In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), we will feature a female entrepreneur every week for the entire month — giving you an exclusive, first-hand look into 24 hours of their day. This week, we’re getting up close and personal with Lora Lakanal, who co-founded Namastray, a 501(c)(3) non-profit cat rescue & lounge with her friend Tori Viola.
Their mission brings about a mindful approach to cat rescue and adoption. “Operating in the form of a lounge, Namastray will offer a relaxing environment to hang out with the adoptable cats. Our lounge will serve as a foster home while our team works to find placement for all of the cats in our care. A zen space free of cages allows guests to interact with the cats in a natural setting. We will offer a variety of services such as yoga, meditation, sound baths, and workshops that will benefit the humans and felines.” Their mission brings about a mindful approach to cat rescue and adoption.
“My co-founder Tori Viola and I are both employed full time until Namastray opens its location, which you can help make possible through our Indiegogo campaign. A day off together is a time to get things done, and looks like this…” Read on to see how Lori spends her day in San Diego, California. Then scroll down for a brief Q&A to get to know her better and get inspired!
8 A.M. I wake up and set an intention for the day. I analyze the To-Do list for the day with an oat milk latte, and a cup or two of green tea, depending on the length of the To-Do list.
9 A.M. I meet up with Tori for a vinyasa flow yoga class at our favorite studio Sojourn.
10 A.M. Get some fuel for our jam-packed day. We’re both huge fans of breakfast, and known to create some pretty epic plant-based meals!
10:30 A.M. Go through and send out any outstanding emails, check our Indiegogo page, and our social media channels.
11 A.M. Update our social media channels and our Indiegogo page. We post updates regularly, and engage with our backers because we found keeping active is key!
12 P.M. Lately, we’ve been viewing properties as potential locations for Namastray. Namastray is a unique concept and will require a location with unique renovations, along with an open-minded landlord, but we’re fortunate to live in a very receptive city!
2 P.M. Meeting with our board members to map out our plan of action post-Indiegogo campaign. Our board members are a crucial part of Namastray, and we could not be this far in our journey without them! During a meeting, we will go over everything — from planning upcoming fundraisers within our community to discussing challenges to working on next steps to securing our location.
5 P.M. We take a quick break to enjoy some dinner.
6 P.M. It’s TNR time! We have been volunteering with ECAR as trappers for their Trap, Neuter, Return program. As trappers, we help capture stray cats so that they may be neutered, and then returned to their home. Since San Diego is constantly in kitten season, TNR is the effective and humane way to control the overwhelming feral cat population. Being a trapper is similar to a game of Pokémon GO in real life. If you’re interested in helping, please check out eastcountyanimalrescue.org!
9 P.M. We go our separate ways, and we both work on our yin yoga practice at home.
10 P.M. One last round of going through emails, checking out our Indiegogo page, and social media channels while I unwind with a cup of chamomile tea.
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what their day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with co-founders Lora and Tori below!
INDIEGOGO: How did you become an entrepreneur?
TORI: I think we both always have been entrepreneurs at heart. We realized a long time ago that working hard toward something you don’t care much about is stressful, but working hard for something you love is passion. We have always felt the need to be of service and to dedicate ourselves to a calling.
IGG: What makes your business unique?
LORA: One of Namastray’s main goals is to help reshape pet adoption as we know it. The cat cafes that inspired us paved the way as a cage-free way for cats to interact with potential adopters in a natural setting. What will make Namastray unique will be its emphasis on yoga and wellness. I have my 200 power vinyasa yoga certification, and recently we both got certified as yin yoga instructors. Self-care is extremely important, especially for those in the rescue community, yoga not only satisfies that need but it also is a means of playing and bonding for the cats. Cats are zen masters and we can all learn a thing or two from the way they relax!
IGG: What’s your best advice for women entrepreneurs?
LORA: My biggest piece of advice for female entrepreneurs is to trust your instincts. If your heart is telling you to do something, then you need to go for it! Don’t let others hold you back and especially don’t let yourself be the one to hold you back. Manifest your dreams and work towards them every damn day!
IGG: Any tools you recommend to anyone starting their own business?
TORI: Our best tool is our community. A non-profit organization simply cannot thrive without one. I assume any for-profit business also needs people in their corner cheering them on and believing in their work.
LORA: Some apps that have been great tools are Canva for making flyers and creating content, Planoly to schedule posts ahead of time which has been incredibly helpful in our hectic lives, VSCO to edit photos our cute cat photos, and good ol’ Google Docs to keep important info together. A book we love that’s a bit more specific to our field, but we believe is an important read for cat owners or those in the rescue community is Hannah Shaw’s Tiny But Mighty.
IGG: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign?
TORI: Well, we are bit biased. My favorite Indiegogo campaign of all-time was The Catcade, an arcade-themed non-profit cat rescue and lounge in Chicago. We think their concept is the most unique cat cafe in the country. They were the inspiration for our own project to dig deeper and find our niche, because it is very challenging to succeed as just a cat cafe alone. I wear my Catcade T-shirt perk all the time when I’m volunteering! Also, an honorable mention is HUNU, the collapsible to-go coffee cup, because I’m a caffeine addict, who hates single-use plastics. Also, the Grimalkin Tarot, a beautiful cat-themed deck of cards.
To support Namastray, check out their Indiegogo campaign page.