Influencing Fur Good!

Meet Hannah Shaw, an influencer fur good!

Hannah is a kitten advocate and rescuer, a humane educator, YouTuber, and a New York Times bestselling author. Known fondly as “The Kitten Lady,” her website and books are a resource for kitten rescuers around the world, providing educational media and training resources for topics such as fostering, determining age and sex, bottle feeding, health issues, weaning kittens, and adoption.

Photo credit Hannah Shaw

Hannah has 1.5 million subscribers on her YouTube channel, 970,000 followers on her Facebook page, and 1.2 million followers on her Instagram page. She has a particular interest in neonate kittens, feral cats and TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs, as well as farm animal rescue. It should come as no surprise that she is vegan as well. She also enjoys traveling the world with her photographer partner, Andrew, of “I Am the Cat Photographer” fame. On their trips abroad they document the lives of feral and community cats, and highlight the work of kitten- and cat-related rescues and programs in many countries.

But you don’t have to foster adorable kittens to enjoy Hannah’s content! She is keen to educate the public about feral cats and their particular needs, as well as the importance of TNR programs to control feral cat populations and improve the health and wellbeing of these cats. Due to Hannah’s influence and my involvement with a local feral cat rescue, I have adopted three (formerly feral) cats and now maintain my own feral cat colony on my rural property, providing daily feeding and winter shelter for four feral cats plus occasional visitors.

Kitten Lady has many educational videos on her YouTube channel, including this one “Why are some cats FERAL?”

Over the last few years, the Kitten Lady has also written several books, such as Tiny But Mighty (cover shown below, published by Penguin Random House in 2019), Kitten Lady’s Big Book of Little Kittens (Simon and Schuster, 2019), and the Adventures in Fosterland children’s chapter book series (also Simon and Schuster).

Photo credit Hannah Shaw

As if that weren’t enough, Hannah founded a charitable organization, the Orphan Kitten Club, which provides lifesaving programs including a neonatal kitten nursery, a TNR program, and the world’s first grant program specifically funding innovation in kitten welfare (such as treating rare and difficult medical conditions). Since its’ founding in 2019, the Orphan Kitten Club has “provided more than $1 million in funding to shelters and rescues to further the cause of neonatal kitten welfare.”

Photo by Pixabay on

While Hannah’s work is truly impressive and inspiring, it’s okay to follow her social media simply to enjoy all the cute kittens and cats (and pigs and goats!) that she fosters!

Are you a #kittenlover? Have you heard of the Kitten Lady? Are you aware of any feral cat colonies in your neighbourhood?

Facebook: Still Powerful, not Passé!

(Or, Why You Shouldn’t Discount the OG Social Media Site)

Photo by Pixabay on

There’s a tendency to discount Facebook, one of the earliest social media platforms, for being used primarily by oldsters, but to do so is to miss a great opportunity to promote your business or find a community, especially within Facebook groups. We’ll get back to the groups in a moment, but first some surprising stats about Facebook.

Although the growth rate of Facebook has slowed considerably over recent years, as of January 2023 it was still the top ranked social media platform in the world, with just under 3 billion (yes, that’s BILLION) users. Facebook has 500 million more users than it’s closest competitor, YouTube, one billion more users than Instagram, and two billion more users than Tiktok, although admittedly Tiktok is growing rapidly (18.3% growth in 2021, compared to 0.8% for Facebook).

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on

Facebook’s demographics are still surprisingly young, with the largest demographic group on the platform (19.3%) being males aged 25-34. The largest demographic group of women on the platform (13.1%) is also those aged 25-34.

According to a recent Pew Research survey on news consumption across social media, currently 66% of adult Americans use Facebook, and 31% of adult Americans get their news on the site, which makes Facebook the top ranked social media site for news.

Photo by Tobias Dziuba on

Beyond news, what’s the appeal of Facebook?

It could be the addictive add-ons, such as Messenger, Marketplace, and reels, but Facebook groups are a highly attractive feature of the platform, and hold the most promise for businesses looking to engage with customers.

