Shanghai Service Innovators : The two E’s of Spare Leash

Hi Erin and Elsa!  Congratulations on your recent award from Time Out for Best Leisure Service of the Year! Thank you for agreeing to let us interview you.


Tell us a bit about yourselves and what brought you to Shanghai?

Erin: My name is Erin, I’m from Michigan and am going on my fifth year here in Shanghai and I came this way right after graduating  from college as my mother was living over here while working for General Motors. I am an avid rescuer here in Shanghai for both cats and dogs and currently live with three Shanghai rescues.

Elsa: My name is Elsa and I grew up surrounded by animals in the country near Gothenburg, Sweden. I moved to Shanghai four years ago as an Au Pair and to study Chinese. After the first year,  I loved Shanghai and ended up doing my whole bachelor degree here within three years. I graduated this year in June, the same time Erin and I launched Spare Leash! It was a hectic, but fun time!


What is spare leash and how did it get started?

Spare Leash is a pet-sitting platform that connects pet owners to experienced pet sitters in Shanghai. We are a safe, cage free service that gives pet owners a peace of mind while travelling as the animal gets to stay safely in his or her home or one of our sitters homes.

It all started with Elsa wanting a pet, but after doing some research, if she wanted to go and travel she quickly found out that leaving the animal in a cage was her only option. She was looking for someone who had animal experience and had some more background knowledge about the pet community here in Shanghai.  Elsa and I had met through mutual friends a couple years ago.  We had a lunch date that quickly turned into a business meeting and Spare Leash was born.


What’s the benefit to pet owners in Shanghai?

The biggest benefit to pet owners is the tailored experience and of course our sitters. One of the biggest misconceptions people have about Spare Leash is that we are a huge company and we have a secretary answering phones for us. Everyday when a booking is made on a Spare Leash channel (wechat, e-mail or website) Elsa & I are the ones reading the request and matching the perfect sitter for that specific animal.

As for our sitters we make everyone apply with a Spare Sitter Form so we can get a feel for his or her experience. Then we have an interview process in person to make sure everything checks out and that they understand all of our services. It’s super important to us that we know everyone on our team.



With Christmas coming up and a lot of people heading away on holiday how do you cope with demand?

With over 120 sitters and a growing client database it can be a lot, but with the help of our amazing team we take things day by day.

In Shanghai a lot of entrepreneurs start businesses, what advice would you give to other foreign women wishing to do the same in Shanghai?

 ACT. A lot of people have great ideas but it takes a certain person to really act on it, and do something about it. Shanghai has tons of up’s & down’s (we call them ShangHIGHs & ShangLOWS) when it comes to opening a company. It’s a hard process so patience is key but if you stick with it, piece-by-piece everything will start falling into place. 


Finally, we ask all our interviewees. What are your top tips for living in Shanghai and do you have any hidden gems you would like to share with our readers? 

This is a hard one! We would say always look both ways ..twice, China Art Museum is free and a must see, Project Wine has the best happy hour as it goes until 10PM!

To use Spare Leash services or even become a sitter, you can contact Elsa and Erin via their website 


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