A love of dogs and inspirational parents have motivated Nicole Kow.
What’s your story?
I’m the founder of Paws of Kow, a luxury customised handcrafted pet accessories brand and the Marketing Manager for Nic & Wes Builders. Paws of Kow focuses on customised and modular ranges of Biothane collars and leashes that allow pawrents to collect, add and swap pieces to create unique combinations that identify with their pawby’s style. Nic & Wes Builders is a local design-and-build company specialising in creating bespoke lifestyle homes with a forte in the private landed residential sector. I started in the marketing department but have since expanded my role to shadow my father, from observing to refining the company processes.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about my industry is the opportunity to work on both of my businesses. I am grateful for this chance to explore and grow my skills while appreciating it as a unique opportunity in my life. As someone who enjoys creativity, I love cultivating various skill sets, including writing, photography, editing, sewing, pattern drafting, illustrating, and crafting pet gear. This industry allows me to nurture my creativity while gaining new knowledge and experiences. It’s fulfilling to see the growth of my businesses, and I’m excited to continue my journey in this industry.
What drives you in your career to push beyond what other people consider normal?
When considering starting a business venture, it’s crucial to consider whether you can prioritise it. I remember being at a crossroads, and my dad’s advice was clear: go for it. Running a business takes time, money, and effort, but the rewards can be priceless. Having a solid support system to remind you why you embarked on the journey can help during moments of doubt. Nic & Wes has been a foundational training ground and sparked an entrepreneurial spirit within me. Paws of Kow merges my love for pets with creating and sharing my work within the pet community.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
My previous experience in the editorial industry has given me valuable insights into the workings of publications, including writing, styling, and directing photoshoots. This proved beneficial when creating the Nic & Wes In A Decade coffee table book, where I also developed my architectural photography skills. These skills are helpful during my product shoots for Paws of Kow, enabling me to avoid relying on third-party photographers. I am confident in my diverse skill set, which allows me to undertake multiple roles effortlessly. With creativity at the core of who I am, switching between different mediums has become second nature to me.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Try, if it doesn’t work, change course. If you have the opportunity and a little voice is encouraging you to give it a go, it will be a shame to look back one day and say I should have. Not everything will work out, but what if it does, and you won’t know unless you give it a shot.
Who inspires you?
At the top of my list of role models are my parents, who have successfully built and sustained their business with honesty, integrity, and an innovative approach. Growing up, I witnessed their ups and downs in the entrepreneurial sphere, inspiring me to follow in their footsteps. Creatively, Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld have also influenced me with their contributions to the House of Chanel. Chanel’s sewing skills challenged fashion norms, while Lagerfeld elevated the brand through his multifaceted creativity in fashion, photography, and interior design. Both remained true to themselves and challenged the status quo.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
How the dynamics of the individuals in a team can make or break the success of a project. And this goes beyond skill capabilities which play a part, but the overlooked ingredient boils down to moral and work ethics. You can put a group of highly skilled people together but if they are only looking out for themselves, the lack of cooperation does not work towards the efficacy and productivity of the project at hand and can easily be its undoing. A balance of knowledge, skill and collaboration is usually what it takes to complete a project efficiently and effectively.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I can’t say that I would do things differently. Each step has been a constant life lesson and/or realisation. It is true that life is a journey, not the destination. In my twenties, I never really understood that. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learnt to appreciate the intricacies of learning who you are and crafting your identity, what you stand for, your goals, defining your definition of happiness, developing different skill sets etc. All these things make you who you are is a compounding effect that needs nurturing.
How do you unwind?
There is no better way to unwind than to go out with my dogs and family. The inside joke is that – we are Kows (cows), we move in herds. When I take my dogs for walks or a drive, they revel in it. It’s interesting to see life in their eyes. They are grateful for the simplest of things that, as humans, we take for granted, like just being happy that your loved ones are back home, Living in the present and enjoying the moment, even if it’s just taking a break. I believe we can learn a lot from dogs.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your career?
My experience of different working cultures has shown me the unique environment at Nic & Wes, which is not solely due to it being a family business.The established work culture is maintained by a loyal team, some of which have been with the company for over a decade. This family-centric environment is a result of the leadership tone set by my parents, as well as the team’s dedication. Throughout the company’s twenty years, few staff members have left and still keep in contact, demonstrating true loyalty. When management and staff work together, it benefits everyone, resulting in a win-win situation.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Two recommended books for entrepreneurs are “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, which uncovers variables and characteristics that have led companies to breakthroughs and long-term success in their industries, and “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, which guides entrepreneurs to see their business model from a different perspective. The book introduces the blue ocean strategy, which focuses on creating a new, uncontested path in the market space, rather than competing with rivals in the red ocean. This approach can shift processes, create higher competition irrelevance, and lead to success.
Shameless plug for your business:
Paws Of Kow celebrates the special bond between pawby and pawrent. Each piece is handcrafted to reflect the personality and style of your pawby with a touch of Paws Of Kow’s artful design. With an array of interchangeable pieces and one-of-a-kind design options, create unique pet accessories ranging from collars, leashes and fabric wearables.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
Instagram l @pawsofkowatelier:
Facebook l @Paws of Kow Atelier:
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.