Mother, Wife // President of NKPR
Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal
We’ve been longtime admirers of PR powerhouse Natasha Koifman, so it was really hard not to fangirl over her. And what’s not to admire? Natasha runs the well-known agency NKPR, angel investment company AN8, and just launched her latest project, ShopNK. After meeting with her during TIFF at the NKPR IT House x Producers Ball Gift Lounge, which she co-hosts each year with the Property Brothers, we can attest to the fact that Natasha does it all with style, grace, and clad in #NKAllBlackEverything.
Tell us how NKPR began.
I was in my 20s, working at an agency, promoting anything that came across my desk. It just didn’t feel right to me – it felt inauthentic. I decided to take a leap of faith and launch NKPR, with a mandate to only work with people, brands and causes that I’m passionate about. It was a scary decision, to go off on my own and start a business from my basement, but I worked through the fear. And fast forward to present day, NKPR is an international agency with a staff of over 35, a roster of over 40 clients, and holds a footprint in Toronto, NYC and Los Angeles.
Where would you like to see the business go in the next few years?
My business goals have always been to do great work and to give back to those who are less fortunate. What I love most about PR is that with the advances of technology and social media, we continue to get more tools in our toolbox – it keeps our industry fresh, and allows innovative ideas to flourish. One exciting project in particular is the launch of our new socially conscious e-commerce platform called ShopNK which sells limited-edition fashion, beauty and lifestyle products that align with my #NKAllBlackEverything Brand. Proceeds from each item sold will go directly to benefit local and international charities. In order to encourage the younger generation to feel more accountable with giving back, each buyer will have the opportunity to decide from the following organizations what their money will support – APJ, G(irls)20, Dog Tales, St. Felix Centre and Best Buddies. I’m really excited about this.
How did ShopNK come to fruition?
I have always really wanted to make the world a better place and inspire people to be philanthropic. You know, we don’t have to separate our consumption and our love of fashion, style and entertaining from our desire to make a positive impact on the world. ShopNK allows you to shop a curated collection of items that are all things I absolutely love. It’s style with ease, not fussiness. It’s conscious consumption without sacrificing style and aesthetics.
And the charities that you’ve selected, will they change?
We’ve had an unbelievable response to ShopNK so far, and we’re making such a great positive impact. So yes, we will be keeping charities and adding more. We want people to have the opportunity to learn more about which humanitarian causes mean the most to them.
We noticed that mentorship is actually something people can purchase from ShopNK.
Absolutely – I wanted to share my knowledge and expertise while also giving people the chance to give back to a charity that means something to them. It’s really exciting because you’ll continue to see more mentors come on board, industry experts that are all able to offer invaluable advice.
Do you have a mentor/role model?
I don’t have one particular mentor, but I am extremely fortunate that through my line of work, I have developed meaningful relationships with strong women and men who I can call to run things by. Some of these individuals include John Hunkin, former CEO of CIBC bank, Stephen Graham who was the CMO of CIBC, Carrie Kirkman who was the former President of Jones New York and then became the president of Sears, and Suzanne Boyd, Editor-in-Chief of Zoomer Magazine.
What advice have you received that really resonated with you?
Many years ago, I was attending a lunch and the keynote speaker was Shelley Broader, the former CEO of Walmart Canada. She started speaking about how she didn’t believe in work-life balance, rather she supported the concept of work-life integration and it totally clicked. I had struggled for so long with trying to separate my work-life and my home-life…and I never understood why I should. I love what I do – and I can’t, nor do I want to, just walk away from my job when I leave the office. I’m the same person at work and at home. This concept that it didn’t need to be separate really resonated with me and helped me be at peace with the integration of my work life and my home life.
So having said that, how do you carve out time for yourself while living the #worklifeintegration lifestyle?
It can be challenging, when I’m working 15-hour days, and traveling consistently to NYC and LA. But as I mentioned, my work-life and home-life are integrated, so it helps a lot – my husband will join me at client dinners and events, and I’ll host meetings at my house. But my home is my sanctuary and I make sure when I’m home that I wake up early every morning so I can have a cup of coffee, with my dog, and take a few moments of solitude to reflect upon the day.
