DARIA SURNEVA and Walking the Cat
From Mom to Mompreneur
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH MASTERCARD
I had heard of Walking the Cat before ever having met Daria. A mutual friend of ours from my prenatal class told me about Daria and her new (to Berlin) concept for an online childrens shop with cool clothing and interior brands. I was so excited at the time to know that something like this would be an option, just in time for the birth of my second daughter, and I have been a fan of Daria’s ever since! She saw a gap in the market and has filled it beautifully...first with her online shop and then with her amazing store in Berlin Mitte. I sat down with Daria recently to find out the secrets to her success and talk about some of the challenges of being a woman entrepreneur. Daria is for sure a woman who knows what is means to, “start something priceless.”
What inspired you to create Walking the Cat?
“Networking and social media are key.”
My love for kids fashion! When my first daughter was born eight years ago the whole kids fashion market was not so saturated. There were some nice international brands out there designing beautiful products for kids, attentive to quality and design of course, but also the environmental and ethical aspects of production. But, at the time, only a few retail stores and online shops were stocking these brands. So, fast forward a couple of years and I started Walking the Cat, first online and then a physical store in Berlin Mitte. Nowadays, of course, there are so many more beautiful online shops and brick-and-mortar stores worldwide, which is a great development for the kids fashion industry, but makes it more difficult to survive in this market.
How did you come up with the name, Walking the Cat?
We were looking for a name that’s easy to remember and not so typical for a kids store, so “catwalk” became “walking the cat”.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a business owner?
Every small business is founder-dependent and it’s not easy to let go of certain decisions and responsibilities, and that can sometimes make it difficult to grow. Having enough cash flow to cover all the bills is quite challenging as well. The most challenging part, though, are the working hours and constant pressure to perform, especially when you have kids.
What advice would you give to moms thinking of starting their own business?
First, it’s not necessary to be a “born entrepreneur”. Just finding something you’re passionate about makes it possible to move mountains. Second, surround yourself with supportive people. If this is your first business, try to connect with someone who’s been through it already. Third, start small and be ready to do everything by yourself at the beginning. This will give you the opportunity to learn the entire process in your business sector. And finally, you’ll likely be starting out with some money...try not to spend it on stuff you don’t need!
What is the best marketing resource for your brand?
Social Media (IG and FB) and kids fairs in Paris and Copenhagen.
Where do you advise moms starting their own business to put their marketing efforts?
Networking and social media are key.
“I don’t work on the weekends, so we try to do something nice as a family.”
How do you manage your time between work and family?
During the day my kids are at kindergarten or school and we spend our afternoons together, either at the shop, home or the playground. Needless to say they prefer being at home or at the playground. I don’t work on the weekends, so we try to do something nice as a family. I believe children (especially young ones) take what they need. When the kids are ill, for example, I stay with them no matter how busy I am.
What wisdom do you hope to pass on to your daughters?
In terms of work, I hope they learn that nothing should be taken for granted. You will have to work and study to achieve something in your professional life.
In terms of life, I want them to know and feel that they are deeply loved. This is the most important thing...not the zoo, the toys or the ten holidays a year. I grew up in Russia without any of these things. My mother worked full-time and raised me and my sister as a single mom, with a lot of help from our grandparents. When I look back, though, I think about what a wonderful childhood I had.
“I want them to know and feel that they are deeply loved.”
Favorite restaurant with kids?
Fechtner and Mädchenitaliener in Berlin Mitte.
Favorite holiday spots?
Portugal, Formentera and Regenbogen Camp Prerow
Favorite place to shop for yourself?
I mainly shop in the stores on my street or in the neighborhood where my shop is. My favorites are Fête de la Boutique, Hotel Paris, lala Berlin, and Orlando. I don’t really buy much clothing, and mainly stick to Vivienne Westwood. I try to buy less, choose well and make it last. I try to steer away from online shopping, mass market clothing and things like Amazon.
Daria is the founder of Walking the Cat (Mulackstraße 32, Berlin Mitte) and a Wunder Stories community member.
All images by CLAIRE KIDMAN