Fifteen years ago, Natasha Koifman was working for another public relations firm when she had an epiphany. If she was making millions of dollars toward someone else’s company, then imagine what she could do for her own company, and with brands she handpicked and felt passion about? From there, NKPR was born. An International public relations, marketing, digital media, and artist management agency with offices in New York, and Toronto- Natasha is always on the go. She lives between the two cities having apartments (and wardrobes) in both! With that being said, aside from being a total boss babe, Natasha is also known for her unique all black designer wardrobe, which she’s credited some of her success too. “There’s a sense of consistency in donning all black – I’ve been wearing it for so long that people know what to expect and feel more comfortable when they meet me.” Read below as Natasha sheds light on what it really takes to start your own company and to Make it in Manhattan (and Toranto, of course!).
Growing up, did you always have an interest in the fashion industry?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always cared about and appreciated fashion in some capacity. I think of fashion, as art and I love that it has the ability to make you feel.
What was your first job out of college, and how did it impact your career?
My first job out of college was working at a contemporary retail store called Mendocino. I absolutely loved it! I often think if I weren’t in PR, I’d be working in fashion retail – I loved helping customers, styling them and being surrounded by beautiful clothes all day. The job taught me how to deal with challenging personalities/situations – always with kindness. Funny enough, over a decade later, Mendocino became one of our clients at NKPR!
What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when starting your career?
At the start of my career, I often put so much pressure on myself to know everything about the industry right away. Your twenties are for learning, growing and making mistakes, and I often think back and wish I was a little more patient with myself.
What did you wear to your first interview?
I honestly don’t remember, but chances are I probably wore pants. I have always felt my most powerful and confident in a pair of trousers. That, and I likely wore black.
You are known for your all black designer wardrobe, when did you start wearing all black and how do you feel this has attributed to your success?
When I entered the business world, the trend for women was pastels. I tried to wear them, but it never felt right. When I started wearing all black, I found that people took me more seriously at my job.
There’s a sense of consistency in donning all black – I’ve been wearing it for so long that people know what to expect and feel more comfortable when they meet me. When I’m in a meeting or pitching new NKPR business, there are no brightly coloured distractions – it’s not about what I’m wearing, rather what I’m saying.
What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from Shelley Broader, the CEO of Wal-Mart Canada. I was at a conference and she introduced a new concept to me - work-life integration. It totally clicked. I love my job – I don’t feel the need for a separate “work me” and “life me”. I’m the same person and I bring the same set of values to my work and my personal life. This framework has helped me successfully integrate my work and life, and is exactly why I am more at peace and accepting of my life today.
What inspired you to begin NKPR and what did it really take to launch your own company?
I was working in PR at a job where I had to promote anything and everything that came across my desk. I had brought in over a million dollars of business for the company, and my boss at the time told me that this still wasn’t good enough. I thought to myself, if I can achieve this kind of success for a company that doesn’t appreciate me, where I had no control over the types of brands I was working on, imagine what I could do if I had the opportunity to pick and choose the brands and organizations I worked with? From there NKPR was born.
The other guiding factor for NKPR was my son, Justin. I had him when I was quite young, and even when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be or do, I knew that I needed to be someone he was proud of. Every decision I’ve made, whether conscious or subconscious, has been based on that. He acted as my compass.
As a woman on the go, what is one item you never leave home without?
My iPhone! Part of being in the communications industry is being connected 24/7. From emailing clients, reading the news or engaging on social media, my phone is always nearby.
What are your three go-to beauty items?
My NuFACE Trinity– I start my day using this microcurrent device. It tones and sculpts your face in just 5 minutes! It’s like fitness for your face…and it gives you cheekbones you didn’t know you had ;)
Saje Peppermint Halo– it’s a roll-on that fits in your purse and soothes headaches instantly. It’s amazing!
By Terry Baume de Rose- I have one jar in every single one of my purses – I love the scent.
What advice would you give to young women hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Be kind, and have a great attitude! In the workforce, I always say that you can teach someone new skills, but you can’t teach a positive, can-do approach. You might be perfect on paper, but if you don’t express your warmth, as that comes from within, I question how you will express kindness to your teammates. I’d also stress that hard work pays off. It might not be immediate, but your company will notice and you will be rewarded for your dedication and value.
You live between Canada and New York, traveling back and forth several times a month, how does that affect your wardrobe and how do you pack accordingly for the constant traveling?
Having a home base (and closet!) in both cities definitely helps. Often what I will do is buy multiple pairs of something I like. For example, I bought three pairs of the same black Alaia heels that I love, that way I can keep a pair in Toronto and NYC…and a pair as backup ;)
For packing and traveling, one of my favorite brands is Sympli. Their pieces don’t wrinkle, which is great for business trips and the constant back and forth.
Is there any saying or mantra that you live by?
The tagline for my company is, “Don’t Just Talk, Say Something,” and I find that although I developed this mantra 15 years ago when I started NKPR, it means more today that it ever has. In the age of social media and constant communication, we’re subject to so much “filler”. I truly believe that your words should have meaning and impact others in a positive way.
Follow us on Instagram @MakingManhattanOfficial