Albuquerque Region Client ProfileCatopia Cat Café
Catopia is a “Cat Cafe,” a fun place to hang out with cats and promote adoption while being able to sit, read, and eat or drink a little something while spending quality time with friends or with a new feline friend.
Sandy Dierks had a self-described mid-life crisis. She says it was a “kids are grown empty nest thing,” and she has always wanted to help animals. She was reading about the rise in popularity of “Cat Cafes” and thought it would be a good business venture for Albuquerque. Sandy has an MBA and went to business school years ago, so she came into the venture with eyes wide open and knew what she needed to do. She doesn’t think of herself as a risk-taker, and still can’t believe she jumped into it as quickly as she did. However, she is thankful for her family, and organizations like WESST that have been so supportive of her business idea and ambition.
Sandy sees WESST as a great “sounding board” for advice and a place where she could get help figuring out how to get through the obstacles, she was facing in the quest to open her first business. WESST consultants covered everything from tactical approaches to decision-making, what things to worry about, and which ones to let fall by the wayside and work themselves out. Sandy and her WESST consultant spent many hours on the messaging and branding activities that would be required of a new business just entering the market, especially one in a category that was not well known to the buying public. Sandy didn’t see herself as a very persuasive communicator or one that had experience with traditional “sales” activities that would be required to start the business off in a positive direction. WESST helped Catopia operate a mission-driven business by helping to practice and flesh out marketing ideas, social media best practices, and so much more.
The most obvious thing Catopia provides the community is pet adoptions and helping the people of Albuquerque to find a feline friend. They are making a difference and making connections with animals in need of attention while they wait to be adopted. They feel as though Catopia is helping in the areas of mental health and appreciation of all living things. Sandy says; “It’s been wonderful being an entrepreneur! I get to be a crazy cat lady; only it’s a business and not frowned upon at all. I like making a difference in people’s lives, that is, entrepreneurship to me, solving a problem that exists, and successfully running the operation as a business that thrives. Having a business built upon socializing cats and making them better pets and adoptees ready for their new homes is a dream come true for us. Also, it’s just fun to be social at work, building a business that’s social and a place for people to meet in a pleasant environment that I created.”