THIS Is the Story Behind the Creation of L.A.'s First Cat Café
Visiting a cat café is a pretty awesome, but running one is a whole different experience.
Just ask Kanchan Singh, the founder of L.A.'s first cat café Crumbs & Whiskers. While working with cats all day does have its perks, opening her café has been taken Kanchan on one heck of a ride.
We chatted with this entrepreneur about how she came up with the idea to open Crumbs & Whiskers, where the name came from and more below:
Sweety High: What inspired you to open your cat café?
Kanchan Singh: I went to a cat café in Thailand and completely fell in love. I've been an animal-lover my entire life, and I couldn't stop thinking about the impact cat cafés could make in the lives of shelter cats while also brightening up people's day. I was immediately sold and knew that I wanted to start my own cat café when I returned home.
SH: How did you come up with the name Crumbs & Whiskers?
KS: I actually spent three entire weeks brainstorming names until Crumbs & Whiskers hit me. I had been writing down names, but they were either unimaginative or too cheesy, and I wanted something creative, playful and fun. Super frustrated at my inability to come up with a cool name, I started writing down words that came into my mind when I thought of cupcakes and cats (my original idea was to serve cupcakes at the cat café), and then I started putting those words together. Some of the names were Cakes & Paws, Sprinkles & Tails… and then I finally wrote down "Crumbs & Whiskers." I immediately knew that was it. It just stuck.
SH: Are there any cats at the café that you have a particularly special bond with?
KS: There were two cats when our D.C. store just opened called Wookie and Hoya. I was obsessed with both of them. Wookie loved food, so I would sneak him Chipotle all the time (he went crazy for Chipotle). Hoya loved sleeping next to me, so I'd sometimes sleep at the café just so I could cuddle with Hoya all night long. I cried when both of them got adopted, so now I try not to get too attached to them.
SH: The interior of your café is incredibly adorable! How did you decide to design it that way?
KS: I've always had this vision for the Crumbs & Whiskers interior that can be summed up as your "cool, cat-loving girlfriend's trendy and chic apartment." I wanted to make it beautiful and trendy, but also cozy and inviting so my customers can be inspired by the design, but also be super comfortable when they're in the space.
SH: How did you decide what would go on the menu? Is there a drink or treat in particular you really enjoy?
KS: I wanted our menu to be a basic coffee shop menu. My favorite things on our menu are the iced chai latte and the peanut butter cookie. They're so good!
SH: How did you decide on partering with particular shelters?
KS: We partner with organizations who rescue cats in line to be euthanized at high-kill shelters. Every cat at Crumbs & Whiskers was actually about to be put down at a shelter, but wasn't because we were able to take them in. Basically, we partner with organizations who rescue those at-risk cats and find them foster homes.
SH: As all of the cats in the café can be adopted, do you have a most memorable adoption experience, or one you hold near and dear to your heart?
KS: Tigress! She was a three-legged cat who was super independent and sassy, but also a huge cuddle monster. Even though she got in an accident and had to have one of her legs removed, she totally didn't act handicapped and was actually quicker and stronger than all the other cats! She was such a boss and I feel like I connected with her on a spiritual level. I really wanted to see her go to a good home because she's had such a tough life, so I was really happy when she was one of the first cats to get adopted at our L.A. store. This video her adopter posted of her once she got home melts my heart every time I watch it.
— gaaaabi (@gaaaabi) October 12, 2016
SH: What was the most difficult part about opening the café? What was the most rewarding part?
KS: The most difficult part about opening the café is definitely getting all the government permits. The most rewarding part is watching the customers and the cats having a blast. It still feels surreal sometimes when I'm in a store looking at the line of customers waiting outside and the cats having a great time, who would otherwise be euthanized at the shelter. It's really cool to be in moments where you have to pinch yourself and ask, "Wait, is this real life?!"
SH: When was that moment you knew this had really taken off and become something special?
KS: When our reservations went live and our system crashed for the rest of the day due to the sheer volume of people trying to book their visit. We kept getting emails and calls from people saying that they had marked their calendars and had waited weeks to be able to make a reservation, and while my team was responding to them, I was just dancing around to Taylor Swift in excitement. In retrospect, that was not very productive and probably kind of annoying.
SH: If you didn't own and run Crumbs & Whiskers, would there be something else you'd be doing?
KS: Traveling. I was seriously considering quitting my job and traveling the world for a year before I stumbled upon a cat cafe, so that's probably what I'd be doing. Either that, or trying to start some other business because my ultimate dream has always been to own a business.
SH: What's your advice for your entrepreneurs who want to start a business of their own?
KS: There are two parts to owning a business—half of it is extremely exciting, and the other half is extremely terrifying. Focus on the exciting stuff—it will keep you going. The second you start focusing on the scary stuff, it's game over. That's the secret to taking a risk and sticking with it. Remember that no one knows the future, and while I can't tell you if you'll succeed, I can tell you that you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot.
We were lucky enough to visit Crumbs & Whiskers here in L.A. and it was amazing! Head over HERE to read all about our visit.