When I first moved to New York my building did not allow pets and I was missing animal interaction, so I started volunteering with a cat rescue group once a week. A year later I moved into a new apartment and brought my 14-year-old cat from home up to live out her retirement in NYC. Sadly, one year later she passed away from heart failure and I was devastated. One evening about three months later I was volunteering and towards the end of my shift I saw these yellow eyes peering out at me from a top cage. I have always been partial to black cats; to me they are so special and often overlooked. Without even meeting her, I spoke to one of the adoption representatives and told them I was interested in adopting her. Something in her eyes told me we were just meant to be. I went home that night and discussed it with my roommates and the next day I went back to proceed with the adoption process.A few days later I got the call that I had been approved. When I met Pinky’s rescuer she told me the little she knew about her past. She was estimated to be about a year and half and had been left behind in the apartment when her former family moved out. The landlord found her two weeks later and she was taken to the city shelter where she eventually ended up on the euthanasia list. Pinky’s rescuer pulled her and fostered her until she was ready to move into the adoption center. It broke my heart when I heard what she had been through and promised to spoil her for the rest of her life.A little over a year after adopting Pinky I met my future husband. When we first started dating he refused to stay at my place after experiencing her 3am zoomies. She would run across the bed using him as a springboard keeping him up all night. My husband did not grow up with cats so this behavior was very new to him but as time went on they became friends. Pinky keeps to a very tight feeding schedule (set by her) and lets you know when it’s time. I work from home and she will be jumping on the desk trying to walk on the computer and I realize like clockwork its 5:14pm at 5:15pm the meows begin. Pinky is also mischievous if we aren’t paying her enough attention. She loves to chew and eat things around the apartment especially receipts and rubber bands so we have to be super diligent about throwing things away. Both are very dangerous, and she ended up spending 24 hours in the emergency hospital after eating ¾ of a broccoli rubber band she found when we were moving. I was so scared for her and could barely sleep. Luckily everything came out ok. We have a little routine at night, once the light goes out she does little circles until I make the perfect spot for her to fit in next to me. She doesn’t like to be held but likes to be spooned. Her purrs are so soothing and put me right to sleep. She’s a funny girl and brings so much joy to our life.My entire life I have loved two things: fashion and animals. After graduating from college, I made my way to NYC and spent eight years working in the fashion industry. Four years ago, I decided to step away from the fashion industry to follow my passion for animal welfare. I worked at a kitten nursery for two seasons and it was without a doubt the most fulfilling yet emotionally draining job I ever had. After the second season, I found myself suffering from compassion fatigue and decided to take a break. This was the point at which I knew I wanted to do something for the greater good. More specifically I wanted to get at the root of the problem and help prevent kittens from being born on the street in the first place. Simultaneously I realized my everyday wardrobe was full of dressy clothes from my fashion days, workout clothes or nursery scrubs. I tried to find comfortable clothes that I could wear all day yet look presentable. Surprisingly, there weren’t many options. My husband one day jokingly said I should make my own. That was my Eureka moment! Furthermore, I knew if I could successfully create clothing that people enjoyed wearing I would be able to give back to the animal welfare community which I so deeply loved. My brand MARTINE. G was born out of necessity and love. This company provides me an avenue to raise awareness, give back and hopefully inspire others. MARTINE. G donates ten percent of all sales to support Trap-Neuter-Return and rescue efforts for community cats.
Courtney Portell is founder and creative director of Martine. G