A Woman For All Seasons Interview

A Woman For All Seasons: How a Stay-at-Home Mom Reinvented Herself as a Small Business Owner

Lori Fabianac was growing a successful career as a banker when she changed tracks to be a stay at home mom.  When she was finally ready to re-enter the workforce, she took a hard look at her job skills and wondered: am I obsolete? Years later, Lori is the owner of Club K-9, an award-winning kennel and doggie daycare.

What path led you to entrepreneurship? 

I think women go through different seasons in their lives.  My personal trajectory was college, career and then family. When I was ready to go back to work, I took a realistic assessment of my job skills. I felt obsolete and insecure. I knew I had to reinvent myself.

What do you see as a challenge for women entrepreneurs?

I came of age during a time when women were getting mixed messages about choosing career over family. We want to do it all but we don’t always have the bandwidth. I’ve had to be very disciplined in prioritizing.

What’s rewarding about being a women entrepreneur?

I had a female mentor in my corporate life who taught me the importance of paying it forward. I learned early on: if we lift each other up, we all succeed together. I’m at a place now where I can help other women succeed. I have an all-woman management team and I also look to support other women-owned businesses in my community.

How did you choose your bank?

We’re not a cookie-cutter business. We needed someone who would take the time to understand our business and also help walk me through the loan process. I went with a local banker because they were very collaborative from the start.

What’s been the biggest challenge in starting up your business?

There’s an important infrastructure behind the scenes of a kennel like ours.  We needed a significant amount of land, appropriate regulatory zoning and several buildings to make our vision work.  Finding somewhere that all three came together in the Bay Area is very difficult.

How did you come up with the business idea for a kennel?

Our family traveled extensively throughout Europe because of my husband’s job. We noticed that dogs are much more integrated into their owner’s lifestyle. You’ll often see dogs in cafes and in stores. When we returned to the U.S., we saw more of this same trend. I was inspired to create a doggie daycare where dogs are lovingly treated like a member of the family.

How did learn about canine care? Did you have a business plan?

I was raised on a ranch in rural Nevada, so I grew up surrounded by cattle, horses and dogs. I’ve always had a strong connection to animals. Meanwhile, my former career in banking came in handy when I considered different business models and drafted my plans. I love how my two past lives have come together in Club K-9.

How do environmental issues factor into your business?

We’re very conscious of our environment and we’re looking to invest in areas where we can be a greener business. We’re protecting the planet for our children, and our children’s children.

Where do you go when you need advice? 

I have a terrific network of women friends in the professional world whom I often call on to test out ideas or ask for advice. Also, my family has been my best support and resource.

What is the legacy you want to leave as a women business owner?

I have two children, and they’re my most important legacy. I hope they see me as a positive role model. With passion and perseverance — and a good business plan – I believe we achieve our goals.

Why do you think you’ve been successful?

From day one, we set out to exceed our customers’ expectations – drop off concierge service, on-site veterinary staff, 15 fenced-in play yards, water misters for hot days. I never lose sight that we’re a service industry business. And, it’s paid off. Our business has been largely word of mouth.

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