The numbers are down on our blog as of late. That is what happens when a blogger gets all sporadic with her posts. I love blogging, but there have been so many things going on and I have inadvertently lowered it on the priorities list.
So, what have we been doing with ourselves, then? Here goes:
Tabor at Alberta Park
1. Paul and I have been figuring out a way to keep Caretaking Couple going now that we are stationary, and it has evolved into us offering a more exclusive kind of pet sitting service. 95% of our clients here in Portland prefer that their pet(s) not go to a kennel for a variety of reasons (elderly dogs that don’t want/need as much play time, dogs with high anxiety levels, etc.). They are looking for individualized care, and that is where our focus lies. Word of mouth is providing enough business for us at present, although I do plan on stepping it up a notch, which leads me to…
Thank you, Oregon SBDC (Small Business Development Center)!
2. I applied for and was offered a scholarship via the SBDC last month and am now taking business classes for the next ten months. Yes, this is very exciting for me in so many ways…I am learning new things every day and am meeting more and more local small business owners, which is fantastic. This class would have cost me $1,600.00 had I not received the scholarship, and I am grateful.
Wellness Section at Alberta Cooperative Grocery
3. A couple of months ago, I decided to become a “working owner” at Alberta Co-op. I work one shift a week in the Wellness Section in exchange for a discount on all purchases along with other perks. I love that I get to be around essential oils, bath and body products, beeswax candles, etc. again (reminds me of my Mountain Girl Organics days). They have so many healthy & yummy foods, too! And speaking of healthy…
Beachbody Coach Summit 2012
4. I continue to grow my Beachbody business and am doing my best to help “end the trend” of obesity here in the States. Most of you know how much I love my food and drink, and how easy it can be for me to park my butt on the couch versus get it moving (especially in the rainy Pacific Northwest) so this is such a great company for me to be involved with. Beachbody is growing by leaps and bounds and I am proud to be a part of it. My goal is to get to the Coach Summit in Las Vegas this June so I can meet more like-minded people and continue to be inspired.
5. Exhale (my favorite local yoga studio) posted a request on their facebook page a couple months back. They needed a couple of people to clean the studio in exchange for unlimited classes and workshops (!). Soo happy I decided to do this. I am learning a lot more about Yoga and a little more about Ayurveda as well, which is something I have been interested in for some time. Yoga keeps me sane.
Collage in NE Portland
6. Just down the street from us is Collage, a mixed media arts supplies shop that offers all kinds of cool classes. So far, I have taken embroidery, bookmaking, and collage. Tomorrow, I am taking an image transfer techniques class ~ can’t wait! A seamstress friend has just rented a space and is looking for artisans to fill it with their creations and I am having fun deciding what it is I want to contribute. I may do a post on my creative endeavors here soon.
7. I meet with a group of blogger friends on Thursdays at Tabor Space (Portland has the coolest coffee shops, by the way) and know I will be getting back into blogging regularly as I plan on attending Seattle WordCamp (if I can hustle a ticket since I forgot to buy one and they sold out quick!). I loved the WordCamp here in Portland…fingers crossed I pull it off.
Spring in Portland ~ Can't Wait to Plant!
8. We are working on creating a backyard oasis here. Not much to show yet, as it has been constant rain. This weekend is supposed to be gorgeous, so hopefully I will have a “Before and After” post for you next week.
9. My Mom shared her Ancestry account with me in hopes that we could do some genealogy detective work together. I haven’t gotten very far with it, but I do have some leads. I want to make this more of a priority. Mom lives in California and we don’t catch up in person much, so this is a great way for us to keep in touch and share exciting discoveries.
10. I met Helen while volunteering at a Community Cycling Center event a few months ago. We have accountability meetings at local coffee shops every Tuesday morning for 90 minutes, in which we go over our accomplishments of the past week and post goals for the next week. If you don’t have an accountability friend (or group of friends), I recommend you go out and get yourself one…it has been invaluable for me.
Paul at the New Bollywood Theatre on Alberta Street
What is Paul up to? Working, spoiling our four legged clients sweetly, hanging out at his favorite local(s), waiting patiently to get started on the backyard raised garden beds, cooking delicious meals (they get healthier all of the time), and keeping me entertained on a daily basis. We typically go somewhere fun for our birthdays (next month) but we are having so much fun here, we may just hang out. Not sure yet…
What are you up to? I would love an update from all of you, near and far, wherever you are…
Use Your Social Connections to Find Trusted Pet Sitters at Stayhound
A few months ago, I clicked a link to this PBS video on Portland entrepreneurs via the facebook page of Barbara Winter, author of one of my favorite books, Making a Living Without a Job. That is when I found out about Alexis. I contacted her soon after and we have had two great brainstorming sessions over coffee since then. I am excited about what she is doing for the pet sitting community and can’t wait to share this start-up with you…
1. Alexis, in a sentence or two, what is Stayhound?
Stayhound makes it easier to leave your pets with friends and other carers.
