Working With Dog

Victoria Stilwell & Holly Firfer on Pet Life Radio

On this special edition of the Positively Podcast, Holly and Victoria invite Working with Dog founder Nichole Smith to the show to talk about her list of reasons why you should consider working as a 'petrepreneur,' and some professional advice for anyone looking to break into the pet industry.

Ask Victoria questions include:

  • •How can I get my dog to take treats more gently?
    •Will it traumatize my new puppy to leave her with a pet sitter while I go on a trip?
    •What's the best way to introduce two new puppies to my household routine?


J.Nichole Smith is a commercial pet photographer, marketing consultant and dog expert. In 2005 she founded dane + dane studios, a creative studio for pet businesses. In 2007 she co-founded Dog is Good, a lifestyle company for dog lovers, which is now a multi-million dollar business.

In addition to championing her own brands, Nichole has spent the last decade crafting creative strategies and campaigns for the most influential individuals and brands in the pet industry, including the likes of Purina, Petco and Victoria Stilwell.

In 2012, Nichole traded sunny California for swinging London. Later that year, her coffee table book ‘Puppyhood’ was released to critical acclaim. In 2014 Nichole graduated with Distinction from Kingston University’s MA Marketing program. Immediately following, Nichole opened Little & Large, a fine-art pet photography studio and dog boutique in SW London.

In 2016, Nichole sold her retail business and launched Working with Dog, a community based around providing petpreneuers with simple, actionable marketing strategies. Later in 2016, her book “Million Dollar Dog Brand – insights from the pet industry’s most inspiring startups” will be published. Nichole also keeps busy offering marketing courses, one-to-one consulting and keynote speeches (primarily to women) on topics relating to ‘marketing genius’ and entrepreneurship.

She currently works from London traveling often to the U.S. and various locations in France and Italy (traipsing from mountain to seaside with her husband, his cycle travel business and their ‘more-baby-than-dog’, Charleston).

J.Nichole Smith founder of
Nichole was recently named one of Pet Age Magazines ’40 under 40′ …

40U40web“What inspired you to get into the pet industry? Like many petpreneurs, I was inspired by my dog*. I was 22, she was a Great Dane puppy, and from the instant I met her, I knew my life, career and sleeping arrangements would never be the same.

What do you feel is your biggest contribution to the pet industry? I think my great gift is the ability to quickly understand, interpret and make tangible that which my clients can’t quite verbalize. My experience in so many aspects of pet business: as a dog owner, dogpreneur, visual artist, author, journalist, salesperson, retail shop owner, consultant and dog marketing expert allows me to always have the big picture in mind.

What do you wish you had known earlier about the pet industry? I wish I had known how easy it is to reach out to fellow business owners – how similar all of our needs, concerns and victories are and how open most people are to connecting.

What would people be surprised to learn about you? My first animal passion was horses. As a child I would get the Sunday paper, circle the classified ads of all the horses I wanted, then set about drawing them fancy expansive stables and barns.”

J.Nichole Smith with dog Charlie & Olivia (2004-2015)

* The big spotty lady you see here was the reason for my entire journey into the world of dogs and I owe any measure of any success I’ve found, to 11 years of her devotion, fearless spirit and not-so-quiet companionship. I said goodbye to her in the summer of 2015 and several weeks later I finally pulled myself together enough to compose the tribute she deserves, which lives here, if you’d like to read it. Needless to say, like all our heart dogs, she was somethin’ special.