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Introducing X-Purr!

By on October 10, 2016

It’s rare nowadays to see a truly original pole product make it to the market, so we were stoked to hear about X-Purr, the new pole-inspired cat scratcher created by Natasha Wang and Arloa Reston. Since we at Bad Kitty® are clearly cat fans, we wanted to know more about this new product and how it came about, so we sat down with Natasha and Arloa to ask them a few questions:

Bad Kitty®: How did you two decide to become business partners?

Natasha: This past June, Arloa and I were at CatCon [editor’s note: based in Los Angeles, CA] wandering around the show floor oohing and aahing over cute catnip toys shaped like hamburgers and T-shirts with Grumpy Cat on them, when we saw a vendor selling yoga mats for cats. The lightbulb went off in my head. I turned to Arloa and said: “Cat scratching post that looks like an X-Stage. It’ll be called the X-Purr.” We got very giddy and I basically asked her to take my hand in business partnership marriage, and luckily she agreed.

Arloa: Yep. When Natasha came up with this at CatCon, I thought it was a fun little fantasy of an idea. But the more we talked about it, the more it grew and before we knew it, we had a prototype, filed for a DBA and opened a bank account! Crazy how fast everything moved!

Natasha: I have to backtrack and tell the story of how I met her though. I was judging the Girl Next Door try-outs a few years ago, and she auditioned with this totally off-the-wall piece with multiple costume changes and magic tricks (her husband is an accomplished magician). I remember thinking then, ‘this girl does nothing halfway.’ And it’s true. And that’s pretty much the quality you want in a business partner.

Arloa: That’s hysterical! I of course knew who Natasha was before the Girl Next Door audition and had seen some of her incredible performances on video. I literally came out of the audition saying to a friend of mine, “Well, if nothing else, Natasha Wang saw me perform and clapped.” Little did I know we’d be in business together less than 3 years later.

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Bad Kitty®: What inspired you to create X-Purr?

Natasha: See above, but really, cats and poles have kind of been a thing for a while now. I’ve had my small line of cat t-shirts (Pole Wine Cats, etc.), leggings and other cat-pole paraphernalia for a few years, and cats have been photo-bombing pole videos since YouTube began. It’s practically a meme. But while there have been cat-themed pole products, there are no pole-themed cat products that we’re aware of, until X-Purr came along!

Bad Kitty®: You’re creating a new niche in the pole market. Do you see room for growth with pole-themed cat products (as opposed to cat themed pole products)?

Arloa: The cat market is HUGE. Much larger than the pole market. If you were to look at the Instagram hashtag popularity of “cats” vs. “pole,” the “cats” hashtag pulls up almost 38 million Instagram posts (strangely, #catsofinstagram pulls up even more – over 43.3 million!), while “pole” only pulls up about 2 million. In 2015, there were more than 2 million cat videos on YouTube, with an average of 12,000 views each, which is a higher average than any other category of YouTube content. That’s hardly a scientific analysis, but you get the gist. The market for cat products is way larger than the relatively small market for pole.

So basically, we’re counting on combining the viral potential of cats and the growing viral potential of pole and for a total lockdown on the pole-themed cat toy business.

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Bad Kitty®: What was the creative process like? How hands-on were you at the beginning/are you now?

Natasha: CatCon was on June 27th and by the next day we were sending DIY articles back and forth about how to make our own cat scratching post. By the following week, we were creating our logo and ordering supplies and then we built our first prototype in Arloa’s living room. Then it was all about mapping out our production timeframe, contacting wholesale vendors and suppliers, securing our website URLs, filing for our DBA, securing our resale license, opening our joint business account, filming and photographing assets for our Kickstarter campaign, building out our social media presence, writing our marketing language, creating promotional fliers, designing X-Purr t-shirts, drafting our launch press release, compiling our media distribution lists, determining our ordering and fulfillment strategy (thank you, X-Pole!), and of course, figuring out how we were going to continue our crazy teaching and travel schedules while meeting all of our deadlines (Pole Expo for our Kickstarter and official brand launch, and the holidays in December for our first ship date).

We’ve also curried just about every favor possible from our husbands — Brett for graphic design and legal counsel, and Austin for web development/design, video production and photography.

This hardly sounds like a ‘creative process,’ more like what one would call ‘work’! But it’s been an amazing experience and learning curve, especially for me, as it’s the first business I’ve ever co-founded and the first business partnership I’ve ever had.

Both Arloa and I have been very hands-on from the very beginning, although because of my crazy tour schedule, Arloa has had to carry a lot of the weight while I’m on the road. Bless her for it! She’s also the organizational brains behind the business, as my noggin goes into Lala Land when I’m traveling and teaching.

