When we last chatted with Catherine Kazmir, she was leading House of Cat, an Etsy gift hub for cat lovers, all on her own. Now, Catherine has created Oh My Cat, an online boutique connecting creators, furry friends and their adopted purr-ents from across the globe.
Oh My Cat offers cat-themed accessories, home decor and stationery for cat aficionados, as well as cat toys, apparel, beds and litter box care for kitties of all shapes and sizes. Catherine has hand-picked items and collaborated with vendors from across the globe to create an engaging shopping experience that also works to take the crazy out of cat lady.
The retailer launches on March 11 and we’re honoured to provide you with all the details on the new brand and how you can get your paws on some worldly cat creations.
- When did you decide to create Oh My Cat?
When I first started House of Cat, I envisioned an online boutique featuring all kinds of handmade goods for cats and cat lovers. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a line of products that I’m proud of, but there is so much more that I want to offer (like cat beds, more toy varieties, accessories and jewellery). My skillset is limited and I do have a full-time job on top of this, so the time I have to dedicate myself to developing new products is limited as well. Since making all the products myself didn’t seem scalable, I started toying with the idea of creating a new online boutique featuring curated collections of cat-themed products made by myself and other talented makers across the globe. In October 2016, I decided to go for it, and I’ve been hastily preparing for our big launch ever since.
- How do you feel knowing you are now creating a space to support other artists and entrepreneurs?
I love the idea of working with other indie makers. So far all of the artisans I’m working with I discovered on Etsy. Some of them have been successfully selling for several years and others are just getting started. I think that we’re all hoping to build our own empires and with this business, it’s like I’m growing a team of partners and we’re all helping each other out.
- If Oh My Cat was a person, how would you describe them?
If Oh My Cat was a person, she’d be a strong, happy, confident woman and kind of a badass. She’s comfortable in her own skin and never worries about what others think of her. She has a great sense of style. She’s a proud, modern cat lady.
- What was a key strategy you used when working to build relationships with which the brands and businesses Oh My Cat is now collaborating?
My key strategy has been mostly reaching out to vendors that I’ve discovered either through Etsy, Instagram, Facebook or email. I’ve also been searching for vendors at several local craft shows too. I’ve been sharing my vision with them and for the most part, they’ve been excited about the idea and eager to join in.
- Where in the world do the various creators on Oh My Cat reside?
All over! I’ve got several vendors that are local (Toronto and surrounding area), others from various cities across Canada, to makers in the Ukraine, Latvia, South Africa and the United States, just to name a few.
- How many customers do you expect to have in Oh My Cat’s first year?
Oh gosh, I’m hoping for a few thousand, but who knows. This is all so new to me, I have no idea what to expect.
- How can prospective Oh My Cat vendors and marketers join the collective and start selling their classy cat products with you?
Cat loving makers are always welcome to contact me via email at email@example.com. They just need to include a link to their shop and a line sheet. If it’s something that I think would be a good fit for an upcoming collection, I’ll be in touch. I’m currently looking for products to add to the Summer Collection.
- How will shipping work/how much will it cost me if I, a Toronto resident, wanted to order something from a vendor who lives in another country?
That’s the great thing about this store: it won’t cost you as much as buying directly from vendors in other parts of the world. I buy wholesale from all of my vendors and keep an inventory on hand. So if you purchase from our store, you just pay for shipping from us (Toronto). I haven’t figured out all the shipping costs yet, but it will vary by the items. In fact, Torontonians have the added options of buying from us at local craft shows as well as selecting to do local pickup (downtown Toronto) to save on shipping costs.
- Some of the products on Oh My Cat are exclusive to your store. What products are you most excited to get your hands/paws on?
In some cases, we’ve worked with the makers to design custom pieces especially for Oh My Cat. For example, we’ve worked with a maker in BC to create super cute, over-the-collar bandanas for cats. This maker originally made bandanas for dogs, but we worked together to create new sizes for cats and kittens as well as choose prints that match the rest of the products in our Spring Collection. I’ve also ordered cat collars and matching bow ties. I think these are my favourite pieces. I’ve been dressing my own cat, Cali, up with these ever since they arrived.
- Will House of Cat’s products be for sale on Etsy and Oh My Cat, moving forward?
I plan on continuing to sell House of Cat on Etsy (for as long as I can manage it at least). Etsy has been a great source of income and it’s partly what’s helping me fund Oh My Cat. A select number of House of Cat products will also be for sale on Oh My Cat. I want to keep a balance of House of Cat products as well as products made by other makers.
- Your passion for cat-ure (couture) started when you were trying to find a clean, safe way to keep your apartment free of cat litter odour. Do you still use that “recipe” to keep your home smelling fresh? And, will this handy tool be available on Oh My Cat?
