Krista Castellarin was born walking fast, talking fast, and thinking fast in the small town of Yakima, Washington. After she met her prince charming on Myspace.com, Krista relocated from Las Vegas to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to marry Dwayne Castellarin. As a brand new immigrant to the country with no friends, Krista thought it was the perfect time to cash out her 401k and kick off her entrepreneurial career. She realized that no dog boutique offered cashmere doggy sweaters for her freezing toy dog, and decided to create her own and named it “Fabulous Furballs.”
Being pregnant with her first child and not even knowing how to trim her own dog’s nails properly, Krista opened her first Fabulous Furballs location to rave reviews and appointments booked out 4-6 weeks in advance. Riding the rocket that was her fast growth company, Krista learned priceless lessons about corporate culture, branding, and guerilla marketing techniques. A naturally charismatic person from birth, Krista is a former cheerleader who has always enjoyed being in front of a camera. After a random casting call at a grooming conference, Krista was cast as “fabulous Krista” on Animal Planet’s “Groomer Has It Season 2“, and was sent off to Hollywood for filming.
Based on the success of “Groomer Has It Season 2”, and with a second baby on the way, Krista went into development for her own reality television show called “The Fabulous Furballs“. After her first experience as the talent, Krista insisted on an executive producer credit and began to learn the skills of an executive producer with this new project. The Fabulous Furballs was seen on the Slice network throughout Canada and gave Krista’s fast growth business even more exposure. After The Fabulous Furballs aired, Krista caught the eye of the producers at CBC’s “Dragons’ Den“, which is the Canadian version of “Shark Tank”. Dragons’ Den aired less than two weeks before Krista decided to shut the doors on Fabulous Furballs after five long years of blood, sweat, and tears.
After she shut the doors, her franchisees promised to “make her sorry” and, a long time media darling, Krista proceeded full speed ahead with confidence that moving back to the United States with her family was the best decision. Less than a month after moving back, a local reporter wrote two scathing articles about Krista that said all kinds of terrible things from everyone they could find that had ever disliked her. During that first month, Krista was in a dark place feeling like everyone hated her and she had nothing to give, but, thanks to an inspirational chat with her very first Fabulous Furballs franchisee, Krista decided to own the bullying experience she was having and called her next company “The Mean Girls.”
The Mean Girls grew from a social media marketing company into an entertainment company called “EGO: Entertainment & Growth Opportunities”, but all along, Krista has used her skills and lessons she learned throughout the Fabulous Furballs experience to help other entrepreneurs and entertainers achieve their goals without having to experience what being the victim of a real “mean girl” can feel like. An enthusiastic downtown resident, Krista can be found most days taking her two girls to school at the 9th Bridge, having lunch with her Canadian husband at eat, or attending an inspiring speaker series. The story of Krista Castellarin is an inspiring tale of success against the odds, failing forward when you realize it is all falling apart, and rebuilding to even greater heights when you find what you were truly meant to do.
This serial entrepreneur has a wealth of knowledge that startup founders and long time entrepreneurs can learn from. I was so excited to sit down with her and get some more in depth insights on what reality TV had contributed to her business experience, what she does in her current business venture, and advice for entrepreneurs that are part of tech based companies.
Interviewer: “Tell us about your experience with Reality TV?”
Krista: “I was the naive one who thought that reality was entirely real before I went to Hollywood to film “Groomer Has It Season 2”, and I had the shock of my lifetime when I met the wardrobe and story departments on the first day. I’ve always been a polarizing personality, so it didn’t surprise me when I was cast as “the bitch”. Playing a bitch on reality television was a lot of fun, but I was pregnant with my second child when the show aired, and the backlash of fans who really believed I was this crazy bitchy person was a bit too much for me. The second time around, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get cast as anything other than who I truly am, so I made sure that I was one of the executive producers with creative control over the show. “The Fabulous Furballs” is a much better picture of who I really am in real life. I’m not always sweet as pie, but I’m not bitchy just for the sake of being bitchy, either. “Dragons’ Den” was a lot of fun, because I really admired the investors who were playing dragon, so just getting the opportunity to meet them, hear them share their expertise, and receiving their candid feedback was a privilege.”