Arloa: In the beginning it was lots of emails back and forth with ideas and links and more ideas and links. Lots of brainstorming and creating the vision which was tons of fun. Then we had to get down to figuring out how to turn the visions into reality which was still fun, but we had to start dealing with the realities of weeding out ideas that we couldn’t make work or that were too expensive. And of course, we also had to deal with all the nitty gritty business detail work that Natasha mentioned. We’ve both been very hands on and have had to be. When I look back at everything we’ve managed to accomplish in just a few short months (on top of crazy teaching and travel schedules), it’s pretty incredible! I truly believe that when things are right, obstacles move out of the way and things happen in an almost magical way. And this has been pretty magical! Natasha and I work incredibly well together. We both have crazy ideas but when it comes down to breaking up the work, we complement each other pretty ideally. Natasha is totally on top of all the things that give me a headache! It’s nice that she’s giving me credit for carrying a lot of the weight while she’s on the road, but honestly, she’s carried just as much weight. I tell her pretty much daily that I don’t know how she’s able to do everything she manages to do! And our men do get a lot of credit as well. They have worked super hard and put in long hours helping us get this thing off the ground.

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Bad Kitty®: What has been the easiest part of the process? What as been the most challenging/difficult?

Arloa: The easiest part is coming up with fun product ideas! The travel has been rough. I normally travel about once or twice a year. But this year, between July and October I suddenly had 4 trips planned! And Natasha’s on the road 70% of the year teaching workshops and pole camps, judging events and performing. We’ve been in different time zones and had insane schedules, but somehow have managed to make everything work.

Bad Kitty®: What has the reaction been like?

Arloa: So positive. We met our Kickstarter goal a week ahead of our deadline, and it was largely due to the overwhelming support from the pole community and from our friends and families, who helped fund this wacky idea of ours.

Bad Kitty®: How has X Pole responded?

Natasha: X-Pole was brought into the fold pretty much from the onset and have been amazing from the very beginning. I’ve been a sponsored X-Pole athlete since 2011, and consider X-Pole my family, and Arloa is an official X-Pole reseller, so we of course wanted to get their blessing before we did anything. After several meetings, this blessing turned into us working more closely together. X-Pole will be handling our ordering fulfillment and shipping, and we’re working on some licensing deals with them right now.

Bad Kitty®: Why do you think so many polers have an affinity for cats?

Arloa: Cats are slinky, independent, flexible, sexy and alluring, just like pole dancers. And what’s not to love about a cat???

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Bad Kitty®: How have kitties responded?

Arloa: My cats Monet and Tabitha are obsessed with the X-Purr, and they’ve even starred in a series of promo videos we’ve been releasing during the duration of our Kickstarter launch. (HERE and HERE). We even brought the X-Purr to Cat Connection, a cat rescue organization in Sherman Oaks, CA, which is also where Natasha and I adopted our 5 kitties. Mitz (already adopted!) and Titus Andronicus did a little doubles pole routine, which we captured here.

Bad Kitty®: What’s the next step for X-Purr?

Natasha: We have some big things planned, one of which we’ve signed a confidentiality agreement not to talk about, but it’s big and exciting! Our Kickstarter ends on Oct. 12th, so once that’s wrapped up, it’s full steam ahead in terms of manufacturing the actual product and getting out orders. Once those are out the door, we move into product development and prototyping for three more products we want introduced after the New Year.

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Bad Kitty®: Do you have any further plans for the brand?

Natasha: Yes, see above. Lots of new products and an expansion of X-Purr.

Bad Kitty®: We assume you have kitties of your own. Would you tell us about them?

Natasha: I own three adopted cats, all adopted within the past year from Cat Connection in Sherman Oaks. You (Danielle! editor’s note: the author) know Sir Digby Chicken Caesar and Pyewacket well, as you’ve been a surrogate cat mommy to my cats for a few years now (little known fact, pole people!). Our newest addition is Queen Latifur. Sir Digby is probably the most intelligent cat I’ve ever owned. He loves people, is very dog-like and obsessed with shadows, lasers and destroying cardboard. Pyewacket is shy and sweet, a very gentle affectionate cat who just wants to be cuddled and loved. Queenie is beautiful but a little neurotic. She’s definitely the Queen and the alpha female. She’s a little mean to the other cats, and has a thing for rough play and biting, but she’ll turn on the charm offensive and shower you with licks and kisses.

Arloa: I have two girl kitties (and one boy pug who wishes he was a kitty!) Monet is a super playful and feisty Tortico (blend of Tortie and Calico) who is skittish around strangers but glued to my side all day long except for bedtime which she has reserved for “daddy time” (when my husband brushes her).  Tabitha is a gorgeous Maine Coon who spends most of her time sleeping and eating, but has spurts of playfulness about three times a day and likes to cuddle in the mornings. Each of them thinks the X-Purr is their property and they battle over it whenever Tabitha is awake!

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Thank you to Natasha and Arloa for sitting down to answer our questions! You can find out more about X-Purr by checking out all of the info on their website at http://xpurr.com/ .

Disclosure: Danielle, the author, has been a cat sitter to Natasha’s cats for years, and as such, is mentioned in this article. 

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Danielle C.

Danielle C.

Creative entity, cat mom, dog auntie, consumer of too much sugar. Pole and lyra enthusiast, amateur foodie, local explorer. One half of Poleitical Clothing. Read my musings at www.poleitical.com.
Danielle C.

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