Founder, J.Nichole Smith

J Nichole Smith Founder Animalhaus media


My name is J.Nichole Smith, but you can call me Nic. I am thrilled you’ve found your way to Animalhaus! If you’re a pet photographer, pet brand, marketer, or art buyer in the pet space, I can confidently say you’re going to find something here that makes your life, brand, or project better.

I have been on the cutting edge of the pet industry for over a decade. I have watched new brands launch and thrive (like many of those I interviewed for my book the Million Dollar Dog Brand), but I’ve also seen hundreds, perhaps thousands more… never get off the ground, or launch and fail. Anyone who has spent anytime building a business understands why… that sh*t is hard!!

As I’ve worked to uncover my true passion and purpose in this beautiful, fleeting life, I’ve discovered one very important truth: I was born to help entrepreneurs find freedom and fulfilment by building brands instead of just businesses. Petpreneurs in particular hold a special place in my heart, because let’s face it, the pet industry and its quirky, devoted, creative people is uniquely spectacular.

This project, Animalhuas, is the perfect synthesis of the many moving parts of my career and expertise. I built it to bring the artists and content creators in the pet industry together with pet brands, because together we are stronger.

Nicole Begley

Photographer, Educator, & Conservationist

Hey there, I’m Nicole, and I’m one half of the dynamic “Nicole” duo here at Animalhaus HQ. My journey in the pet industry started as a zoological animal trainer, where I worked with all sorts of creatures, from primates to free-flight birds, penguins to seals, and even aardvarks and sloths.

Since then, I’ve turned my love for animals into pet photography, founding Nicole Begley Photography in 2010, which now serves the Charlotte, NC area. In 2014, I started the Hair of the Dog Academy, helping pet photographers turn their passion into profit by building successful pet photography businesses. I’m also the author of the best-selling Pet and Equine Photography for Everyone book, which has helped thousands of aspiring pet photographers jumpstart their careers.

In 2021, I founded the Hair of the Dog Conservation Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to protect global biodiversity and inspire individual action through conservation projects for wild animals and their surrounding communities. As someone who’s passionate about the natural world, it’s a cause close to my heart.

Being part of the Animalhaus team is a perfect fit for me. As someone who’s obsessed with systems and streamlining, I’m excited to help bring together the pet industry’s artists with pet brands. Animalhaus brings all of my expertise and experience full circle, and I’m thrilled to help you find the perfect images for your brand messaging while also helping the pet photography community earn the recognition and income they deserve for their incredible work.