This video by Hubspot gives great insights into the usefulness of Facebook groups, but if you don’t have two minutes to watch it, consider these key takeaways: more than 400 million people belong to at least one Facebook group, and 100 million users see Facebook groups as the most important part of their Facebook experience (myself included). Also important to note is that Facebook algorithms favour content from groups.

But probably the most appealing thing about Facebook groups is their ability to create a sense of community amongst users. There are 10 million groups on Facebook, so it’s safe to say that there is something for everyone!

Like to cook with your Instant Pot? There’s a group for that with 3.2 million members!

Enjoy riding your Peloton? You can join 482,000 other fanatics on the Official Peloton Member group.

Considering a divorce? Join Should I Stay or Should I Go? with Kate Anthony to receive support and experience growth with 12,000 other female members.

Are you a member of any Facebook groups? If so, which are your favourites? Please share in the comments!

Facebook: Did you know there are over 10 million groups on Facebook? Check out my newest blog post about why FB is still such a powerful platform (hint: it’s about community building!). Share your favourite FB group and why you like it so much!

Twitter: Psst! Don’t tell Elon, but Facebook is still #1! Check out my new blog post about the enduring power of FB – tell me your fave FB group & why! #buildingcommunity

Turning Your House Into A Home: YouTuber Alexandra Gater

Who is Alexandra Gater?

Alexandra Gater is a Canadian interior designer YouTuber who transforms *mostly* rental spaces in Toronto in a variety of styles, or as she describes it “making houses feel like homey homes“. Originally created for a millennial audience with a focus on small rental spaces, such as studio apartments, she has diversified her approach in the recent past to also include house and commercial space projects. Her team, known as Team AG, includes handyman Graham, videographer Carla, creative producer Alana, Chief Operating Officer Amanda, junior editor Alessandra, and video editor James. All team members make regular appearances in her videos, and most have been the recipient of one of Alexandra’s apartment transformations on the channel. Prior to her YouTube career, Alexandra worked at her dream job as a home editor with Canadian women’s magazine Chatelaine. It was there that she began her online career, creating and starring in the successful but short-lived YouTube series The Home Primp.

Alexandra Gater with her adorable cat Lottie / Credit: Carmen Cheung for Chatelaine

A Career Pivot

Just as her online career was taking off with Chatelaine, she and her videographer (Carla Antonio, who still works with her) lost their jobs through downsizing. Alexandra explains how she took the loss of her job and turned it into an entrepreneurial success story in this TedX talk. Besides her YouTube videos, Alexandra has had her design work featured in Apartment Therapy and Architectural Digest, and makes regular television appearances on Cityline and the Global Morning Show.

Team AG headquarters/ Credit: Lauren Kolyn Studio – Instagram

What’s so great about Alexandra?

I most appreciate Alexandra and her team’s sense of humour! This YouTube short (below) is one of many examples of their regular high jinks on camera and Alexandra’s engaging and casual style. She is not afraid to get dirty, show the trial and error that can be DIY, and to talk about her growth as a designer when she looks back at earlier projects.

Credit: Alexandra Gater on YouTube

I also find her design projects to be accessible and affordable – occasionally she may use a more expensive item in a project but the overall budget is reasonable if you were to try to recreate the look, and most of the items are available in Canada. All of the home transformations are gifted to the recipient as Alexandra has partnerships with many companies, such as Article and Mitzi Lighting. At the end of each episode is a “reveal”, where she surprises the homeowner/renter with the finished product and we get to see their reaction.

Alexandra Gater’s former living room/ Credit:

Finally, I love that Alexandra has a really eclectic design aesthetic: she can design anything from light and airy to dark and moody spaces, and from mid century modern to cottage core, and likes to use other designers as inspiration to create similar, but more affordable, looks. The projects that I most enjoy though are when she designs her own home as I really like her use of colour and texture, and her insertions of pompoms, plants, and Moroccan baskets and textiles. She has inspired me to break out of my greige rut of recent years and add more colour and even *gasp* wallpaper to my own home.

My front hall transformation, including DIY bench and wainscoting, inspired in part by Alexandra Gater/ Credit: Rachel Lang

Do you have a favourite interior designer? Where do you get your interior design inspiration from? How would you describe your design style? I’d love to hear about your design inspiration – comment below!