Right now we’re helping people connect to trusted pet sitters using their
existing social connections, and we’re working on ways to help you track
and share details about your travels, your pet’s extended family (vets,
walkers, and other carers), medications, feeding schedule, and other important information.
2. Who or what inspired this great start-up?
My own hassles with finding and communicating with pet sitters to care for
my dog, Jake, and cat, Toby. I found myself spending more time interviewing
people I found through online directories than actually traveling! And when
I asked my friends to pet sit for me, I was driving all over the place to
drop off Jake before going to the airport. I knew there were people –
friends, professional pet sitters, and others – who lived closer to me and
I would trust, but I didn’t know how to find that sweet spot of social
proximity and location proximity.
3. What do you think makes Stayhound stand out from other online sitting services?
Trust. I interviewed dozens of pet parents and all of them wanted a better
way to find people they would trust with their animal companions. One told
me that she wouldn’t use Yelp to find a pet sitter because she didn’t
personally know the reviewers – she wanted a word of mouth referral. By
using your existing social connections, we make it easier to find pet
sitters who come with recommendations from trusted friends.
Jake and Alexis
4. What do you believe pet parents really want from sitters/walkers like Paul and I?
No one wants to have another thing to worry about, and when I trust the
person caring for Jake when I have to travel, it’s one less thing to worry
about. That comes from knowing – and liking – my pet sitter, but also
getting email, text messages, and photos of how Jake and Toby are doing. It
makes me feel like I’m with them.
5. What’s in it for the pets?
While all pets are different and many thrive in different environments, I’m
not a huge fan of kennels for Jake. Most kennel and dog daycare owners I’ve
talked to also realize that not all dogs do well in that environment. For
dogs who are more human-identified like Jake, staying with someone else in
their home or having someone stay in my home with him is so much better.
Kennels can also be dangerous for dogs – distemper, dog flu, and other
diseases are always a risk.
On a less tangible level, I believe our pets pick up on our anxieties. When
I feel confident dropping Jake off with someone I trust, he knows that and
feels more comfortable.
6. How have you gone about getting the word out on Stayhound?
Largely through friends and other people I’ve worked with who are
interested in what we’re doing. Partnering with the Oregon Humane Society
to donate a dollar for every pet profile created has been a great way to
get press from news outlets like the Oregonian.
7. What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
Strangely, introducing people to others who can help them! I’ve never
considered myself an extrovert, but running my own business forces me to
get out and talk to people more than I would otherwise. I love being able
to connect someone I meet to a potential customer or mentor. I recently
spent the weekend at Reed College helping college students work on their
startup ideas and pitch to a panel of investors. I loved being able to help
students the way others have helped me.
8. What can we do here in the sitting community to support Stayhound?
If you’re friends with your clients on Facebook, tell them about us! Anyone
can sign up for a Stayhound account and find out how many of their facebook
friends (and “friends in law”) are already there. There are so many people
who are involved in our pets’ lives, and we’re working on ways to keep all
of them in the loop. We’d love to hear feedback about how we can make that
communication easier for carers and their clients.
Alexis, thank you for taking the time to talk with me and share Stayhound with everyone…you are definitely onto something, here. As always, we welcome feedback and questions from all of you pet parents, sitters, and otherwise curious readers!
I (Valynne) will be handing out these sweet flyers and displaying them at local businesses here in Northeast Portland over the weekend and can’t wait to see what the response is like. BIG THANKS to Maxwell at No Limits PDX for a less than one day turn-around (!) and I really appreciate that this locally owned business charges LESS than the box stores, as well.
Also, I am going to do my best to track the response to this old-school flyer in comparison to the response I am getting via social media. Because we are newcomers to Portland, I think actually getting the word out in the community will be more effective than my various social media campaigns at this point. What do you think? Got tips? If so, we would love to hear them…
PS Time for another prize drawing. Leave a comment on ANY blog post here at Caretaking Couple and automatically enter to win a week’s worth of Shakeology, starting NOW and ending this Friday (10/14/11). I will send the prize out on Saturday.
Rusty Rests After a Sunday Morning Social at Laurelhurst Park
Paul and I get a lot of questions regarding the future of Caretaking Couple now that we have decided to call Portland, OR home. There is no doubt in my mind we will continue to house and pet sit here in the US and eventually beyond…we will just be doing it with a “home-base” from now on.
This will allow us to only take the sits that we really want to take. It will allow us stay put when we feel like nesting, and to hit the road when the wanderlust returns. AND it will allow me to take on more clients. That is right, I will be dedicating the hours of 11am – 3pm each weekday to walking local dogs. And I can’t wait to get started.
This is our first official announcement…stay tuned for more details on a separate page I am adding to this blog in the next week or so. My goal is to fill these hours walking dogs right here in the Alberta District. I am meeting with other walkers in the area and brainstorming ideas regarding cross-promotion, covering for each other while on vacation, and other important stuff.
Please let me know if you have any comments/questions/suggestions for us while I work on revamping our business model. It doesn’t matter if you are a homeowner, a sitter, an aspiring sitter, or simply a supportive friend ~ we always appreciate hearing from you.