New Yorker Tania Isenstein had been bringing her dogs to pet care center Camp Canine on New York’s Upper West Side for years. A life-long dog lover, Isenstein wanted to find a way to do what she really loved: work with animals. So she decided to leave her decades-long career on Wall Street to buy Camp Canine and provide pet owners with the very best care for their furry friends. Five years later, she has increased the company’s formerly failing revenues by 300 percent and employs over 40 people.
Isenstein’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
After spending 20 years in a career that I did not love, I came to the realization that I needed to do something that I actually wanted to do. After considerable thought, I realized that the one thing in this world that always makes me happy is dogs. I wanted to be able to make a living and work with dogs. As a former attorney at an investment bank, I knew the challenges of being a dog mom and having a demanding career. I knew that I could provide a great service to dog lovers with demanding schedules.
I define success in so many ways. The first, for my business at least, is being profitable. Without that, nothing else follows. Beyond that, success is prominence in this field, achieving recognition, both from clients every day as well as professional and other organizations.
The biggest success I have had is in turning around the business overall. When I purchased Camp Canine, it was failing. In the first 5 years, revenues increased 300%, and we went from 6 employees to over 40. The top challenge has and continues to be staffing. Finding and then retaining outstanding employees has proven very difficult. In addition, keeping those employees motivated is also difficult. I have addressed it by recruiting all the time — even when we don’t technically need staff. We hire any great person whether or not we need them at that moment.
“As a former attorney at an investment bank, I knew the challenges of being a dog mom and having a demanding career.”
– Tania Isenstein, CEO of Camp Canine
In addition, we have enhanced the benefits we offer (ie, medical, paid leave, commuter, merit bonuses). We also instituted several employee incentive programs, such as our Top Dog of the month award and on-the-spot gift cards for anyone observed personifying our core values.
My most important role model is from my time at Goldman Sachs. She was my mentor for over a decade and is now a friend. She exemplified the proposition that excellence is a habit to strive for on a daily basis and to not offer excuses for not getting something done. Hard — and smart — work pays off.