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Meet Shana Martin of Club Cat in Irvine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shana Martin.

Shana, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was a closet entrepreneur for most of my professional life. I followed the “safe route” and pursued a master’s degree in business administration from UC Irvine at age 25 and subsequently worked for private, publicly traded, and not-for-profit organizations for the next 20 years mainly as a marketer. Nine years ago, I was teaching part-time in the business department at Orange Coast College when I conceived of the concept of Club Cat. I had struggled for years with what to do with my cats when I traveled on business or pleasure. I couldn’t fathom the idea of my cats holing up in a cage for days and weeks on end, and I didn’t want people in my home when I wasn’t there. For years I bemoaned that there were no appealing cat-only care options in Orange County. I created Club Cat for people like me, who want a safe, beautiful, and loving home-away-from-home for their cats when they travel.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Unfortunately, there were numerous barriers to entry. The biggest challenge in launching Club Cat was finding a space in our target location near John Wayne Airport. The solution for us was finding the right broker and we hit the jackpot with ours. She is an avid cat lover who could really see the vision. Fortunately, she was ultimately able to articulate our proof of concept despite the many landlords and property managers who could not see beyond their absurd misconceptions about cat care.

Another frustrating (and expensive) challenge was construction delays that could have been avoided had we known more about commercial construction. We were supposed to open mid-December 2018 and we didn’t open our doors until March 1 of 2019.

Please tell us about Club Cat.
Club Cat is a boutique luxury hotel and resort exclusively designated for the day and overnight care of domestic cats. Our unique accommodations are a departure from conventional boarding options for cats on many levels. First, our spacious suites have walls and glass doors (no cages or enclosures!) and are eight-feet tall and at least three and a half feet wide with enclosed balconies. Second, our décor is modern trompe l’oeil and whimsical cat portraiture with cat suites that are “cat-punned” after some of my favorite novels – The Great Catsby (after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby) and Romeow and Juliet (after Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet). You get the idea. Third, and most importantly, because we are a boutique-y cat hotel, we get to know each and every one of our customers and their kitty cats. This is not a transactional experience for our patrons; rather, it is transformational.

Entertainment includes:
CatFlix – Feline-friendly programs
CatCasts – Live webcasts for cat owners who want to check in on their kitty cats 24/7
CatChats – For cat owners who want to have live “cat-versations” with their kitty

Special amenities include:
Fur therapy
Derrière trims
Calming therapy

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Definitely driving across the country with my older brother and parents on summer vacations. My parents were high school educators and my stepfather was a history buff so I think we visited almost all fifty states before I was 16. We didn’t have social media or mobile devices back in the 70’s and 80’s. But we had our imaginations and my brother and I tapped into ours by making up silly, fun games to pass the time in the car. I suspect the need to be creative to stave off boredom during those 10-hours drives somehow contributed to my eventual ability to follow in my brother’s footsteps and become an entrepreneur.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mily Cooper Photography

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