Nico’s Team Spotlights are a way for the community to get to know the people behind Nico a bit better. This interview shares Justin’s thoughts about what’s fulfilling and challenging about communicating about Nico.
Name and role
Justin Kazmark, Communications Lead at Nico
What do you do at Nico?
My work is about helping people better understand what Nico is and how it’s a more inclusive model for building community wealth. In the early months, it was a lot of defining the messaging and the focus now is on pushing our media strategy forward to build awareness about Nico.
What’s your professional background?
I’ve always been interested in words and language so I studied semiotics in college. After college I taught 6th grade at a public school in New York City for two years before pursuing a career in PR, working mostly with social enterprises. Most recently, I was Vice President of Communications at Kickstarter, where I worked for nine years.
What excites you about your job?
Nico’s focus on helping more people earn wealth created within their own neighborhoods is really important. I was drawn to the idea of supporting a public benefit corporation, and it’s been great to be part of something that’s so early on in its journey.
How do you describe what Nico does and its mission to your family and friends?
It’s a neighborhood investment company that helps people build a long-term financial stake in their community through real estate. Nico Echo Park levels the playing field for people who’ve previously been left out of investing in their neighborhood.
What’s challenging about communicating Nico to residents of Echo Park and its surrounding neighborhoods?
The hardest thing to explain about Nico is just how fundamentally different it is from other housing providers by virtue of being a public benefit corporation. The traditional model of profit maximization so ingrained that it’s really counterintuitive to believe that a company could operate in a way that balances profit and a higher purpose in the way that Nico does.
How do you see Nico positively impacting Echo Park?
Nico Echo Park creates an opportunity for people to participate in something of value that they were previously excluded from. That opportunity alone is a worthwhile pursuit.
Do you have a favorite Nico moment or memory?
Going as a team to my first Dodgers game!
How do you spend your life outside of Nico?
I spend a lot of time with my kids. Helping them with homework. Playing board games. Reading together. And I got a dog for the first time last year and have quickly become a dog person.