Dominic Coballe is not your average designer. The design graduate, who worked in design agencies for over thirteen years as both a designer and a creative director, said he has always had a vision for something bigger, something better.
While working full-time, Coballe teams up with his wife and now current business partner, Chrystale Ladouceur, to create something extraordinary.
The duo created one of the first concepts of an iPod nano watch, which ultimately sparked international attention and interest.
It was at this point in 2010 that Coballe and Ladouceur turned their bungalow into their workspace, fused their talents together, and created their own brand.
“Our goal was to conceive of simple and fun objects that would capture someone’s attention for a few golden moments,” said Coballe.
Four years later, Coballe is the CEO of slow good producer N-Product, a lifestyle product company that focuses on on-shore manufacturing and sourcing, and supporting other small businesses that share their philosophies and goals.
N-Product now operates out of a new workspace they moved into last year.
“We needed more space and a separation from home life and business life,” said Coballe.
This duo operates their entire business on their own, with little help from employees hired only at peak production times.
“We wanted to carve our own course in the world. We wanted to do what we wanted to do, and go after what we believe in,” said Ladouceur.
N-Product is free spirited and does not follow a set business plan.
“We had a mission, goals and targets and of course a budget. We just hit ‘go’,” said Coballe.
Their mission was to make smart, interesting objects in a responsible manner.
“We are governed by five tenets,” said Coballe. “Whimsy, craftsmanship, imagination, authenticity and Canadian””
“We offer something unique that’s made in a responsible manner. We’re pretty open in everything we do,” said Coballe.
“Our customers not only care about the uniqueness of an item, but they also want to support companies who are sustainable in their operations,” said Ladouceur.
Coballe said one of the biggest issues with running this type of business is discipline.
“In a creative field, you have great opportunities, but these same opportunities to do all these wonderful ideas could easily distract us from focusing on what is important and what drives sales and builds our business,” said Ladouceur.
Additionally, N-Product is never shy to ask for assistance.
“We have a few mentors in business in Ottawa. We’re fortunate to know the startup community, so there a lot of chances to bounce ideas off people who are both more experienced and successful then us,” said Coballe.
As a start-up, Coballe relies on social media to market his business.
“We have used content marketing such as social media and blog posts,” said Coballe. “We have been lucky enough to receive a lot of press coverage over the years.”
Coballe describes technology as something that has been “the biggest part of how we conduct business.”
“We used a myriad of web services, from e-mail marketing to accounting and everything in between,” said Coballe.
Coballe explained that through technology, like N-Product’s website, customers from around the globe are able to access their goods.
“We sell internationally,” said Coballe. “We plan to grow slowly in our current markets.”
Coballe looks at the future of his business as an opportunity to continue to grow.
“2015 presents a re-focus of our efforts. We’re expanding our popular Urbanwood line in a big way,” he said.
He wants what most businesses want: market growth, increased sales and the ability to “keep making cool stuff.”