Interviewer: “I know you said for the most part reality TV is staged, but is there any truth behind the characters we see?”
Krista: “There is no truth to reality television. None at all. On “Groomer Has It Season 2” it looks like we are staying in this stunning mansion on television, but the reality is that we are living on a soundstage with cameras on us at all times. I was up until midnight to do testimonials and awake by 5 a.m. for hair and makeup. I can appreciate that reality television producers are trying to create the maximum amount of drama, but I could have gone without the exhaustion. By the fourth episode, when I was voted off the grooming show I was just thankful to be able to get a good nights sleep without cameras constantly zooming in or crew members walking around. The funny part about being cast as the bitch on “Groomer Has It Season 2” is that the winner, Huber Pineda, and I were cast as being enemies on the show, but in real life we are very good friends. Huber even came up to Canada when I had my second baby and we still speak frequently. Having been an executive producer on my own show, I worked really hard to try to tell the real stories of the day to day drama without having to embellish or exhaust my team. Reality television is a ton of work!”
Interviewer: “I am curious about where you are now. What led up to founding your company EGO: Entertainment and Growth Opportunities?”
Krista: “EGO: Entertainment & Growth Opportunities was the result of a serendipitous connection thanks to my friend, Theresa Fette. Theresa has had a great business partner for her business and went to law school with Jeremy C. Green, who became my business partner in EGO. Jeremy’s background as an entertainment and tax lawyer combined with my branding and PR background created the perfect partnership to help entertainers and entrepreneurs. Jeremy has been the perfect business partner for me and my entire team is loaded with rock stars who continue to push me to grow more as a leader every single day. I am very lucky to work with such amazingly talented people.”
Interviewer: “What does EGO specialize in and why are you so passionate about it?”
Krista: “EGO has five divisions: public relations, social media, creative consulting, film fund administration, and entertainment trust. One of our clients sums it all up by saying “EGO is the Terminator of problems”, and I tend to agree. Our PR team helps gain exposure for clients, while our social media team crafts an effective social media strategy to grow audiences. Our creative consulting team is where I have the most fun, and we are brought in for everything from a new pet product coming to market to pitching a reality television show to the major networks.
On the film fund administration and entertainment trust side, we take care of the back office management needs for entertainment projects, which allows us to work with some really talented people within the industry. I am passionate about what we do, because those 30 days after Fabulous Furballs are never far from my mind and I am driven to make sure no one has to feel that alone in their business again. I love the excitement and energy of entrepreneurs and I love being in the presence of talented entertainers that can elicit such intense emotion from the audience.”
Interviewer: “What did reality TV contribute to your knowledge of what you do today?”
Krista: “Without my reality television experience, I don’t think I could have fully appreciated how important perception is for everyone in the public eye. Perception truly is reality and once you fully understand that, you can strategize to ensure the audience is perceiving the message that you and your brand want in the marketplace. Reality television was a great training ground for me to learn about production, editing, and all of the steps that go into making great television.”
I ended the interview by asking Krista to give 5 tips she would give to tech based startup entrepreneurs to follow throughout their careers. Her 5 tips are:
1. Watch your inner circle. Whoever you spend the majority of your time with is who you will become, so be really cautious about spending all of your time with people who do not inspire, challenge, or motivate you to be better than you are today.
2. Bet on yourself and bet big. Go all in on who you are and what you are really good at without worrying what anyone else will think. If I listened to the haters during that worst month ever, I’d still be crying in my mama’s kitchen.
3. Get out of your tech bubble. Domino’s is the result of a FedEx executive who decided if you could get a package anywhere in the world in 24 hours or less, you should be able to get a pizza delivered in your neighborhood in 30min or less. You never know where inspiration for your next breakthrough will come from.
4. Do you. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you are your business and your business is you, but that type of thinking is risky. Own your own identity, because I doubt this is your best idea ever and you’ll want to have the flexibility to move onto bigger and better projects some day.
5. Give back. Just because your tech company isn’t solving world hunger doesn’t mean you can’t give back in a meaningful way. Take the time to figure out how you can donate your time or talents to a homeless shelter or teaching needy children how to code. Your soul will thank you for it.