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Conversations with Dana Valenti

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Valenti.

Hi Dana, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
My husband and I visited a few cat cafes in Thailand in the fall of 2014. We were instantly in love and knew that we wanted to share this concept with everyone at home. The thing that really struck us with the Thai cat cafes though was that they did not solve a problem.

The cats at those cafes are all high-end breeds and are not adoptable. Meanwhile, there are stray cats begging for food literally on the steps of the cat cafe. It was a strange sight and we knew that we could open a cat cafe and help cats in need at the same time. We started planning how we would open the cafe while we were still in Thailand and when we returned to the states we hit the ground running.

We already owned the building so as long as we could get Maplewood to agree to the business (they did!) we knew we would be able to do it. We ran a successful Kickstarter that helped us raise money for construction costs and within 2 years of our concept, we opened our doors.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Covid was definitely the biggest struggle for us. We closed for a few months because there were so many unknowns at we didn’t want to risk anyone’s safety.

We were able to receive government assistance for a while which helped us to continue to care for the cats and keep the lights on and we also received a lot of generous donations from our followers. Cat people are the best people without a doubt.

We opened back up slowly with very limited private reservations for a long time and that helped us get through. Prior to Covid, it was a pretty smooth road, and we are in a good place now with an amazing staff who prioritizes safety which is really important right now.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
When people ask ‘What do you do?’ I always stumble a bit because there is no concise answer. My husband and I own a software company and rental properties in addition to Mauhaus, so my day-to-day life is a combination of a lot of things. I do a lot of admin work which is not really a fun conversational topic.

I run the Mauhaus social media and I really love taking photos of the cats and getting to know them. It’s always been fun to showcase them and let their personalities shine. I’m a designer at heart so when I get to design a new shirt for the cafe it makes me really happy.

If I ever have free time I really enjoy designing tessellations. A lot of the designs have been cat-related for obvious reasons, but we have a cat-themed art fair at the cafe every year and I sell my work there.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
One of the best things that I’ve learned is that when you have a tight-knit community in a time of crisis people will be there for you. Between our staff and our customers, people have been so kind and understanding.

It was such a scary thing to go into, navigating the health and safety of our staff as well as our cats, and it was definitely made easier by everyone’s support.

Pricing:

  • Reservations are $11/hr for adults
  • $6/hr for children 12 and under

Contact Info:

  • Email: info@mauhauscafe.com
  • Website: https://mauhauscafe.com/
  • Instagram: @mauhauscafe
  • Facebook: @mauhauscafe
  • Twitter: @mauhauscafe

Image Credits
Mauhaus

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