Camp Canine’s Tania Isenstein explains how to survive the pandemic
TEXT: In February 2020, Covid began to ravage New York.
Tania: When we first started hearing about Covid, I personally had no idea how serious the situation was. People say, “Oh, we all have post traumatic stress disorder. No, I currently have traumatic stress. I am on edge and much more often sad than happy.
Tania: Of course the only thing that makes me happy are dogs, so it’s useful.
TEXT: Tania Eisentstein – Founder + CEO – Camp Canine, New York, NY
Tania: Camp Canine is a comprehensive pet care facility. We have grooming and swimming here. We take your dogs or cats on board for the night. We have a daycare for your dogs or cats. And we also treated a rabbit once, but that’s not something we do on a regular basis.
TEXT: Tania started her career as a business lawyer in New York.
Tania: When I started practicing law, I liked it. But most of all, I think I liked the lifestyle. It was very important for me to earn a living and to be independent financially and otherwise.
TEXT: In 1994, Tania went to work at Goldman Sachs.
TEXT: After 16 years there, earning a living was no longer satisfying.
Tania: I had trouble getting up in the morning. I had a hard time concentrating on work and ended up not doing a good job anymore because of all of these things. What became more obvious to me was that I really needed to do something that I loved. I understood what makes me happy: dogs.
TEXT: Tania has decided to quit her job and buy a dog-centric business.
Tania: I had a dog. His name was Mushu. And in fact, having it had a huge influence on the direction I took with the company. I knew I wanted to provide all the services a person with a very demanding job would need to take care of a dog in town. We therefore carry out pick-ups and drop-offs. We have overtime late hours for those who need it. We will take your dog to the vet if you wish.
TEXT: Tania found a dog daycare just two blocks from her house.
Tania: When I visited it and reviewed it for purchase, I could see it was a struggling business. But I could see that this place had very good bones.
TEXT: Tania used her savings to buy the business.
TEXT: She renovated the facility.
TEXT: She added a daycare and boarding house for cats.
Tania: When I took over Canine Camp, the total income was around $ 300,000. In about seven years, they will be well over $ 2 million per year.
TEXT: At the end of 2019, Tania had 50 employees.
Tania: In January 2020, our revenue was over $ 2 million and my personal goal was to reach $ 2.5 this year and $ 3, maybe, in two years. And we have pursued this goal very aggressively and successfully. However, February has struck.
TEXT: When Covid slammed New York City shut, Tania had to shut down.
Tania: Horrible, horrible time, several horrible weeks. I did not sleep. It was just awful.
TEXT: She was forced to put her employees on leave.
Tania: I went through some phases where I said to myself: “It’s not worth fighting. No need to come back. It’s such a problem, it’s such a fight.
Tania: But so many clients have called me and written to tell me how important the Canine Camp is to them in their life. This is what kept me going.
TEXT: Customers have sent thousands of dollars to help Tania’s staff.
TEXT: She finally received a loan from the government to cover part of her overhead costs.
TEXT: At the end of May, the city slowly started to reopen.
Tania: The clients were quite slow to come back because people were always out of town, of course, and people were still working from home. The only area in high demand was grooming. Everyone’s pets, like the rest of us, needed help with their hair
TEXT: Tania applies strict hygiene controls.
Tania: We call it “valet barking”, where they’re at the curb and they ring the doorbell and we go out, pick up the dog and let him in. So the only humans in this building are the employees.
TEXT: But Tania was only able to rehire half of her staff.
TEXT: Income is still down almost 50%.
Tania: Now it’s a good day when we have about 40 dogs in the daycare, which was the case when I took over Canine Camp eight years ago. So we are back a bit to the starting point.
Tania: My relationship with my dogs, I couldn’t imagine it could have been any deeper, and yet it happened.
Tania: I have a lot more fighting in me right now. The encouragement from my clients really got me excited.
Tania SOT: Yes! 100 percent off.
Tania: And I’m determined to get this back. And when I’m determined, things don’t stop me.
Tania SOT: Good job, Nacho. Stay here, bubba. Stay on this side. Here is!