DogTime interviews Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella, winner of the 2011 Petties Award for Best Social Media Integration Blog. Congratulations, Stephanie!
DogTime: Who or what is the inspiration for your blog?
Stephanie Harwin: My blog was inspired by my 10-year-old tuxedo cat, Priscilla. Before she came into my life, I was a crazy cat lady without a cat, but once I found her, my passion for “all things cat” grew even deeper. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
DT: How did your blog begin?
SH: I was feeling very uninspired, and started Catsparella as a creative outlet for myself. I was already spending a great deal of time looking for interesting content on the web to share with my friends, and thought it would be cool to have a place where I could keep a collection of all of my favorite finds, and share them with an even larger audience. While there are many wonderful cat sites out there, I didn’t feel like any of them were covering all of the specific topics I was interested in. In addition to my love of cats, I also have a deep passion for pop culture, and wanted to include elements of that as well. While my blog is truly, “all cats, all the time,” I’ve also been successful in finding ways to relate cats to other areas of interest in my life.
DT: Has your life changed since you started blogging? If so, how?
SH: Yes, blogging has made a dramatic difference in my life. In addition to helping me regain my confidence and “creative spirit,” it has also allowed me to discover my strengths, and put me on a whole new career path. Blogging has also afforded me the opportunity to do things I never would’ve imagined, such as attending various pet conferences and events, traveling to St. Louis as a finalist in the Purina Cat Chow Correspondent position, and being invited to Los Angeles be a guest blogger on the set of the new Fancy Feast “Something Borrowed” Storybook Wedding Commercial.
Most importantly, I feel so much more connected to my own cats through working on the blog, and am thankful that my work has introduced me to such a wonderful, supportive community of like-minded cat bloggers who have not only become my friends, but also motivate and inspire me.
DT: What does winning a Petties Award mean to you?
SH: Winning a Petties award means so much to me, both personally and professionally. On a professional level, it makes me feel like all of the time and hard work I put into Catsparella is paying off. On a personal level, it feels amazing to be able to donate the $1,000 prize money to Tabby’s Place.
DT: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
SH: At its core, Catsparella is a blog that aims to enlighten and entertain. I try to post fun and uplifting stories, feature unique products, highlight trends, and track the role cats are currently playing in popular culture. I hope that readers not only enjoy my posts, but find them relatable, and want to share them with their friends. On another level, it was also created as a living, breathing resume of my work to prove that I had capabilities outside of my role in corporate Human Resources. If anyone is looking to hire an award-winning cat blogger, give me a call!
DT: How did you decide which organization would receive the Petties donation money?
SH: While I love all animals, I felt that since my blog is dedicated to cats, it was important to select an organization focused on helping felines. Tabby’s Place is located in my home state of New Jersey, and was the first place that came to mind because I had been to one of their open houses, and was extremely impressed by the facility, and its passionate, devoted group of staff and volunteers.
In April of 1999, Tabby’s Place founder Jonathan Rosenberg and his wife learned that their beloved cat, Tabby, had untreatable cancer and only months to live. The painful realization of Tabby’s impending death made Rosenberg think about what he was doing with his own life, and question if he was really making a difference. This difficult
period of introspection led him to resign from his job, and commit the next four years to creating Tabby’s Place, a cage-free sanctuary for cats rescued from hopeless situations.
Since that time, Tabby’s Place has rescued more than 1,000 cats, many of them with special needs. The facility functions as an adoption center, a hospital, and hospice for their feline residents, who primarily come from public shelters where they were once scheduled for euthanasia. Please visit their website at http://www.tabbysplace.org for more information.
I’m unbelievably thrilled to have the opportunity to make this donation, and want to say thank you to Dogtime Media, and to everyone who voted and helped make this possible!
Check out all the Petties winners’ interviews…