Talking with Nicole, you easily get a sense of her personal drive, love of adventure and ability to connect with everyone around her. These are just some of the reasons she is our employee of the month! Not only does Nicole makes our East Austin location sing, she literally provides a live band for her members at Happy Hours. Most recently, she has started working with Bond’s social media team and has brought a fresh perspective to our digital presence. Along with her bold personal style, she brings a can-do attitude that yields a distinct quality in everything she does making her an imperative piece of the bond collective team.
-Lucas Keefer, Project Coordinator
Photography: Leland Ohlinger
L: How did you feel when you found out you were receiving Employee Of The Month? What was your first thought?
N: It was a big day for me. My first thought was how to thank everybody. I think sometimes employee of the month can be like just this thing that gets passed around but it doesn't feel like that to me so I wanted to find a way to let everybody know that it felt really good!
L: Let's start from the beginning! Where did you grow up?
N:I grew up in a town called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Really tiny town about an hour and half outside of El Paso. Very remote and deserty, we had one stop light. It was a cool place to grow up but I didn't have access to a ton of things like diversity or even shops. It's made me really grateful to be in a place like Austin now. Everything I can imagine is here and for things like concerts, they come to me now!
L: What was your first intro into the hospitality industry?
N: I went to school in Durango, Colorado and I stayed there for 10 years. Also a really small town. That's where I started doing events. We actually opened and operated a restaurant for a year and then sold it. It was an opportunity to test out some of the skills I started growing with hospitality, events and networking.
L: Where did you go to school? What did you go for?
N: I went to Fort Lewis College for English and Secondary Education. Yeah, it’s a very small liberal arts college in Durango that I was able to go to on a Native American scholarship program. I have indigenous lineage so that's how I was able to go, a really weird thing but that's why I went to Durango and I'm really glad I went.
L: Very cool, so your lineage is from what nation?
N: Potawatomi, based in Oklahoma. I don't know a whole lot about it, it's a very small tribe but they helped me get to school!
L: What sparked the switch from Secondary Education to Hospitality?
N: It was just sort of a natural thing. I think that running classrooms is a lot like running a staff at a restaurant. They are very similar because It’s all about identifying talent and skill and putting people where they will be most successful. And when I began hosting events in Durango I saw how much fun it was and how we were able to create visibility for different issues within a small community. That was really all I needed to continue on that path. We also actually hosted the first drag show in Durango history and now they have them at least once a month!
L: What ended up bringing you to Austin?
N: Once the restaurant was sold, I really had some time to think about what was next. Our investor from the restaurant was actually relocating to Austin and he mentioned to me that I should go and test it out for a few months. Once I got here it was so cool I ended up staying and that was already four years ago!
L: That's great! What do you think of Austin so far?
N: It's fantastic! Especially because during the pandemic so many people moved here from New York and California, so everyone here has a reason why. Austin isn't a place where you just end up, like you're here intentionally, on a mission. So I think that really has the potential to shape the experience of a city when just about everyone there with you is there on purpose.
L: When you began working with us, you caught the tail end of construction for the Austin office. What has it been like to see the workspace taking shape?
N: I always thought of it as the difference between adopting a puppy and adopting a dog. You're going to love it no matter what but you’re going to have just a little bit more of a connection with the puppy. You feel like you've participated a little more in that life or process.
L: You're known for your events and happy hours. In the Covid era, have you been able to bring events back or find creative ways to host without gathering?
N: During Covid we actually were able to host a few open air events outside. We did a covid-safe rooftop sunset session with live music and also a planting party on our terrace which was great. We have these amazing 75 degree December days, so it was really second to none.
L: If you could host any type of event in the space, what would your dream event be?
N: Definitely would be to have a live music event, I mean it is Austin so we need that. After that, I would say just using it as an opportunity to gather anyone and everyone that's ever worked in the space to show their skills. These are vendors we’ve collaborated with in one way or another who do everything from making artisanal, pageant-level meringues to West Texas Sotol. People like this come into our space and make Bond feel inspiring and interesting, so it would be cool to bring them all together to really show off their passions.
L: Do you have a favorite space in any of our offices?
N: Uhm ya. I had no idea that you could just walk down the hallway of 60 Broad Street and casually look over and get an unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty! Everyone was really low key about this but I couldn't believe it? Like how are all these people working?!
L: When you're not at work what are you up to?
N: Probably getting other people to come along to different events. Pretty much anything I do I try and get at least 9 other people to do it with me. Whether it's brunch or going paddle boarding. Any manner of group activity!
L: Favorite Movie?
N: First Wives Club! A favorite movie to me is something that I can have on in the background that I don't need to actually watch or like - wait honestly even something like Clueless!
L: What’s your go to music?
N: Not really anything that I can listen to at work… So hmm I would say like I either have CNN or NPR going at all times or it's going to be like Doja Cat or Cardi B and that's pretty much it.
L: Which location are you most excited to see or go to?
N: I want to say Gowanus, everyone talks about it so much and I feel like I just have to see it! Sounds like there's always so much going on there and it's really big so that's one of the ones I'm really looking forward to seeing.
L: You’ve been working on Bond’s social media, how has that collaboration been?
N: In the past, I’ve learned stuff on the fly when promoting events but now working with other creatives and actually collaborating is such a gift. In terms of creating content, it’s been really exciting because I have a really beautiful space and also a great platform. Yesterday, we actually did some little shoots in the space. My partner is a DP and we used their steady cam to shoot three short scenes to push for social. It’s been so much fun. I don’t know that I would have felt as empowered to start those projects if I hadn’t stepped into a more collaborative role with the design team on the social media side.
L: Well, we’re inspired to see such creativity come out of BC East Austin and we can’t wait to see your short films!