Nicole Antoinette



New York University, Bachelor of Science, Food Studies

A perk of co-owning your own company? Giving oneself a ridiculously awesome job title. Nicole Antoinette is “Princess of Particulars” at Shatterboxx, Inc., a job she says is “more or less equivalent to business operations manager, only with 10 percent more tiaras.” Nicole handles the web design company’s client relations and daily business operations, while co-owner Jamie Varon is the creative force behind the company’s portfolio of websites. When she’s not following projects from beginning to end, Nicole is tweeting for @shatterboxx and acting as the  “curator of awesome shit” for the BoxxBlog, a behind the scenes peek at things she and Jamie love. (If you can’t tell already, these women bring loads of fun, sassy personality to their work. Just check out their business tagline: “Warning: May Cause Designgasm.”)

Nicole didn’t start out in web design, though. A food studies major, she spent the five years before joining Shatterboxx as director of a children’s summer day camp in Southern California. Nicole says it might seem like a jumbled path, but thinks it’s proof that if you focus on developing strong transferable skills, you can successfully apply them in a variety of industries.

And, as if running a business doesn’t keep her busy enough, Nicole also organizes "Bloggers in Sin City," an annual bloggers “unconference” in Las Vegas that acts as a networking meet up for personal bloggers and social media enthusiasts. She’s an avid blogger herself, maintaining a personal blog “Nicole is Better” (now defunct) and “Get This in Your Mouth,” a site that’s half downloadable recipes, half food blog. Read on for Nicole’s refreshing take on entrepreneurship.

Owning your own company is insanely rewarding, but the 'insane' part is in there for a reason.

How did you discover your current job?

My business partner, Jamie Varon, founded Shatterboxx in 2009, and we decided to join forces about 8 months later, in early 2010. As best friends and roommates, the transition to also being business partners was smooth and fun for us, and it’s been incredible to each develop our own divisions of responsibility within the company ever since.

What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?

One of the most fun things about owning your own company is that no two days are ever the same. Some days are focused entirely on our finances, other days are spent working on the BoxxBlog, meeting with potential clients, brainstorming our  next big project, plotting the company’s growth plan -- it all makes an appearance in my ever-changing daily routine.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?

The most challenging part of my job is that I work from home, which is closely tied into the most rewarding part of the job -- being self-employed. It’s wonderful to have complete ownership over my work, but if I don’t stay focused, organized, and on top of everything, I’m the one who’s going to feel the direct impact.

What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?

The ability to leave work behind at the end of the day. The downside to working on projects I’m passionate about with someone whose creativity is constantly inspiring makes it hard to just shut the business part of my brain down at 7 p.m. or over the weekend.

What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?

Just because you can work from the couch in your pajamas doesn’t mean you should.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?

I think one of the biggest challenges for women is (and always has been) the self-imposed pressure to be everything to everyone at the same time.

Who are your role models?

Coco Chanel, definitely. I mean, talk about a trailblazing powerhouse of a woman.

What are some of the rules you live by?

Wake up early. Set clear and measurable goals. Don’t be an asshole to yourself. Remember people’s names. Focus more on being interested than interesting.

What advice do you have for women who want to be in your industry?

Since I came into the design industry through such an unconventional route, I actually think that the best advice I can give is less about design and more about self-employment in general.

If you’re interested in working for yourself, make sure it’s really what you want and consider all of the different factors before giving up a steadier alternative. People tell me all the time that they’re jealous of what I do, but they aren’t willing to give up their very consistent paycheck, guaranteed benefits, or the ability to leave the office at a certain time each day to pursue it. Owning your own company is insanely rewarding, but the “insane” part is in there for a reason.

For those who want to pursue it, my best advice is to do what’s right for your company and not worry so much about how others are running theirs. Karen Karbo says it best: “Cut to the chase, don't waste time doing stuff that seems to be essential to your life and business, just because other people do it. Why make nachos if what you really want to do is pick the browned shreds of baked cheddar off the cookie sheet? Just cook the cheese and be done with it.”

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Honestly, with how fast everything in my life and company changes, I have a hard time envisioning a five-year plan. I’ve found that the most successful goal setting comes in smaller increments - five weeks from now, five months from now, etc. -- because we can only ever see one or two steps ahead of us at any given time.

What are three things you love aside from your job?

If I’m not working, I’m cooking. If I’m not cooking, I’m writing. And it I’m not writing, I’m running. Work, cook, write, run, repeat.

-Interview by Keriann Strickland