Pet Entrepreneur Interview: Gina from Whiskey’s
We love featuring sellers from Cuzzey.com because their stories are inspiring! One of our sellers, Gina, is such a gentle human and her love for animals is unbelievable. Her passion pushed her into starting her journey as a pet entrepreneur.
Jose He, Cuzzey’s CEO, interviews her to learn more about her story as a pet entrepreneur with Whiskey’s.
Jose: Why did you want to start a pet business?
Gina: I started my pet business because I really love animals and I’ve always wanted to be a vet since I was a kid. However, schools in Singapore did not provide veterinary courses, and I didn’t want to study abroad. So I thought what’s better than starting my very own business that allows me to work with what I love? I want to help as many animals as I can and contribute my part to this aspect of our society. My end goal for this business is to open an animal shelter (either in Singapore or abroad) and help as many in need as possible.
This business is a stepping stone to what we aim to achieve.
We name our shop (Whiskey’s) after our rescued mongrel, Whiskey, as it acts as a motivation for us to continue working hard to reach our goal despite the challenges that we may face. I hope that someday, we can proudly say that we have built a home for the animals in need and they’ll be our “whiskey’s friends.”
Jose: Tell us your Story (How did your business start?)
Gina: I started this business with my partner, Kenny, as a small home business. In the beginning, we posted ads on carousell, Locanto, and gumtree before slowly building a reputation through our website.
We had time during school holidays, so why not? It was more like a hobby/school holiday project for us and didn’t expect to go this far. Back home, our max occupancy for boarding was 2 houses of pets. We limited the number because we make sure that every visitor is given ample space and attention. We also did grooming at home and it was really tough because fur would fly everywhere! That created quite a bit of discomfort for my family staying with me.
After 2 years of working with the 2 partitioned rooms that we had for the business, Kenny and I decided to take a leap of faith and venture into this full time. My sister had found this shop unit for her interior-design office but she backed out. So she asked if I wanted to take it instead. We had regular customers who are very supportive and followed us to our current shop. Through these happy customers, we earned quite a number of referral as well.
I wouldn’t say that we are there yet, but at least we are somewhere on the starting line now.
Jose: Who inspires you?
Gina: I wouldn’t say that nobody inspired me because nobody in my family/social circle shares the same passion for me with regards to animals. However, my family is my most significant support throughout this journey. They helped me a lot, by giving me pieces of advice on how to run a business and setting up the whole home business.
They were the ones who helped me built the partitioned rooms so we can run a home business and for that, I’m hugely grateful as they supported me despite the mess and noise disturbance they had to endure.
Jose: What is your biggest challenge as a pet business?
Gina: Our biggest challenge is the practical aspect of keeping this business up. Running a boutique pet boarding house like ours isn’t the most lucrative business due to high overhead cost eating our revenue. No matter the amount of passion, if we don’t earn enough to cover our overhead, our sustainability in this industry is at risk.
I believe many in the same industry will understand what I mean. Others would think that pet business is a very profitable business as there isn’t much to do/cost to pay. However, all the extra features we put in place to allow pets to have a more comfortable stay adds costs and leave us with even less profit.
Also, not all pet owners understand our view. They think that they are paying more than what we provide. The truth is, caring and having the responsibility of making sure all pets in our care are well and safe, is not as easy as what others may think.
Jose: Best advice to people who want to start a pet business.
Gina: My best advice will be to find ways to stay motivated. I have learnt of many who started pet entrepreneurship because they love animals but after facing all the mess and dirt, they lost the passion for them.
This is an industry that requires a lot of passion and getting demoralised is inevitable. If you think that this is what you want to venture into, don’t give up, stay motivated and you will be able to carve a path for yourself in this line.
Jose: What are your thoughts on the pet market in the next 5 years?
Gina: I believe that there is a growing trend of people keeping pets in Singapore and of course, around the world. This definitely can translate into more significant potential in the pet market. That being said, if one goes into this line without full passion for the animals, he/she will not stay in it for long.
It is a market with immense potential with a fun and loving market too. I would love to see more exciting opportunities/pet business in the next 5 years, and hopefully, Whiskey’s will be able to collaborate with more of them eventually.
Check out Whiskey’s on Cuzzey today!