Parisa Fowles-Pazdro of maxbone: “Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs”

Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to do an express course about how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workers comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, these are basic […]

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Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to do an express course about how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workers comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, these are basic things that no one talks about, but you need to nail it to avoid mistakes from day one. I wasn’t raised in the USA so wasn’t familiar with the 100 different sales tax or other types of tax license and insurance you need and had to learn the hard way when I started.


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Parisa Fowles-Pazdro.

Parisa Fowles-Pazdro started her entrepreneurial journey by capitalizing on her unique design sensibility. She recognized that the lack of high-quality materials and elevated shopping experience were gaps in the market she could fill. Parisa built maxbone to become a community-driven pet and lifestyle company, and continues to grow a successful team to build upon that vision, culminating in a strong fashion and market experience that creates a cultured, current, and loved brand.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

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.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

In the early stages of maxbone, I had to juggle a lot of duties, from the broad ones such as securing venture funding, to the very small ones such as labeling products. Besides being a solo founder, I didn’t have any external investment for the first 8 months, so on top of all of the other responsibilities, one of the biggest challenges was to convince future investors why we were disrupting an archaic industry.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When you’re clear about your vision, you’ll find motivation to keep going even when the world tells you to stop. I’ve always been driven and had a mindset that failure is not an option so I went into autopilot and blocked out external noise. As I said, you have to be passionate and obsessed with your vision and know that any obstacle that comes your way is not going to stop your mission. My favorite mantra is “Hardship often prepares ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I’m really proud of what we’ve built and grateful for my hardworking team. However, the entrepreneurial journey doesn’t get any easier as with growth you face different problems. With resilience comes experience, so you learn to deal with problems differently and with growth you have more resources to build a better team and get additional support across all departments.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Getting maxbone off the ground was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but it has been very rewarding. One of the funniest mistakes I made was the time I had to label 200k dollars worth of products because I forgot to ask the manufacturers for barcodes. After that, I learned how important it is to create systems for supply chain management to avoid this kind of error.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The maxbone community sets this company apart from all others. We have a passionate community of dog lovers who love modern design and are inspired by premium, well-designed products for their pets that are unique in the market. While there are many companies in the pet food space or the pet accessory space, there are very few that serve the customer across both areas with high quality, visually exciting pieces and that has inspired our loyal maxbone following. We have an amazing community who are excited about every new product launch and can’t wait to be the first to create content with the new products. I am amazed everyday at their passion for the brand and their creativity. As an example, we did a collaboration with the designer, Christian Cowan: we collaborated to design a limited edition fluffy pink dog sweater and from this one sweater, we have seen our community post thousands of photos and videos across multiple social media channels which has been astounding for us.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Practicing self-care to remain calm, keep the creativity flowing, and support your 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!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anyone who helped me or mentored me when I was starting my business. I had to be extremely proactive to learn everything. Fortunately, maxbone got funded by Colle Capital, an amazing VC fund led by Victoria Grace and she has become my mentor since then. It’s very refreshing to have a female investor who is very passionate and helpful towards the business they invest in. I’m also creating an amazing advisory board composed of successful founders of established companies. I feel very grateful for one of them in particular, Trina Spear, co-founder of Figs +. It’s rare to find people who are honest about their professional journey, so I’m very lucky to have mentors who are transparent about their failures and guide me to avoid the same mistakes.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Creating awareness for the fact that our pets are our family members as well as how important it is to help animals in need. My goal is to use my success to create more shelters for dogs that are non-kill with open fields for them to be trained and live a loved life instead of horrible shelter cages.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Finances and operations can either make or break entrepreneurs. I wish I was told to do an express course about how to start a business from a bureaucratic perspective. Sales taxes for different cities, workers comp insurance, company handbook, employee contracts, how to read a model or to make a business deck, these are basic things that no one talks about, but you need to nail it to avoid mistakes from day one. I wasn’t raised in the USA so wasn’t familiar with the 100 different sales tax or other types of tax license and insurance you need and had to learn the hard way when I started.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Adopt dogs, don’t buy them from pet stores. The final thing that happens to a dog after arriving at a shelter is either adoption or euthanasia. Unfortunately, the vast majority of pets in high-intake shelters don’t make it out alive. So adopting not only means you’re giving them a proper happy life but also giving the spot to other dogs.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow @parisafowles & @themaxbone

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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