Natasha Koifman: “I’m Very Specific About Who And What I Am”

The PR powerhouse shares her latest collection on ShopNK, an array of elevated home must-haves designed for purposeful living.

In life, timing is everything — and those who have an acute understanding of where things are, and a preternatural feeling for where things are going, are best positioned to capitalize on ever-shifting trends and styles.

Cue Natasha Koifman, president of NKPR, a leading North American PR, artist management and digital agency. The PR powerhouse’s ability to keep her finger on the pulse of fashion and industry and anticipating consumer tastes, while also understanding the ins and outs of her clients’ businesses and strategic visions, has helped NKPR support some of the world’s most coveted brands, including Swarovski, Manolo Blahnik, Lightspeed, Lanterra, Nature’s Bounty and Flow Water.

None of Koifman’s many achievements and professional accomplishments come as a surprise to anyone who’s met her. Her signature look — which she describes as “black, edgy and timeless” — announces her presence in any room around the world. Her curated tastes extend to her two black Labradors, KoD and Poe, and even the Zoom background during our interview, which was a modern black interior, featuring two modern chrome-framed black and white pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. As NKPR advises its clients on every project, don’t just talk — say something.

Despite appearances, Koifman feels most comfortable at home with loved ones: “I live the life of an extrovert because of my career, but I’m definitely an introvert. For me, home is my sanctuary. I recharge at home, and so the meaning of home just means so much more to me, because it’s just my quiet place, my happy place.” While statements of this nature from public figures can come across as disingenuous or affected, with Koifman it’s clear that she means it. As she explains, her life path wasn’t always the easy route: “You sort of look at my life. I was 18 years old when I had my son. The odds were kind of stacked against me, in a way. Then, you fast forward, and my son is a lawyer now. I run a successful business, and I get to do what I love every single day, surrounded by people that I love working with every single day, and finally have a partner that I love living with every single day. And it’s not to say you don’t go through hiccups along the way, and it’s not to say that life is going to be perfect all the time, but you learn along the way. I do believe that purposeful and intentional living is going to get you to where you want to be.”

It’s perhaps for this reason that Koifman is committed to paying forward her life’s successes. As the chair of the board for Artists for Peace and Justice Canada, having helped raise more than $33 million for schools in Haiti over the past 12 years, Koifman is most proud of her philanthropic accomplishments. “I just feel like, for me charity and cause has always been such a huge part of what has been important to me and truly one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. To be able to know that I helped a child open up their mind and their world to be able to give them an education.”

Motivated in part by her philanthropic commitments, in September 2019, Koifman launched ShopNK, a home-themed e-commerce platform with a curated selection of some of her favourite items. With each purchase, a portion of the proceeds is directed to an established charity of the buyer’s choice — one of five local and international organizations that include Artists for Peace and Justice, Best Buddies, Black Women in Motion, G(irls)20, Save Our Scruff and St. Felix Centre. “My hope with this site, in particular, is find your charity — it might not be APJ, it might not be any of the five — but, if you find something that you’re really connected to and passionate about, do it, and don’t give up on it, and give up your time. It’s not always money that they need, time, whatever you can give, because I truly believe we’re put on this earth to leave it better than when we came into it, right? And, so, what’s your part? What are you going to do?” says Koifman.

Koifman, who has a strong, specific vision of who she is and the brand she has developed, entered the home-goods space by listening, anticipating and adapting to disruptive changes that have come with the pandemic. ShopNK merges both philanthropy and home goods, highlighting the heightened awareness of their home living space that the pandemic has brought to consumers, and an increase in the importance of having a social conscience. Each piece for sale through ShopNK is carefully selected by Koifman herself. “I just thought, what are the things that are truly giving me that sense of comfort during this time, but even beyond this time. The thinking behind ShopNK is how do we sell merchandise and products that people are excited about, but also encourage them to be more philanthropic? … I truly put so much heart into every single item that’s curated there. And home is where the heart is, and I want to make sure that I’m surrounded by things that I love, that I hand-picked, that aren’t there by accident, but by choice.”

