Evolve Female Founder Series-KPW Communications

As part of our Evolve Founder Series, we are pleased to highlight three incredible and inspiring founders of KPW Communications. Founded in 2019, KPW is a full-service communications firm founded by 3 accomplished journalists. Specializing in strategy, media relations, crisis communications, video storytelling, and government relations, KPW works with a wide variety of clients, including government agencies, private corporations, startups and non-profits.


Karman Kwong

Karman has the unique perspective of being on both sides of the camera. Karman was a reporter and anchor for Toronto’s 24-hour news channel – CP24.  Before that, Karman spent over ten years as a senior communication advisor to the Premier of Ontario and several cabinet ministers.  Karman leverages her combined experience to oversee crisis communications, media training and media relations at KPW.

Sarbjit Kaur

Sarbjit Kaur is a former journalist who has worked in public relations, marketing and politics for 20 years.  Sarbjit manages communications strategy, public affairs and multicultural marketing at KPW.

Naomi Parness

Naomi Parness was an award winning journalist for two decades and continues to do storytelling, producing, hosting and is an active volunteer in her community. Naomi is responsible for video storytelling at KPW

1.) Tell us about your business and what inspired you to start it. What are your goals and how has your business grown since you started? – Naomi

We’re a full service communications firm – which can mean everything from public relations to video and content creation to media training and managing events. We started with the three us of – right before the pandemic in 2019.  We

have now grown to a team of twelve (and counting!)  and are working with many clients on projects that have been both rewarding and impactful.

2.) Tell us about the Founders backgrounds and what got you together to create this business.  – Karman

I had previously worked with Sarbjit and Naomi separately.  Sarbjit and I worked in politics together and Naomi and I worked in television together. When the time came for me to move on from broadcasting, I knew I wanted a job that gave me the flexibility to be with my 3 young kids.  I had a sense of what I was good at doing but I also felt I lacked the knowledge of starting and running a business.  So after talking about it with Sarbjit and Naomi for almost a year, we made the leap and started a business together.  Sarbjit had come from a political background but also the agency PR world and had done her own consultancy business for years and Naomi had jumped from television to working with a large charity.  For me, I pulled everyone together because if you’re going to do your own thing – the best part is getting to pick who you want to work with.

3.) What was the hardest part getting the business up and running? Can you share some setbacks and how you handled things?  – Sarbjit

The hardest part was that we ended up launching a few weeks before the first COVID lockdowns!  Many clients and potential clients went into a bit of a holding pattern and typical work we’d do with them was on pause.  Thankfully,  the necessity to continue communicating (in some cases more than ever)  was clear and we were off to a pretty good start with organic growth happening at a pace we were happy with.  On the video side – our business really grew during this time.  Everyone needed video to communicate their cause and many of our clients turned in-person events into virtual events and virtual shows so we shifted our business and really expanded what we are able to do.

4.) Tell us about owning a business with partners. What do you like about it?  What are some of the challenges? Any tips on how you select the right partner for your business? – Karman

There’s something comforting to work with other people, especially people you know well and you like – to be able to rely on others to help.  Everyone has different strengths they bring to the company and it’s always nice to be able to share in the successes, the failures, and everything in between.

The challenges are similar to the benefits.  You get to work with people – good!  But, you also have to work with people too when it comes to making decisions.  You’re not always going to agree on everything. And it’s like any relationship – it’s work to maintain it and communication is key. Find people that share in your values, that you respect, and that you can see yourself spending a lot of time with!

5.) Can you share some achievements you’ve had so far since you started the business? What does representation mean to you? – Naomi

I think like most businesses we are proud to have weathered the pandemic and made it through!  When do we get the tshirts?!  The key for us is not only did we make it – through – but we were able to grow our team and our client roster, we were able to pivot and we continue to thrive.  I think we have also taken on work that is important to each of us and we have helped spread the word about important organizations and causes whether through media relations or video work.  We also won the Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Award for best Public Relations Firm just 2 years after we formed which was such a great feeling because our peers voted.  We are proud that we are a diverse group of women and have tried to continue to add people to our team and our client roster who represent diversity.

6.) Where do you want to go next as a business and can you share any tips to other founders out there about some key points that worked for you when it comes to growing your business. – Sarbjit

We’d like to continue growing and building our team – which is really our strength.  The caliber of people and skills sets we offer, sets us apart. Our mix of people with communications and political backgrounds is also unique.

We’ve found that if you establish your reputation and a network that knows the quality of your work and personal integrity –  this generally translates into your first and best clients. 99% of our business and clients come from personal referrals. Word of mouth really is very powerful and not being afraid to ask all those people that you know for a meeting or opportunity is key. Relationships are critical. Our clients often become our biggest supporters. Many have enjoyed being part of what we’re building.

Having partners that bring different things to the table made all the difference. I had worked in the sector for a decade prior both as an independent and as part of a PR firm.  The three of us together have three times the network, different skills to market to our clients and most of all – we encourage each other and keep ourselves motivated to keep pushing. When you’re in that kind of a team where you have people to bounce ideas off of, you can help each other with things that would otherwise be daunting to do alone.

7.) Any tips on how you select the people in your team? What are some of the most important qualities you look for? – Karman

Generally, we’ve leaned towards people who like us, have backgrounds in media and government, as most of our work draws on our expertise in these areas.  As we’ve grown, we’ve also added people who have specialties in other areas.  We find people through our networks, we are attracted to people who deliver results, and that we genuinely like to work with.

8.) How important is diversity to your company and do you use your platform to promote it? Why should companies prioritize this? – Naomi

Diversity is something that is very much a part of who we are as individuals and has been ingrained in our company since day one. We definitely champion it at any opportunity we can. We know our team and the varied experience and perspectives it brings to the table is of great value to our clients and in delivering the best results. It also fosters a wonderful workplace atmosphere.

 When we looked across the landscape of who runs companies like ours – there weren’t many (barely any), with a leadership team that was as diverse as ours.  Fortunately, that’s changing and that’s a really good thing. 

9.) Any final advice to other female founders out there on growing their business? Why is it important to support women entrepreneurs? – Sarbjit

Work with good people. Whether that’s your partners, your team, your clients or your customers. Support other women because whatever you put out there will come back to you and you’ll get that network and support when you need it. Women really are very powerful when they come together and often have a different perspective of what we want out of the business. Having people around who share and understand those goals takes away the pressure of other peoples’ expectations and traditional measures of “success”. It really can feel more like an exciting and fun journey than work.


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