Since graduating from Columbia College Chicago in 2005 with a degree in Graphic Design and Marketing, alumna Nicole Quattrocki knew she wanted to combine her love for art, design, and animals into a lifelong intersection of utilizing art to inspire, educate, and create change. A few years ago, she started her own non-profit, SavingCityTails.com. The organization is committed to eliminating animal homelessness through its own and partner efforts by using art and design to help spread awareness and fund shelter programs that have a focus on prevention.
Prior to starting Saving City Tails, Nicole was involved in a number of luxury and urban real estate development projects ranging from independent restaurants, multi-family development, full-service hotels that need independent re-positioning and well known reputable retail brands like G.U.E.S.S. We asked Nicole a few questions about her time at Columbia and it paved the way for her current career.
How did you find your first career-related opportunities?
I actually did my own networking back in the day and connected with Nina Ivon who then worked for SAKS fifth AVE. I was able to get my first job interview through her and she opened many doors for me when I started my handbag line. I also met my friend and mentor Helen Berkun who is a very talented fashion photographer. She was kind enough to let me tag along with her on photoshoots which helped lead me to the road of starting my own handbag line, and working in L.A with Rebecca Marciano whose father started the brand G.U.E.S.S.. If it weren’t for me finding and seeing value in leveraging relationships I wouldn’t have had many of the opportunities I have had in my past and present.
How important is collaboration in the creative process?
Collaboration is crucial in the creative process, when I was younger I looked at it as competition, now I see collaboration as a tremendous opportunity to work with people who compliment my existing skills and I theirs. It will take you years to do alone what you could get accomplished in 6 months working with the right group of people. Be open.
How did you decide to create your own non-profit?
I decided to create Saving City Tails because there was a need for it. There was a need for creatives to have a platform to share their talent in the city, and there was equally a need to be able to educate the public about problems that end in the killing of perfectly healthy pets in our shelters just because of overpopulation, which we can help stop. I was born with art and vision as my talent and gift and before I leave this earth I want to be able to feel like I had contributed to something larger than me and used my gift for something greater than money or fame. That has never inspired me.
How do you involve artists with Saving City Tails?
We have the artists send in their portfolios or samples of their works, this can be anything from interior design, architecture or paintings. Our board then reviews the artists’ work and chooses who we want to select to work with us on our next event and be highlighted on our website. The artists are able to sell their work when a proceed of what they sell goes directly back to SAVING CITY TAILS, that is a fund that then provides money to animal shelters and organizations we are partnering with. For now, those organizations are ALIVE RESCUE and PAWS CHICAGO.
What advice do you have for senior students?
Connect, connect, and connect! You can not get anywhere in life with just talent, and if you do, you’re lucky. You need to be able to share with others what you do, what you want to do and most importantly what you’re passionate about. Try things, mess up, fail, and get back out there and do it over and over and over again. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be your authentic self.