What is your favourite part of your business and why?
Working with my team and watching them grow. I work with the hardest and smartest people in the business. I love nurturing their talent and helping them become the best they can in this industry.
I’m also proud to say that our mandate of only working with brands we connect with hasn’t changed – and to this day, we turn away as much business as we take on. It makes coming to work more exciting, when you’re passionate about the work you’re doing.
Something you mentioned earlier was #NKAllBlackEverything – tell us how that started and if we’ll ever see you in any other colours? 😉
When starting in business, I would wear colour but I never felt comfortable it. I was always drawn to an all-black uniform. When I was younger, I felt it helped ensure the focus was on what I was saying vs. what I was wearing. It just felt right, and made me feel confident. Now, it simplifies my life (it makes shopping so much easier too, when you can filter everything by one colour!), and people know what to expect from me – sometimes even before they meet me.
What would you tell yourself at 20 years old?
Have goals and achieve those goals, but be easy on yourself. They won’t happen overnight.
What are some books/podcasts/instagram accounts/etc. that are inspiring for you lately?
- Age of Union: Igniting The Changemaker
- The Artist’s Way – I took this book to heart in my 20s and still revisit it today
- I love The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
- @diet_prada – I think it’s incredible that some of the biggest news in the fashion industry is being broken by an Instagram account run by two people. It truly exemplifies how the role of social media has evolved.
- @itsjasonflom – a good friend and has a great fashion sense
- SQ1 Podcast – they have amazing guests from Jeanne Beker to Jonathan Cheban. It really has a wide range interesting topics – I feel like I learn something everytime I listen.
- Although I am a CNN junkie and it’s always on TV, when I can, I’ll listen to The Daily, the New York Times podcast, based on top stories of the day.
Favourites – places to go with your family, restaurants, places for team lunches, ways to relieve stress, beauty products, ways to stay organized.
Places to go with family:
- Pick 6ix Sports is my go-to for a big sports game – I camped out there during the NBA playoffs!
- Love to go walking in Bloor-Yorkville on the weekend. There’s something for everyone and my favourite part is that each trip usually ends in a visit to Summer’s for a scoop of the best ice cream!
- Sofia Yorkville – LOVE their pastas! I usually order one of each on the menu each time I go.
- The Civic at The Broadview Hotel
- Thompson’s Rooftop is such a fun place to people watch, especially during TIFF. Every celeb has been there, from Brad Pitt to Julianne Moore to Lebron James.
- Montecito – just across the street and they make the BEST kale salad.
- We love doing “curated potlucks” in our office – we’ll order all of our faves and eat in our boardroom – Domino’s thin-crust pizza, Le Gourmand cookies, McDonalds fries, A&W beyond burgers and Krispy Kreme donuts!
- Bubble baths – especially with Blissed’s CBD Bath Bombs.
- Writing in my gratitude journal.
- Binging Netflix/CRAVE – I’m obsessed with Succession, The Affair, The Handmaid’s Tale.
- Lise Watier’s Twist & Sharp Eye Stylo
- OGX’s Active Beauty line
- Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nail Gummies
Ways to stay organized:
- My assistant Fiona – she helps me keep track of my schedule and keeps me running on time
Tell us about your work investing in innovators.
Two years ago, my husband and I launched an angel investment company AN8. I’m in an industry where I meet so many people who have brilliant concepts, but don’t necessarily have the resources to bring their ideas to market. My husband and I are both entrepreneurs and share an entrepreneurial mindset in all of our professional endeavours. We wanted to create an opportunity to support others who share that frame of thinking. Our mission with AN8 is to invest in business’ success in a meaningful way involving funding and sharing our market expertise.
Natasha has been able to grow a successful business, live a fulfilled personal life and find meaningful ways to positively impact the world around her. She is an example of how to live authentically while seamlessly integrating work and personal life together. In short, this woman is #goals! For more information about NKPR, visit their website here. To ShopNK’s curated collection of goods and see which charities you can support, check here. If you’re an entrepreneur interested in learning more about AN8, visit the site here. And of course, if you want more interviews with entrepreneurs like Natasha straight to your inbox, sign up over here.