For Breann Shook ’02, it all started with an 11-year-old English Cocker Spaniel named Lucy. When Lucy developed food allergies in the late 1990s, Shook – then a business administration major at Chapman University – set out on a quest to find nutritious and tasty food alternatives for her picky pet. She ended up founding her own all-natural pet food company, Grandma Lucy’s, while she was still an undergrad.
Two decades later, Shook has been honored by the Orange County Business Journal with the 2022 JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Women on the Move” Award.
“Our company has seen double-digit growth every year since we started, yet we still have so many opportunities to bring even more pets worldwide healthy foods,” says Shook. “I look forward to continuing to grow our company while starting our new non-profit, Project Pet RAK, that raises money to help support service and therapy dogs and their people.”
The nonprofit is a passion project for Shook, started with her daughter, Alex, who hopes to attend Chapman next fall.
“Our middle son has autism so we have seen first hand the freedoms these amazing animals can give to their person,” says Shook.
We asked her to share some of her favorite memories from Chapman.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman and why?
Though I never was able to meet him in person, I heard Dr. Doti speak many times and I always loved hearing about all of the amazing things he was doing to grow Chapman.
If you could go back in time and experience one moment again at Chapman, what would it be? Would you do anything differently?
In one of my classes, we were able to work with a woman who was starting a company that made stickers to mark children’s items such as their jackets, lunchboxes, etc. I loved helping her create a solid business plan as I knew how trying it can be as an entrepreneur starting your own business from scratch.
What do you wish you knew at the time you graduated that you know now? What advice can you give to students or new grads of today?
Since I was building Grandma Lucy’s during my time at Chapman, I was not able to do an internship but I would have loved to. I was lucky to be able to apply what I was learning and I believe it is so important for college students to do the same. Coming out of college with a degree AND work experience is so valuable in giving them a leg up in a highly competitive job market. It is also a great time to try different types of jobs and work environments to see what you like best. This is why we are working with Chapman to create a college internship program at Grandma Lucy’s for 2023.
How did Chapman prepare you for your career? For life? How did your experience at Chapman prepare you for the real world?
I am grateful to all of the Chapman business professors for their real-world teaching. What I mean by this is, so many times I hear from employees or colleagues that they really do not use what they learned in college. They felt that what they learned was out of date and was not easily applied to the constantly changing business world. My Chapman professors would apply what we were learning to current businesses and teach about new practices emerging in the markets. It was so helpful and also taught me to be aware of those trends.
Do you have any other words of wisdom for students and new grads of Chapman University?
Chapman is also so intertwined in the Orange County business community which is exactly what attracted my daughter to Chapman. Orange County is a hub for all types of businesses and the opportunities Chapman has created for their students to be a part of it all gives them experiences you cannot find in many universities. Have so much fun while at Chapman and take advantage of all of the programs and opportunities they have created for their students. Not only will it all create lifelong memories, those experiences will help you hit the ground running when you graduate.