Austin, Texas is lucky to have Alumna Sarah Smith (BBA’07), and so are a lot of jet-setting pets! Sarah and her business partner created Pets with Passports; she credits her education from Haworth College of Business for setting the foundation for success as an entrepreneur. Check out Sarah’s story below!
Alumni: Sarah Smith (BBA’07, Management)
Profession: Co-Owner, Pets With Passports
Tell us about yourself.
My family is made up of Broncos, and I grew up in Kalamazoo. So naturally, I chose to attend WMU! I moved to Texas in 2008, and I've been here ever since because TACOS and warm weather! I live here with my Irish Doodle, Reba, and own a business called Pets with Passports with my best friend. We ship live animals (mostly pets) all over the world for people who are moving for work, retirement, fun, military, etc. I get to spend my days talking with people about their beloved pets or driving pets to and from the airport and getting them all checked in or cleared through customs. It's the best job in the world and provokes many questions from friends and family about the kinds of animals we've shipped. Strangest animal we've shipped: 12 baby Frilled Dragons from Houston to a zoo in Dubai. Cutest pet name: tortoise named Voldetort. Most expensive country to move a pet to: Australia
How did WMU help you get where you are?
I remember my BUS 175 class in the largest lecture hall on campus. It was intimidating to say the least. As a group project, we were required to create a full business plan, based on a fictional (but realistic) business that the group chose. If I remember correctly, the professor chose the groups for us - always terrifying for a college course. This was in 2001 and my group chose to do our business plan centered around a cyber café (this idea is laughable now but come on, none of us even had cell phones then). I don't remember how long our business plan ended up being, but I do remember we received an excellent score and that our professor used our business plan for several semesters to come as an example of what it should look like. Little did I know that about 15 years later, I would be writing my own, REAL LIFE, business plan for Pets with Passports with my co-owner, Elaine. It is unbelievable, the amount of times I could have quit; unbelievable the amount of times we felt like we had no clue what we were doing. But we always turned back to our business plan that we put together with the help of a great mentor here in Austin. We never ended up "needing" this business plan in the general sense of the term; no banks asked for it (we couldn't get a loan to save our lives); no credit card companies needed it; our accountant didn't care. But WE needed it; we survived off of it. And I truly would not have known where to start, had it not been for a little cyber café, started by a group of five students in a BUS 175 class at Western Michigan University.
My core Business classes and Management classes gave me the foundational tools that I would need later in life to start my own company. It turns out it takes a LOT more than money and a great idea. Ya'll, it's like these professors know what they're talking about- listen to them!! It was like that moment in every kid's life where you think "when am I ever going to use this information" had caught up with me and it was all making sense. THIS is what I went to school for. A big thank you to the Haworth College of Business for setting me up for success and giving me the knowledge needed to work for myself, support myself and thrive.
Tell us something unique about yourself.
I have shipped pets for celebrities and U.S. diplomats, including ambassadors.
What is your favorite campus memory?
I think my favorite campus memories were always that first REAL warm day of spring, when everyone is sick of the winter, sick of the ice scrapers, and it's nice enough outside to be wearing shorts and t-shirts. Everyone used to flock outside with blankets to the lawns surrounding Goldsworth Pond with their textbooks, a football, radios, and students would just be gathered together, enjoying the warm spring air, laughing and having fun. It felt like we were all part of one big family reunion and honestly, that's how most of my time at Western felt, like one big Bronco family.
We are collecting stories as part of our 'Broncos in Every State' project. We’re looking for a Bronco alumnus or alumna from each state to feature on the WMU Alumni Association website and social media channels. If you or someone you know is a dedicated Bronco doing great things in your region and you would like to tell your story (or nominate an awesome alum) we would love to hear from you! Share your story here.