Social Media posts:

Twitter: In today’s blog post I dish about #styleinspo from Canada’s interior design sweetheart @AlexandraGater. #TeamAG

Facebook: Do you have a favourite interior designer? Today I share my current fave for eclectic design inspo! Hint: she’s Canadian and she loves pompoms and cats! #IloveLottie

The Top 3 Reasons why you need to get the Goodreads app NOW!

So many books to read, so little time!/ Photo credit: Goodreads

A return to reading

Spring 2020. During the first months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the screen time tracker on my iPhone delivered the bad news. I was, on my worst days, spending as many as 11 hours per day on my iPhone. My weekly average was only slightly less than this. Mindlessly scrolling through social media apps, doom scrolling through the news reports, my mental health began to suffer. While this was a shocking amount of time to spend on my phone, it was a habit that had been steadily worsening, even prior to the pandemic. Of course, I wasn’t alone and this was hardly a new problem as this article on social media addiction outlines (more on this in my next blog post). Something had to give.

The black hole aka so many apps/ Photo credit: Pixabay (Pexels)

After some reflection, I made a conscious choice to spend more time on hobbies that would improve my mental health and decided to read more books, something I had always enjoyed doing but hadn’t done nearly enough of in recent years. And to think I was a former school librarian – it was shameful, really! I didn’t know which books I should read, or who the new up-and-coming authors were. Enter Goodreads! Yes, there truly is an app for everything, including reading. What is Goodreads, you ask? It’s an app (there is also a web-based version) that allows you to search for books, rate them, read reviews, create your own “Want to Read” bookshelf, and so much more. Launched in 2007, it’s now owned by Amazon.

Imaginary me, reading in my imaginary library/ Photo credit: Jonathan Borba (Pexels)

Here are the top three reasons why YOU should download the Goodreads app today:

  1. It’s highly motivating! One of the best motivators is the annual Reading Challenge. In my first year using Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 24 books over the course of the year, or approximately two per month. As you begin a new book, you change the status of the book from “Want to read” to “Reading” and can track your progress through the book. The app shows your progress as a percentage and the bar fills in as you get further into your book – such a satisfying visual! Once you finish the book, you mark it as “Read” and it’s added towards your yearly book count. While I didn’t reach my goal last year, I did read 16 books which was 15 more books than the previous year, so that’s a win! And for those highly competitive types, you can get additional motivation by joining reading challenges with friends who are also on the app.
  2. It helps you curate great books! You can search for books and add them to your “want to read” bookshelf, or you can simply scan a book cover while at the bookstore or a friend’s house and add that book to your list. You can create additional bookshelves, like my “On the Nightstand” collection of books that I want to read next. You can sort your bookshelves in a variety of ways, such as date added or average rating. And there are so many great recommendations for new books to read with the handy “Top Picks for You” where the app makes suggestions for books you might like based on your reading preferences. Alternatively, you can search for books by genre, like non-fiction, romance, or historical fiction.
  3. Connecting with a community of book lovers! There are *literally* thousands of book groups in Goodreads, from the super popular Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine and Booktok, to obscure fan lit groups. Within these groups, community members chat about book recommendations, the best places to buy books, create virtual book clubs, and basically anything remotely book related (Should I buy a Kindle? Who wants to be Goodreads friends?). Or, you can connect with your IRL friends and see what they’re reading. It’s not hard to find your niche here, if you so desire, which is why Goodreads is considered a social reading service.

I’d love to hear about your reading habits! Do you love to read? Do YOU use a reading app, and if so, which one? Do you set challenges for yourself to read a certain number of books? Comment below so we can chat about reading!

Social Media Posts

Twitter: Love to read? Then @goodreads is your friend! Check out my 3 top reasons why you need to get this app – STAT! (link to blog post) Do you use an app for #reading? #booklovers

Facebook: Hey fellow book lovers! Check out my latest blog post “The Top 3 Reasons why you need to get the Goodreads app NOW!” and let me know what you think! (link to blog post)