude.
Doubt still creeps in at times, frustration too, when I think of how many more people we can help but haven’t yet reached. Plus, the guilt of Luna’s suffering is still with me. I wish I had known then what I know now. But as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” That’s in our DNA at Wondercide.
What’s next at Wondercide? We’re working on continued efforts to support our customers and educating women so they can make informed decisions for their families. We’re practicing courage versus comfort as we work to disrupt the pest-control industry and usher in a new era of pest protection that is as safe as it is effective for pets, homes and families.