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Meet Natalise Kalea of in Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalise Kalea.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My path has taken a few different (and fun) turns. I was born in San Francisco with… I guess you could say, “tiger parents.” But, I was always a super creative kid whose favorite bands fluctuated between Queen and the latest boy bands. The culmination of intellectual and artistic forces meant a few things for me: 1) I started (and failed at) a teddy bear and flower company when I was seven, 2) I attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (for opera and piano) when I was ten, 3) I was OBSESSED with physics at 13, and 4) I LOVED animals and began volunteering at my local shelter at 14.

I ended up at Stanford University at 16… and then, I graduated early after getting signed as a recording artist to an indie label in SF. After a few singles on commercial radio and some club tours, I started my own label. That’s where I cut my marketing teeth. From there, I was asked to join a film production company, raising funds for slates of films. That’s where I learned that excel was kind of cool.

A few years later, I ended back up at Stanford for business school.

Stanford GSB (Graduate School of Business) is a special place. And it was here that I realized that I wanted to go back out and be an entrepreneur again, but this time, with a mission to do something bigger than myself. And so, I started looking to start or join a company that had a for-good mission about which I was passionate. That’s when I found CUDDLY, an amazing company with the incredible mission to make animals’ lives better.

I work very closely with our CEO John Hussey and our incredible team to help bring joy to pet parents through awesome, curated products and events. We also help over 1,200 rescue partners around the world.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into your story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
That’s a big question that is better suited over drinks. 🙂 But I will say — I’ve come to the idea that life is never a smooth road, but confronting and overcoming challenges and failures makes a person interesting. Who you are is determined by how you react to life’s uncertainties and challenges. Every struggle, every rejection, every disappointment is an opportunity to learn and prove to yourself who you really are. – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
CUDDLY is a pet product and fundraising platform that serves pet parents and rescues, alike. We allow pet parents to create CUDDLY gift lists (like a favorites list) to celebrate a pet’s new adoption, birthday, holiday, or just because. 5% of all purchases go back to the rescue of the parent’s choice. Additionally, animal lovers can donate to rescue campaigns and their respective wishlists. We take 0% of donations, so that rescues can do more.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There’s not one “moment” I can think of… I guess I’m the kind of person that is never satisfied with myself, nor do I give too much credit to personal accomplishments for the sake of staying hungry. I mean, I’m proud that I started my own record label at 19, to get on commercial radio and TV, to help other creatives realize their dreams, to go to Stanford twice, and to help an awesome company grow… but I think the best is yet to come.

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