I find it ironic that the theme of this week’s founder series is patience and when I was writing this I had almost zero. Rushing around, yelling at cars, eating too fast just to get shit done because I’m up against a big deadline. I had planned a bunch of stuff prior to knowing about this deadline so of course life likes to load ya up all at one time! The funny thing about this is that I think that yelling at the cars to move faster or half heartily throwing a post together then the more I’ll be able to pack into the day. But, because I haven’t taken the time to slow down and be mindful I end up doing more work. There are more mistakes in my grammar, more projects that are started and unfinished (like the dishes in the sink and laundry on the bed), and the less present I am in general. Also- side note- when you slow down and have patience you’ll notice how NOT a big deal the things you’re stressing about truly are.
Can you think back on a time that you said something without really listening to what the person was saying? Or what about launching a program or offer from your business only to realize you weren't ready to manage it or scale it? Or rushed through an Instagram post just to get content out there? Have you ever bought a piece of home decor just to have something rather than waiting for the thing you REALLY wanted?
I've been all of the above. I've spoken thoughtlessly, launched too quickly, bought way too many fake plants, posted, edited, reposted, and then deleted because I moved too quickly. Something I've been working on in my own life is slowing down before making decisions. Now, I'm a huge researcher of all things, so in many ways, I do educate myself before I decide to move forward, BUT I often tend to make moves without thinking it through.
It seems as if learning patience is a common theme for most entrepreneurs as Allison Katz of Gift Spawt explains that it took time to understand how to even get started as a business owner and then to officially launch their brand.
She does a great job sharing how patience in her business was a key element of success! Allison and her co-founder Mariana created, Gift Spawt, a one-stop-shop for sending gifts and puppy care packages to dog friends near and far. With snuggly stuffed toys, stylish accessories, dog gift sets, and greeting cards, they’ve got something special for every pup and occasion. They love supporting their dog parent community and spreading joy to people everyday.
Allison describes what steps they took as a brand to launch their online business efficiently and effectively. In our interview, she also provides insight to those who are looking to get started and some mindset tips to keep your eye on the ball!
I originally worked with Allison and Mariana many moons ago for my 10k milestone giveaway on @paxthedood. The two of them created @dogswithstuffedanimals which is an instagram account that highlights adorable dogs with stuffed animals. That specific account is very successful and it seems only natural for them to start selling products themselves!
If you are interested in collaborating as an influencer or sending a package to a friend please contact Allison at email@example.com. Make sure to check out their website and buy your pup some fun and adorable goodies. Giftspawt packages each gift which makes it personalized and unique for each recipient. You can also follow them on Instagram at @giftspawt or on their Facebook page which you can reach by clicking here.
Without further ado, Allison Katz, everyone!
Please tell us a bit about your background both personally and professionally.
I am originally from Charlotte, North Carolina and went to school at UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Heels!). After graduating from college, I wanted to explore life outside of NC and moved to NYC with some friends. While I started off working in entertainment PR, I later transitioned to the healthcare field and headed to DC for graduate school.
Although city living was fun and exciting, it was also stressful and lonely at times. One of my coworkers suggested that I should get a dog and even came with me to bring Riley home in 2012. Since day one, he's been a total mama's boy (and I mean that in the best way possible) and the center of my world. Little did I know that when I started an Instagram account for him in 2015, that it would be a turning point in my life personally and professionally.
It was through IG that I became friends with Mariana, my now business partner, who also happened to have a cockapoo named Riley. We decided to start @dogswithstuffedanimals together, which gave me a creative outlet that I didn't have in my day job. I also felt a sense of empowerment turning an idea into a reality and taking on a leadership role.
At the same time, I was missing my family and friends in North Carolina and decided that I wanted to move closer to home. For the past 1.5 years, I have been living in Chapel Hill, NC, working in digital marketing for medical practices, and growing Gift Spawt. Although it was a risk leaving my life in DC and a job I had for 9 years, I am so glad that I took a leap of faith and allowed myself to try something new!
How did you get your idea or concept for the brand?
Mariana and I had been exchanging gifts for our dogs for holidays and birthdays. While the presents were small (a toy, treat, or card), it was so fun receiving a package from a friend and surprising Riley with his pawmail.
We noticed that other dogs on Instagram were sending their friends gifts as well and how happy it made everyone. From there, we decided to create a site for the dog community that promoted friendship and celebrating special occasions -even when you can't be there in person.
Looking back would you do any thing different?
Not at all. In the past year, I've learned so much, and challenges and missteps have always guided me in a better direction.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
The ability to create opportunities for myself and taking personal responsibility for my decisions. I'm also able to maintain a fairly flexible schedule, which allows me to have a good work-life balance.
Share your favorite moment or moments while growing your business.
Seeing the messages that friends write for the gift cards has been awesome! You can tell that so many humans and pups have formed genuine relationships with one another, and it really reinforces the power of the dog community.
I also loved meeting-up with some of our IG friends, while traveling this past year.
What are some of the challenges of being an entrepreneur?
Because so much of what we do is tied to social media, email, and being online, I often find it difficult to unplug and be away from my phone or computer. But I have started to set aside device-free time each night, so that I can truly decompress and be more engaged in my relationships and experiences.
Advice for other entrepreneurs or those looking to get started?
Patience, planning, and research are essential to executing an idea. When we decided to start Gift Spawt, I bought a 2000 page book on Amazon about creating and running a small business. There were so many steps to take before we could even begin developing the website, and I just gave myself the time and space to get organized, ask friends and family for help, contact support teams (especially with tech questions), and search for answers online.
How do you advertise your brand?
Currently, we only promote Gift Spawt on social media (Instagram and Facebook). We owe so much to our amazing brand ambassadors, who have supported us since the very beginning!