Standing O: Nicole Damico turns her passion for animals into successful small business


In 2017, Nicole Damico’s life modified. 

Her mom misplaced her battle with most cancers in April of that 12 months, and for Damico, that modified her perspective on how she seen life, and the way she wished to dwell it. 

“Obviously, losing my mom was such a pivotal moment in my life, and I didn’t like how my mom turned 65 in February, passed away in April, and never got to enjoy her retirement,” she said. “She missed it, and I hated that for her, because her and my dad had so many plans.”

Her business Keys and Collars was only a “facet hustle” on the time, as Damico labored full-time as a medical biller. About six months earlier than her mother’s demise, she remembers sitting in her driveway with her mother and father and brainstorming methods to flip her love of caring for animals into her business, an concept that was born after a pal requested her to pet-sit whereas she was away. Her mother and father have at all times been her largest supporters, and Damico mentioned they inspired her to pursue her passion. 

Now, Keys and Collars lately celebrated its fifth anniversary, and Damico has not solely saved a small business afloat throughout a worldwide pandemic, however she has grown her business to make use of 35 individuals to serve Volusia and Flagler County, in addition to the higher Florida Keys. Damico has future plans to proceed increasing to Tampa, North Georgia and probably Jacksonville. 

“This business has been my saving grace,” she mentioned.

Lifting one another up

After her mother’s demise, Damico took three months off her medical billing job, and Keys and Collars, to permit herself time to grieve and course of. Then when she got here again to work, she realized she hated being there.

“I remember sitting at my cubicle job and I was just like, ‘I don’t like feeling stuck here, and working for somebody else,’” she recalled.

Kristin Heron, one in all our Standing O nominees in 2020, nominated Nicole Damico for the popularity. File photograph

Damico spoke with her father and he informed her he would help no matter

“I’m nominating Nicole Damico as a result of via her business, Keys and Collars, she’s not solely made it straightforward for residents of Ormond Beach (and past) to really feel comfy leaving their beloved pets safely at house whereas they journey, however she’s additionally created quite a few jobs in our neighborhood for her pet sitting crew. Nicole’s business has touched so many individuals and pets in a constructive manner, and he or she deserves a Standing O.”

Kristin Heron, curator of Education, Outreach and Exhibitions on the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens

determination she made. Two months later, she took the leap of religion, and celebrated her final day at her medical billing job simply in the future earlier than her one-year anniversary of launching Keys and Collars.