Editor’s note: Ebony Centazzo, founder of Cat Napping Suburban Retreat, knew she wanted to start a business – she just didn’t know what kind of business. She put in the hard work, and finally came up with a business idea that incorporated one of her great loves – animals. A self professed “crazy cat lady”, her cattery is unique in that it gives each cat its own little space. On top of that, she also has a top secret business idea forming – something that hasn’t been done in Australia before, and something that, of course, will be about cats! Ebony chats about how she got started, and the upsides to starting a business in an area (and with creatures) that she loves.
For the past 8 years my entrepreneurial flair has been trapped inside a travel agent’s body. My two loves have been travelling and animals. Although I loved sending people on their dream holidays and “taste testing” some of these amazing destinations, I was still searching for more.
I spent a few years researching business ideas – opening my own travel agency, my own tour company, my own pet shop, homemade dog food, a pet resort – before coming across a boarding cattery operating out of an inner city warehouse. I now had my business idea forming in my mind; I began gaining qualifications, visiting my competitors, and buying supplies for my “cattery”.
My biggest obstacle that I didn’t see coming was real estate agents not taking me seriously. At that stage I was 27, although I kept getting told I looked 20 (I’m sure I will love this when I am 50 and look 40!). Twelve months after I started my search, my dream warehouse that I drove past every week suddenly had a incredible price drop. And as they say, the rest is history.
I opened Cat Napping Suburban Retreat on a Tuesday morning in September 2011. I had done no pre marketing; I had no clients, no forward bookings. I had a website, a sign on my warehouse and had advertised in every form of cheap local marketing that I came across. Two days later I had my first two cats check in, and from then I have never looked back.
The crazy thing is, I still work part time as a travel agent and, on my way home, I always stop by the cattery and say hi to my cats. I normally walk in there in a bad mood, tired and stressed and asking myself why I still work in travel. But within minutes the black cloud is gone, and these gorgeous furry babies make me laugh and forget my day. I thank my customers constantly for allowing me to share in the lives of their cats.
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