I still rely on my natural litter box cleaner and deodorizer on a weekly basis. (PS. I’ve also recently switched to pine litter. That in combination with the deodorizer has done wonders for controlling odours). Since these products are some of my best sellers, I’ll be carrying them in Oh My Cat. I also prefer to buy products from vendors that are eco-friendly or use organic ingredients. That’s another one of the perks of working with other indie makers. They know how all their products are made and can tell me exactly what’s in them. For instance, several of the toys in our Spring Collection are made with recycled materials and organic catnip!
- During our first interview, you had said that when you were working on your Etsy shop, you kept holding back on the launch because things didn’t feel 100 per cent in place/perfect – and we’ve all been there. How has the Oh My Cat launch differed from your first experience?
This launch has been completely different. I learned a lot from previous mistakes and this time I’ve been working hard to make this launch a success. Back in October, I set a date for the launch (March 11) and I’m forcing myself to stick to this date. I’ve created a launch plan and figured out all the things that I need to do leading up to that date. Staying super organized is incredibly important, otherwise, I think I’d be having stress-induced panic attacks on the daily.
- Who helped develop, create and launch Oh My Cat?
I’ve teamed up with several people to help me make Oh My Cat possible. First of all, I started working with a talented team of ladies (who happen to be cat lovers as well) at Brand Ambition. They’ve helped me design my branding, done a photoshoot with me and written the copy for my website. Also, a special shout out to my friend Sarah who lent us her apartment and her kitten, Luna, for that photoshoot 😉
Secondly, my friends Natasha McDiarmid and Danielle Benton have designed various marketing collateral for me, including my landing page and press kit. And my boyfriend helps out wherever he can too with the website and managing finances.
- The Oh My Cat website and Instagram page look amazing! Can you spill the beans on your favourite photo editing techniques and tactics?
My secret weapon is the talented team at Brand Ambition. My posts are a combination of photos from our shoot and reposts from other cat accounts on the web (which I credit when posting). To be honest, I’m still working on getting better at my own photography.
- How have you found managing more than one social media account? (I think people sometimes overlook how much time and effort it takes to create impactful content – and triple check for caption typos!)
It is very time consuming. It’s often difficult for me to keep up with to be honest. I think that I’m going to have to start using a service that allows me to schedule posts and plan them in advance. Especially given that I have a full time job, it’s hard to constantly ensure I’m regularly posting at peak times. I focus mainly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I’ll probably add a Pinterest account down the road but I can’t take on much more. I’d rather focus on being really good at keeping up with a few accounts as opposed to posting infrequently on many.
- My favourite part about about Oh My Cat is how the brand takes the tackiness and negative stigma out of being a cat lady. It reminds the world that cats are fierce, elegant and bosses, like their owners, and that just because we have a cat, doesn’t mean we’re boring people. How do you respond to people are quick to judge your love of little balls of fur?
Thank you! That’s exactly our mission. I understand that cats are not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s perfectly fine. Honestly, I just turn the other cheek. I’ve decided to simply focus on the people who are proud cat lovers and love the products we carry and what we stand for. I get way more positive feedback about who I am and what I do than negative. I don’t have time for the negative anyway.
- This positivity you’re spreading about cat people has made me think about the positive impact my cat has had on my overall well-being (she’s certainly played a part in reducing and effectively managing my anxiety). How has owning a cat positively impacted your life?
Cali has 100 per cent helped my overall wellbeing as well. She just makes me so happy. It helps that she’s not your typical cat. She’s a total lap cat and glued to my hip most of the time. She’s incredibly affectionate as well. Not only that, but there’s just something about cats that reminds you about the importance of taking care of yourself and finding balance in life. Cats are just so peaceful and calming (well, kittens aren’t maybe, but Cali’s beyond that stage). When I need a break, we cuddle on the couch for a bit and I let her purrs soothe me.
- Do you have a favourite cat video you like to watch when in need of some inspo?
I mostly watch cat videos when I need a good laugh. There’s this one gif of a cat that’s poked his head into a sandal and then slides across the floor. Every time I watch that gif, I can’t help but laugh.
- What are a few cat Instagram (catstagram) accounts you indulge in on the regular?
Oh boy, there are so many. I follow 98 per cent cats and cat related businesses. Here are a few of my favourites:@girlsandtheircats, @grover_the_siberian (based in Toronto!), @worduptopiper (another Canadian!), @legendofcatlady and @isabelrincon. There are so many more.
Friends, stay informed about new products, upcoming events and receive exclusive discounts by subscribing to Oh My Cat’s newsletter: www.ohmycatshop.com. Find Oh My Cat on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more first-hand information about this one-of-a-kind cat collective!
The next place for local cat lovers to shop Oh My Cat goods in person is at the Trinity Bellwoods Flea on March 19.
Catherine, thank you for sharing your story with the A Quarter Young community once again. We cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for Oh My Cat!!