I run two small businesses — Cléo’s Collective (for music licensing and creative services), and Blessed by Cléo (for miniature pet portraits and painted jewelry!) — and both are named after my cat. Not only is she the namesake of these endeavors, but I also refer to her as my business partner and co-founder.
1) Company Company
Even though I love the freedom and flexibility of working from home, it can get a little lonely. I have clients and collaborators, but I don’t have employees, coworkers, or anyone I see on a regular basis during work hours. Cléo makes sure my home office isn’t void of movement, life, and variety.
Scheduling my own hours is both a blessing and a curse. It allows me to work whenever I feel productive, and take as much time off as I need or can afford. At the same time, it becomes very easy to procrastinate, mess up my sleep schedule, forget to eat, or lack a sense of structure in my days.
I tend to both go to sleep and wake up on the later side, but Cléo keeps me in check by making it known when she’s ready for us to get our day started or wrapped up. I typically make my dinner at the same time as I feed her, and she makes sure that happens at a reasonable time.
3) Taking Breaks
Anyone can get sucked into a task they’re focused on, but this is especially prevalent in my life due to ADHD hyper focus and “time blindness,” where I have difficulty monitoring how much time is passing. I can tell whenever Cléo thinks I’ve been at my desk too long because she’ll sit in the doorway and stare at me with sleepy narrowed eyes.
Whenever she gets restless or wants my attention, it interrupts my focus enough to recenter myself, change up the way I’m sitting, or just be present with her for a moment. I’ve also taught her the meaning of several words to give her the option of communicating her needs through buttons (her favorites include “play,” “cuddles,” “food,” “water,” “let’s go,”), which are often times what prompt me to stand up, take a break, or move locations.
4) Cleaning Up
Fortunately, Cléo’s pretty good about staying off of my art desk and not getting into things. However, there have been a few instances of trouble — such as stepping in paint or carrying off a brush. Both for her sake and my own, I do my best to maintain a decently organized workspace. This would benefit me regardless, but without the motivation of cat proofing, who knows how often I’d straighten up, put away my supplies, or clean my brushes!
5) Quality Control
Cléo doesn’t watch what I’m doing very often, but often times when I get up from my art desk, she’ll hop up on my chair to check out what I’ve been working on. I like to think she’s taking on the role of quality control. She’s pretty gracious and non-judgmental, and isn’t one to criticize — still, the feeling of being observed adds a healthy touch of pressure, and reminds me to take a second look at my work to catch any changes I might want to make.
As much as I’m happy to share my personality online, I don’t always like being the face of things. Cléo, on the other hand — either by herself or with me — doesn’t seem to mind. I always like photos of myself better when she’s there too, because she makes me feel more natural and brings more life into the frame. She’s a great ally in the marketing game, and between my company logos & my new stamp, she adds something special to my packaging too.
So, at the end of the day, while a human-cat business duo may seem a little funny, I really do credit her as a valuable team member. Not a day goes by when I question the value she offers to my career or regret choosing her as my businesses’ namesake.