“I do believe that purposeful and intentional living is going to get you to where you want to be”

With each piece of her curated home collection, she’s managed to align ShopNK with storytelling and with where the trends are heading, cultivating an authentic relationship with consumers. “I think that what people have realized is that there’s a need to invest in your home. Whether you continue to spend more time in your home or not, I think people are realizing that your home is your space and so you want to invest in that.”

When asked about some of her favourite pieces from ShopNK, she points to the Kashwere Signature Shawl Collar robe that she takes everywhere, even while staying at the world’s most luxurious resorts while travelling with her husband (whom she recently married in early June), Eric Hendrikx, to places like the remote hideaway, Amangiri, in Utah. “It’s so cozy. It’s one of the first things that I put on when I’m at home, and I just want to feel that sense of comfort, and I actually travel with it, as well.”

As a true romantic, Koifman shares how each piece is truly a piece of happiness from her life. The Cire Trudon Solis Rex candle is an example of how she carries her happiest moments into the line, recalling a memory she shared with Hendrikx when they travelled to Paris. “Eric and I went to Paris in October and obviously fell in love with Cire Trudon — they’re one of the oldest candlemakers in France. One of our date nights was a digital tour of the Palace of Versailles because you’re able to do them virtually and what he did was light one of the candles, which is the scent of the actual wood floor of the Palace of Versailles.”

Another signature line are the Redline bracelets that she always wears on her left wrist. “I love the Redline bracelets because in the Jewish faith, you put a little red string on babies’ outfits to ward off anything negative, and so I’ve always worn a red string somewhere on my body, and I discovered them years and years ago somewhere in Paris.”

Koifman’s strong sense of spirituality can be seen throughout the whole collection. As an avid tea drinker, her collection features a tea assortment made by a female BIPOC founder of wellness brand L’Artisan Muse. “Some people come home after work or after their full day of Zooms — they’ll have a glass of wine. I just don’t do that. My way of unwinding is having a cup of tea, and so I believe if someone is selling me tea that’s a love tea, or a Zen tea, I buy into that … and I feel that sense of calm.”

Whether it’s a cup of tea, a cashmere robe, or a piece of jewelry, it all goes back to intentionally living for Koifman. “I just think if you don’t live your life with intention and purpose, then you’re not sure of the direction you’re going in … I function like that in business, and I function like that in my personal life. And so I feel like living your life with intention and purpose — those are the key ingredients to be able to achieve the goals you want to achieve.”

Given its social imperative, in addition to its home collection, ShopNK offers a mentorship program that allows people to purchase oneon- one opportunities to speak with industry leaders. “For $250, you get to speak to someone like a Janet Zuccarini, who’s so brilliant, has launched some of the biggest restaurants in the world, or my friend Rajen Ruparell, who is the co-founder of Groupon and also Endy mattresses. And so, for $250, 100 per cent of that money goes back to a charity that you get to choose, and you get to spend some time with some of the most brilliant minds out there.”

While Koifman says that she feels every one of the mentors on the site have been her personal mentors, “I’m lucky that I can pick up the phone and call my friend Carrie Kirkman at any time and say, ‘What do you think about this?’ And, whom Koifman looks up to the most is extremely heartwarming and speaks to her role as a mother. “I look up to my son. I think that he’s done so well. I’m truly, truly so proud of the human he’s become. I look at how he’s navigating his career. I think he’s very, very smart, very well-read. He has a very interesting and smart outlook on things, whether it’s politics or the cultural scene.”

Although the business of public relations necessarily requires a focus on what brands and people project outward, Koifman’s story suggests that this approach is not exclusive: “I think beauty from the inside out is feeling compassion for others. I think it’s about kindness, I think it’s about joy. It’s more about your connection to humanity more than anything.” In other words, it’s about putting substance behind the sizzle. And, ever the consummate professional, Koifman doesn’t miss an opportunity to advocate for a client: “Take the Nature’s Bounty gummy vitamins — they’re good for you, and they help with skin, shine on your hair and nails … so, that’s a dual answer for you!”

Clearly, Koifman’s best days are ahead of her, and she has a few big things planned for the coming year: “If I can believe it, dream it and see it, I will get there.” Whatever comes next for Koifman, it’s sure to leave a mark — and, equally, it’s sure to say something.

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Estelle Zentil

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