In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Nicole Kow (Paws of Kow)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/ brand about?
My name is Nicole Kow, and I’m a creative dabbler. I founded Paws of Kow, a luxury customized handcrafted pet accessories brand that merges functional pieces with artful design, and I am the Marketing Manager for Nic & Wes Builders Pte Ltd, a local design and build company.
Being a Paw Momma to two vivacious poodles, Tobi and Coco, they naturally serve as my muses. At a time when I couldn’t find pet accessories that reflected their styles, I self-taught myself and began designing and creating pet accessories that slowly developed into a business. As someone who enjoys crafting and creating things, it was exciting to share my creations with fellow pawrents in the pet space.
Our focus has since shifted to include custom made-to-order collars and leashes using a versatile webbing called Biothane. Biothane is a USA-made brand of PVC-coated nylon webbing that is waterproof, stink-proof, easy to clean, and available in various colours. I came across this material in 2018 and purchased a couple of rolls to make a collar and leash set for my dogs from scratch. After testing its durability for a year, I became a fan and decided to introduce this into our e-shop. It was essential for me to create a range that was unique to our brand. Biothane handmade creators then were growing in the USA and still in the infant stages in Singapore.
I began by relooking at a pet staple – the collar. I wanted to make it more than just a collar but something that could evolve and change to suit your pet’s style for the day. So I designed our collars to have interchangeable strap keeper loops that customers could purchase a la carte to swap and/or stack onto their pet’s Paws Of Kow classic collar. This small detail allows pet owners to have fun changing the look of a staple accessory that most pets wear daily. It has since expanded into an array of interchangeable options ranging from various collar accessories to modular leash pieces so that they can build collections that reflect their pet’s style or even their own.
At Paws Of Kow, pet owners can create Paw Walking gear that reflects their pet’s style right from the beginning, choosing from colours, exclusive patterns, and name personalization options.
But there is more to Paws Of Kow than just pet accessories; it is a brand that celebrates the bond between a pet and its human through creativity and style.
What got you started on your business?
My two poodles, Coco and Tobi, came into my life toward the end of 2017. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking of starting a business. However, I wanted to give them distinct styles suited to their personalities.
I discovered that Coco wasn’t a fan of clothing; however, she didn’t mind wearing neck accessories like a collar and/or bandana, so I began dabbling in pattern drafting and sewing, which were self-taught.
If I have a creation in mind, I like to experiment and see if I can make it. I began creating bandanas and tasseled collar sleeves, which I could slide onto their collars to give them a different look. It was a way of dressing them up without feeling restricted or uncomfortable.
In 2018, Chinese New Year was approaching, and I wanted to make them something to wear that represented the occasion, and that was when I created my first version of the pet Mandarin Collar. My family gave me positive feedback, and they encouraged me to sell them. I posted it on Carousell and my dogs’ Instagram and was surprised to get such a positive response on the collection.
I thought to myself to test this out as a passion project first and see if it’s worth turning into a business. I worked on releasing small made-to-order collections, usually during special occasions, and took some custom orders initially. Our Mandarin Collars would be the piece that started it and has evolved through the years, with our Barktik Mandarin Collar Collection being a crowd favourite.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
Before starting Paws of Kow, I worked and am still working in the Marketing Department for a local design and build company, Nic & Wes Builders Pte Ltd. My parents, Brian and Jude Kow, founded this family-owned business and specialized in creating bespoke lifestyle homes with a forte in the private landed residential sector.
I am fortunate to be able to work on both businesses. It is an opportunity I have in my life that I’m very appreciative of and want to take on as a chance to explore and grow. As someone who enjoys creativity, it’s nice to be able to work on cultivating various skill sets, including writing, photography, and editing, aside from sewing, pattern drafting, illustrating, and pet gear crafting.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Facing obstacles along the way is part and parcel of entrepreneurship. I met a growing saturation of competitors who offer similar products and sometimes even replicate pieces that much time was spent creating.
While it can be disheartening, it’s about focusing on the main aim, serving the clientele that appreciates my work and service. It challenged me to relook at my current products to see how I could evolve the design process, and now Paws Of Kow does not just offer the standard options of Biothane straps, but we also produce exclusive patterned designs that make our suite of leashes, collars, and accessories uniquely ours.
In addition, clients can also come to us with a pattern created for them, and we can fuse it with our straps to create truly one-of-a-kind leashes and collars.
What excites you most about your industry?
There is so much potential. I would love to explore more avenues because there is so much that still needs to be done and can be done in the pet space. Sometimes, it’s just getting the right like-minded people together to get it going.
What is your vision / personal motto?
My personal motto is just do you. I think everyone is seeking happiness, purpose, and fulfillment. There are different paths to that goal. Your definition doesn’t have to be the same as the next person, and that is okay.
Keep exploring, keep learning, and keep adjusting.
Do you have any words of advice for other ladies who are starting their businesses/ starting to pursue their dream?
If you have a yearning to give a business venture a try, reflect on whether it can be a priority in your life. If it can be, go for it. When I was at that crossroads, my dad said to go for it; if it doesn’t work, change your path. But you will not know until you give it a shot.
Working on a business takes time, money, and a lot of effort. It can be both challenging and rewarding. But either way, you will have the gift of experience, which is priceless going forward.
Having a good support system who will pick you up when you doubt yourself and keep reminding yourself of the reason why you wanted to embark on this journey in the first place.
For me, Paws Of Kow allows me to merge my love for pets with my passion for creating and sharing my creations with people in the pet community. If something I made plays even a minor part in celebrating the bond between a pawrent and a pawby through the stories my customers share with me, it makes it all worth it.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
It’s okay not to feel confident or empowered all the time. We are human, but it is helpful to spend time with ourselves to get to know us better.
Sometimes we can get caught up trying to be a version of ourselves we want the world to see, but learning to love the real you, flaws and all, and even owning your quirkiness can be empowering.
Spending time alone every now and then, doing and/or learning things that are of interest to you, contributes to understanding and building your authentic self, and that builds confidence; when you have a better understanding of your identity.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I am grateful for my family. I’m lucky to have a close-knit family that has been my pillar of support and the bond continues to get stronger as time goes by.
Let us know more about what you do!
Paws Of Kow celebrates the special bond between a pawby and their pawrent. Each piece is handcrafted to reflect the personality and style of your pawby. With an array of interchangeable pieces and one-of-a-kind design options, create unique pet accessories ranging from collars, leashes, and fabric wearables.
You may also find us featured on British Vogue, The Singapore Women’s Weekly, and Renotalk.
Connect with Paws of Kow!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One
- Nerissa Low, Liht Organics
- Nicolette Ng, Write Edge
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems
- Dr. Menka Gupta, Nutra Nourish
- Lily Kew, Kew Organics
- Vikki Tear, SoyCraft
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)