By Lahari Tammera ’23
A couple of years ago, I was joking around with my sister about how it’d be cool to own my own cafe and how we could create a fun menu and start a business from the ground up. I wanted it to be an establishment with South Asian fusion menu items with the look and aesthetic of a French cafe. I didn’t realize it then, but that idea would continue to stick with me for the years to come. As time passed, I began to realize exactly how much I wanted that random idea to actually come to life and become a reality.
But then came the doubt. I wasn’t sure if it was a career path that I could see for myself and I wasn’t sure if I would end up being able to enact the type of social change I wanted to see through my cafe. I found myself doing research here and there, trying to make my idea into something with a solid foundation. But the thought that I could fail and that it wouldn’t end up being as amazing as I wanted it to kept nagging at me.
Through my research, I stumbled upon a UMD alumna that was doing some amazing work through her own cafe. I was shocked to see that there was someone who had graduated from the same exact university that I was attending, who chose to go into a similar path. Her name is Kanchan Singh and she is the CEO and founder of Crumbs & Whiskers.
Her idea is a very innovative one and her cat cafe was one of the first few in the entire United States. It was a concept that wasn’t seen as common here but is very popular in other countries. As said on the Crumbs & Whiskers website, they partner with rescues that save homeless cats at risk of euthanasia and house them in their different cafe locations. They let people come in and play with these cats and keep them in their cafes until they’re adopted! All their menu items aren’t made in-house.
I was so surprised and elated to see a South Asian woman from UMD create a cafe that works to help in a social cause. It made me believe that I too could maybe create something great that would be helpful to people in my community.
Kanchan’s business flourished from having one central location in Washington DC, to having another storefront in Los Angeles. The importance and impact that social entrepreneurship can create are seen here in a real-life example. According to their website, 1612 cats have been adopted, 3311 cats have been saved from euthanasia, and $392000 has been donated to charity through all the hard work that was done at Crumbs & Whiskers.
If you want to learn more about Kanchan and her journey, you can check out the Crumbs & Whiskers website (they have merch!) or you can listen to her podcast episode on the Dingman Center’s Bootstrapped show!