Today I am excited to welcome Ebony Centazzo to the TWH Sisterhood!
Ebony has an inspiring story, she is the owner of Cat Napping, a successful cat boarding company that currently runs out of two Melbourne locations. She is a self confessed “crazy cat lady” and loves being surrounded by an array of animals.
An amazing part of Ebony’ story isn’t that she loves cats (who doesn’t love cats?), it’s the fact that she started her own business with no prior business knowledge (talk about determined!). With her eyes on a third location it goes to show hard work really does pay off!
I love that you are a crazy cat lady (so am I!) Tell us a bit about yourself…
Apart from being a crazy cat lady, I am a workaholic! I work in the business 5- 6 days a week, and then find I am working on the business in my spare time…like today on my day off doing this interview!! I love reading about motivational business stories and I follow a lot of inspiring people on social media. In my spare time you’ll find me doing pilates, travelling, catching up with family and friends and being recently single, looking for my next partner in crime hahaha – for any men reading this 😉
How did you go from being a travel agent to running your own business?
From a young age I was always in business. I had a bookmark business, sold fruit and vegetables from our garden back to my parents, and made fake fur bags in high school. So the entrepreneurial spirit has always been in me.
After high school, I studied tourism, worked in Yulara in the amazing outback and then become a travel agent back in Melbourne. I was always going to my managers with crazy marketing ideas on how to drive in more business, and it all fell on deaf ears. I started researching business ideas, that I could afford and had a passion for. My love after travel is animals, so it was a natural to create something that I was passionate about. Having at the time two cats and two dogs and travelling whenever I could, I was well aware of the process of boarding my pets and could see a better way of doing things. My aim was to change the stigma attached to boarding catteries; that they were ran by older people, stunk and the cages were tiny and boring for the cats.
You started Cat Napping with no prior business knowledge, what challenges did you face doing this and how have they shaped you as a person today?
My biggest challenge that I faced when starting was people taking me seriously. Even family and friends didn’t believe in my business until it was tangible. Being 27 at the time and meeting real estate agents and telling them I wanted a warehouse to house cats in also saw me being laughed at. Twelve months into my search, I finally found an agent that was supportive and lovely landlords that loved that I was a young female business owner.
With each knock back, laugh or person that thought I would never succeed, it made me more determined to prove them wrong. I am an introvert, and always thought it was my fault people didn’t get me. Hence a lot of people were shocked when they realised what I had successfully created the business and at the female entrepreneur I have become. It’s made me a stronger woman, as each year passes I keep surprising myself with what I have achieved.
What has been the most rewarding thing that has come from running your own business?
Being my own boss and doing what I want! Each and every crazy idea that happens to pop into my head, I action. Some have been successful, some not so. But the fact that I am able to try anything and not ask anybody’s permission is the reward.
Secondly is building an amazing team, that love and cherish Cat Napping just as much as I do and even their partners and children have an interest and passion in the future of the business. It’s not just about me anymore, I am a pretty unconventional boss and to have a team that looks up to me and plays along with my wacky ideas, amazes me each day.
Don’t quit the daydream
What’s next for Cat Napping?
I plan to continue to grow the Cat Napping brand. I have customers constantly asking for a Cat Napping closer to them as most cats don’t travel very well in cars. I am currently scouting for a third location in the inner west of Melbourne. My ultimate goal would be to have a Cat Napping in each state of Australia within the next 10 years. Just need to find a crazy cat investor to help out on that dream.
What advice would you give to young women who are wanting to start their own business?
Don’t wait, do it now. It will be bloody hard work, you will wonder at times why you are doing it, and then you receive a call or email and it remains you instantly why.
To read more about Ebony or her business check out the Cat Napping website here: www.catnapping.com.au