Next in our series is Fenella from WEE Companions guinea pig rescue. Read on to find out more…
Continuing our spotlight series we spoke to Fenella, the owner at Wee Companions rescue.
Fenella is a retired registered nurse with over 40 years bedside experience. Fenella decided to give up nursing due to becoming too challenging to balance her job with running the Wee Companions rescue. Originally from London, Fenella now lives in Southern California, USA.
We caught up with Fenella to ask about her plans for the future and how she balances her time.
When did you first fall in love with Guinea Pigs and Why?
I was gifted my first guinea pig, a pink-eyed white Abyssinian female guinea pig at 10 years old from my previous "nursery" teacher. I called her Tufty and loved her for many years.
What do you think the future of the Guinea Pig space looks like and the role of women within it?
Women are natural nurturers and protectors but I love to see men express their passion and love for small pets. I tend not to necessarily look at someone's "identity" or pronouns and look at their heart and common sense when it comes to animals and especially caring for animals in need.
Women are natural nurturers and protectors, but I love to see men express their passion and love for small pets
What are your future plans and goals regarding your career?
My goal is to find someone that can step into the shoes of running the rescue and take over so it allows me to do what I love most about it, getting to know the animals, being creative with social media, fundraising, and sewing (it helps me relax). However, most of all, I like to take care of special needs animals. I am thinking I will always foster them...until I can no longer.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Make a business plan, watch my video on YouTube about starting a rescue and listen to it. That is just the business side. Find a balance between business and private life from the beginning. Otherwise, becoming consumed by animals in need is very easy. Choose your friends and business partners carefully. If you are in charge always remember you will ultimately carry the responsibility for everything someone in your organization says or does. Stay humble and try to keep bridges open. Be kind. Lead as you mean others to follow and for them to teach the ones that come after them.
With the Guinea Pig space being so niche, what challenges have you faced and overcome in your career?
The challenges I have faced seem to be everyone believes their way of doing things is the best. Even if you don't agree with people there always could be some validity to their opinions and be open to consider and discuss. Learn to say "I believe" or "we believe" or "we recommend" that way, others do not feel so threatened and are more open to working with you. By working with others who sometimes think differently from us we have managed to maintain relationships and this has worked out positively in some instances.
Find a balance between business and private life from the beginning. Otherwise, becoming consumed by animals in need is very easy
What barriers do you feel are still left to overcome personally as a woman in business and in the Guinea Pig space?
Barriers are only there if you see them as permanent walls. I like to look at barriers as challenges to think about how they can be worked around or taken down when necessary. I have never looked at the "barriers" being due to being a woman, I tend to see them more as personality challenges and frustrations.
What misconceptions and stigmas were you faced with? One as a woman and two in the guinea pig space?
I don't think I have really been aware of many stigmas and misconceptions. Maybe I have blindly carried on, but I don't see my gender as being any kind of barrier to the work I do.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To my younger self, I would say, take typing class, take multiple computer classes, learn excel, and all about designing stuff on the computer. My computer illiteracy has been a large frustration. Don't let your business become your whole life...there is a beautiful world out there, don't forget about it and go travel and still do the things that light up your life.
I don't see my gender as being any kind of barrier to the work I do.
Is there anything you would do differently looking back on your career?
It's easy to identify things I could have done better but mistakes have led to better practices. Mistakes are a great teacher.
Name one woman who inspires you and why?
Dolly Parton! She is classy, sassy and takes care of others, she remembers her roots. She also is incredibly talented and very funny!
Quote or statement you live by? What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
"Never a wasted trip", Use every journey however short or long to maximize its effect. If you are taking something to the car don't come back empty-handed, even if it's to clear out the trash make that return journey purposeful.
Most important advice: "No one is perfect, not even you!". Leave perfection to God.
We absolutely loved interviewing Fenella for this feature and we wanted to say a huge thank you for taking part and for all her hard work and effort in the guinea pig space. To see more of Fenella visit her website Fenella from WEE Companions.