“It was quite a blessing to come to the realization that, yes, I can do what I love and pay the bills,” says Valentina Vayntraub, a thirty-two year old professional pet sitter, dog walker, and founder of Lap of Luxury Pet & Home Care of Marlboro, New Jersey. “And what a relief because, believe me, I was beginning to wonder where I was headed myself.”
It may come as a surprise that an animal-lover like Valentina held a variety of jobs outside of the pet care industry before jumping into her latest venture. This professional is not your run of the mill business owner. Her academic history spans continents.
The Russian immigrant to the US grew up between nations, and eventually attended college at an American school. She took courses in business and gained firsthand experience running and managing her mother’s hair salon for eight years.
“Business is a tough cookie to get your bearings in,” she says. “There is so much to do, so many people to talk to, so many things to keep track of, and so little time to do it all.”
With other stints at places like Lowes, Home Décor, and Stanley Capital, she learned that boredom and a lack of time and flexibility wouldn’t lead her very far on her journey to happiness and success. For people like Valentina, tapping into personal interests can be the best way to discover a potentially satisfying field of work.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be surrounded by animals,” she recalls.
At first glance, animal lovers are usually drawn to the veterinary field. Like many others, Valentina yearned to be a veterinarian as a young girl.
“I wanted to help sick animals get better and live a long, happy life. As I grew older and began to understand the complexities beyond giving a dog a magic, get-well pill, the idea of digging in living things made my stomach uneasy and, let’s face it, you have to have guts of steel for that type of work. Bless our vets!”
So, what happens if the idea of needles, blood, and surgery makes you squeamish, as it did Valentina? Giving up isn’t the only option. You can invent the perfect job.
“For one who loves animals as much as I do,” she remembers, “it took a surprisingly long time for me to come around into the pet care industry.”
And, when she made up her mind, Valentina decided to go for it with gusto.
“Holding my breath and taking the plunge,” she remembers, “I quit my job, dove into pet sitting full time, and never looked back!”
Aside from leaving it all behind to pursue a dream, many business owners grapple with the question of whether or not to get a partner. While, for some, it can be a relief to lighten the workload, others find that they handle responsibilities better on their own.
“Finding a partner is kind of like finding a soul mate,” Valentina says. “After realizing that I was doing all the walking, marketing, advertising, promotions, website building, etc… I decided that I’m better off alone, with my pets. While it’s still hectic, and, at times, overwhelming, there is nothing else I’d rather do.”
Rather than relying on only one other person to help run the show, some people enlist the help of a mentor. Fortunately, for Valentina, her family provided plenty of inspiration and advice.
“Being in a family who has been through some tough times, we tend to stick together and keep close in living and working quarters,” she says. “My mother, certainly, taught me that nothing is impossible and that hard work and love for your craft will pave the way to a bright future.”
Following that advice, and keeping busy with plans to expand her multi-functioning pet care business, Valentina has made great use of tools such as Facebook and Twitter, updating and maintaining infomation for clients. She has also made meaningful connections to a variety of affiliates, such as Pet Sitters International, an educator and supporter of thousands of pet sitters; Monmouth County SPCA, a local animal shelter; and other animal hospitals and organizations. Due to the demand of Valentina’s services, her company’s website will soon become a useful tool for scheduling appointments and making quick and easy payments.
Aside from her immediate plans for the future, this young entrepreneur has even more plans of expansion, including a new logo, hiring a part-time pet sitter, and creating an updated marketing strategy.
“Future plans include a physical location for a pet boarding facility that will strive to be the top choice in one-stop-shop pet care,” she envisions.
It’s as if something magical happens when someone finally realizes they can do what they love. For Valentina, she made her own dreams come true.
“To be honest, I was utterly confused [in the past] mainly because I couldn’t believe such an amazing job description, as my current one, existed. It was like a flickering light bulb was finally screwed in, and I was able to see my future. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else; this truly is my dream job.”
For more articles by Sara Kosmyna.
Have you found inspiration from your love of animals or something else? Did it bring you further on your path to greatness? Share your stories below.