Chloé is the founder and director of the buzzing arts PR Agency ‘Chloé Nelkin Consulting’ in the heart of Soho. At only 29, Chloé already has an ever growing team of five members and has gone from strength to strength to build her brand.
Starting her company six years ago at 22 whilst still in university, Chloé has collated an impressive collection of high profile art clients such as the National Trust, World Monuments Fund and Moniker Art Fair.
In Theatre, Chloé has an incredible reputation at the Edinburgh Fringe and she also caters for a huge variety of clients across the Off West End and West End scene. Chloé was also recently nominated for Rising Star Award in Variety Catherine Awards which was a fantastic accomplishment.
What inspired you to start a business?
Throughout school and university, I’d always enjoyed taking the helm – that ranged from managing a fashion show to organising events. I hadn’t originally anticipated that I’d run a business but during my time studying at The Courtauld Institute of Art I became involved with, and then chaired, a student-run contemporary art exhibition, the East Wing Collection. Through this, my PR skills developed rapidly as I began to get a taste for the industry. I’d always been sure I wanted to work in art but I realised that PR was where I wanted to be.
My experience of working at other PR firms confirmed to me that I wanted to spearhead projects in my own way and feel truly invested in what I was doing. When, in March 2010, a gallery asked me to handle their PR, Chloé Nelkin Consulting was born. For me this was the logical way forward. I was lucky enough to feel confident in my own skills, find something that ticked all my boxes and I felt sure enough to put my own name on the door.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
I think the greatest reward is having been able to watch my own business grow and develop. I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made over the years that have taken CNC to where it is today – the company has gone from just me working at the kitchen table to a successful agency with offices in central Soho. The business has expanded, we’re now a team of six who are about to celebrate our 7th birthday.
There have been many challenges along the way but I think they’re important to growing a successful business. Because it’s my company, I’m emotionally involved in my work. I believe in openness and honesty – a key ethos of CNC – and it’s challenging for me to accept that not everybody is the same. I find rude or untrustworthy behaviour very draining, whether it’s directed at me or my staff.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures.
Everybody encounters failures to some degree at some point in their careers and it’s often through failures that we can learn the best way to do things. As corny as it sounds, it’s so important to learn from these and not let them have a long-term effect on the way you work. It’s also important to set yourself achievable goals. Yes, the sky is the limit, but some things take a long time to work out so it’s vital to have goals that can be managed short term. Make sure there’s always a reason to celebrate!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?
I think my biggest challenge has been dealing with the fact that I’m a workaholic. PR is a 24-hour a day industry and because of this I find it very hard to switch off. I love what I do so it’s very easy to get swept away and work all the time – my staff sometimes joke about who received the latest email from me as they are checking what time I’ve worked until. But, I’m finally learning to juggle things a bit better and master my work/life balance.
I’m a perfectionist though and really take responsibility for everything we do – it’s this caring nature that is one of the keys to our success. As time goes on I’m learning that delegating is important too; I have the most incredible team who are excellent at what they do and I don’t actually need to work 24 hours a day. I don’t know if any business owner can ever really switch off but I’m certainly getting better at finding time to relax as time goes on.
How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?
I’ve never had formal mentoring or coaching but I do really value having a strong support network to help guide me – I have many people I look to for advice including friends, family and leading figures within the industry. These are the people who have given me confidence, encouragement and cause to celebrate over the years. When I am drowning with work they remind me to stop for a moment and look at what I’ve achieved. Having this strong support network is crucial to me and it’s important to have a sounding board
I do think for many people though that mentoring is very important and I find it humbling that people now look to me for advice – I’m always happy to guide in any way I can so that people learn from my experiences.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
I’ve always been a great believer in the importance of networking and good manners and those are two of the things that make me successful in what I do today. East Wing (the exhibition that I told you about earlier) was an amazing networking tool for me and I was able to make connections with some of the top gallerists and artists working in London at that time. It was through East Wing that I met CNC’s first client. The best piece of advice I can give is that networking is only worthwhile if you follow up – if you meet someone then don’t let them forget you. Be confident and believe in what you do and have to offer and then networking will come naturally.
What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?
CNC is a business that grows organically. I’m very happy with where the company is, I have an amazing team and we work on some incredible projects across the year. CNC grows as and when it needs to rather than me putting pressure on the business to meet a set expansion point.
What does the future hold for you?
I don’t have a crystal ball but the business is exactly where I want it to be for now. 2017 is set to be a brilliant year and CNC has been expanding in a really exciting way so let’s see what happens next.