In Conversation with Parisa Fowles-Pazdro of maxbone
Describe your business in a few words?
Maxbone has become the #1 platform for pet lovers looking for a timeless style, focusing on products that are both modern and functional. Our mission is quite simple: to empower pets and pet owners through our digital platform, where everything we make starts with our community. We think shopping for your dog should be fun and hassle-free.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
My goal was always to have my own business, and I have always been very driven to succeed in what I do. I met my husband while living in London at the age of 28, and he was a successful real estate investor. In 2007, the fall of the financial markets had a major effect on our lives and we lost a lot of the assets that we had invested in. We decided to move to New York in 2008, where we really had to restructure our lives. Both my husband and myself are very resilient personalities and we work hard to get ourselves through tough times. We had to rebuild our careers and establish a network here in the USA. We moved to Los Angeles in 2011, where our hard work finally started to pay off. In 2017 I started maxbone, a pet and lifestyle brand born with the mission to elevate the pet industry and connect the gap between dogs and dog owners.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I was born in Iran, raised in Sweden, lived in London, New York and now in LA. I started working hard at a very young age, with very strong ambitions for a career and to make sure I was self-sufficient. I studied in Stockholm whilst having three fashion retail jobs. I managed to save up and buy my first condo at the age of 19. From there, I was able to renovate and sell it after six months, at which point I made a good profit, moved to London and bought another condo.
I had to really hustle to get my first job, since I was so young. I really wanted to work in a retail store and everyone turned me down for being too young. In the end, my persistence won someone over, and I finally got a job at United Colors of Benetton. They told me that they couldn’t resist my charm and grit, and after three months of working with them on weekends I got promoted to key holder. At the time it felt like such a big deal and made me feel so responsible! The first time I got paid felt like heaven! I felt in control over my future, even with that tiny check.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Two things I always knew I wanted to do were start a brand and lead a company. I didn’t know what company and brand, but I always saw myself building something new.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
We didn’t want to rely on buying a customer over and over again through paid marketing. We were interested in how to build an organic presence as well as growing by word of mouth. We were lucky to have major celebrities such as the Kardashians, Selma Blair and Orlando Bloom, shopping from Maxbone at an early stage, which gave us credibility and positioned the brand differently in the market. We are a digitally native company so Instagram was where we started the connection with our audience, and it has been an incredible tool to show user-generated content. Our community is very passionate about the brand, and understand our mission to deliver a digital experience that everyone can be excited about.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Not delegating enough was a hard lesson to learn. However, by not delegating you’re limiting your company’s growth potential. Nobody who’s ever scaled a business from the ground up did it alone. Since maxbone is growing exponentially, I need to focus on the big picture and my amazing team is really committed to our goals, which makes the delegation process easier.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Stay resilient and focused on the mission in order to create a long-term and authentic brand. I’m most proud of launching our food line and getting so much positive feedback from followers, and most importantly innovating the pet industry with our designs and brand experience.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
My go-to question is “Why are you passionate about what we do?” I’ve always hired people who were excited about what maxbone was building. I’ve always had a clear vision for the company and I wanted to bring passionate people to help me evolve maxbone into a fashion, lifestyle and customer-centric company. I wanted people with global, multi-cultural backgrounds, that understand the power of creating an international brand.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Well, I absolutely think the pet industry is a recession-resistant category. The lockdown orders have created a perfect environment for pet ownership where people spend more meaningful time and invest more in their pets. We saw an increased demand for pet care products such as toys, treats and grooming and we were able to scale our food since people are looking for healthy and convenient options. Besides that, COVID-19 has given me a new outlook on our company’s role within our community. We’ve truly embraced the transformation and we adapted our current marketing model to better serve our customers. We want to offer meaningful value to our segment in every way we can.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Gearing up for even more growth while building a profitable company. One thing that I’m very, very excited for is to create the future of a pet brand that is much more emotional and connected with customers.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
To react ASAP and do not sit and watch it out. Adapt to what’s happening, listen to what the demand is and change accordingly.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Learn from your bad days! Each challenge that you face is a building block that will get you where you need to be. Adding to that, I’d recommend not ignoring when someone is not the right fit for their position. Having the right team is KEY to build a successful business and most of the time we rationalize poor performance for far longer than we should. Hire slow, fire fast is my tip for entrepreneurs looking for building a strong team that will be in the long haul with the company.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Practicing self-care to remain calm, keep the creativity flowing, and support my team. To me, self-care means setting aside some time to unplug and focus on things that make me happy. Personally, listening to music, cooking, and reading have brought me joy throughout these times. I also love burning sage, I find it to be so helpful as I unwind at the end of the day!
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
As the founder & CEO of a growing company, my life and work are indistinguishable. The quote “There’s no such thing as work/life balance” made a lot of sense to me in 2020 when I realized I needed to switch my perspective in order to keep myself energized and fulfilled. I stopped thinking that fun moments were only rewards for my hard-work and started recognizing that achievements and joy can happen at the same time.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I’d definitely be an FBI agent. Lol. Jokes apart, I’m obsessed with crime and serial killers shows.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- To-Do List.
- Exercise and Fresh Air.
- Sticking To Your Routine.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means being resilient and pursuing your passion. At maxbone, we appreciate all efforts to support the brand throughout this time. My advice would be to stand behind the small businesses that you love! Whether it is sharing with a friend, sending a kind Instagram DM, or making a purchase, your words mean more than you will ever know!