We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, what is the most important factor behind your success?
For me it has always been follow up and communication. That is something that I look for in almost anything I do, whether it be hiring someone to do work at my home, medical communication, or just in a relationship (friendship, partnership & family). If someone contacts me for work, I am going to follow up. Let them know, A. Can I do what you’re asking? and B. When can I start and hope to complete this task. Then throughout the project I am going to communicate as much as I can every step of the way of what and when I can deliver, things I need from them, and also to discuss any issues or ‘bumps in the road’ that come up. It’s important to communicate whether it be good or bad so at least everyone knows where we stand on the project. I have heard from many of my clients that they appreciate the follow up and communication and it actually pushes them to deliver things sooner or think through some ideas and concepts that they hadn’t originally thought of.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I moved out to Colorado at the end of 2008 from Kansas City, Missouri. It was not an easy time to try and get hired as a creative, as most companies were cutting those jobs during that time. I wanted to stay in Colorado, so I got a job as a server/bartender to allow me to sustain a living and stay in wonderful Colorado. Being in the service industry, as I have been throughout my life, was an important stepping stone in me actually starting and cultivating my business because I was able to connect with people through the job. You can only hear “we need a logo” so many times during someones conversation on the other side of the bar before you interject yourself and say, “Hey, I can do that for you!”. Through that practice of being in front of people I was able to put myself out there more, not be (too) afraid of someone saying no, and to most importantly follow up when someone told you to reach out to them. As more freelance work came in, I had to scale back from serving and bartending to focus more on my projects, until there became a time where I needed to commit to my new business and quit working in the industry to focus on my clients I had acquired. It was not easy as I realized that my wonderful regulars and service industry tips really help to offset some of the costs of being a sole freelancer and not always having steady work coming in each month. Keeping track of the finances and the ebbs and flows of the job made it easier each year to know when some months might get a little quiet, and if it’s too quiet, how to I find work? Referrals have been 95% of my clientele growth and I am so grateful to each and every person who has given my name out. Also I realized that working from home full time was not what I was cut out for. I had recently picked up a job part time at a brewery before covid, and just loved getting back in front of people and turning my brain on in a different way than I usually do when I am working on a project. Not to mention, just working at the brewery helped gain me even more clients. I am just proud that I have continued to stick it out and just not give up even when things are slow. I have always been someone who never just has one job, so I am always willing to learn something new, pour some beers, work at a festival, hone in on some long lost arts and crafts skills, whatever I need to do to keep busy and sustain a living out here. I think what I would want people to know about my story is that I love working with people. I love creating something or just being part of something that can help increase awareness of their brand, their idea, their mission. At the end of the day I want them to be happy with what I have helped them create because it isn’t just me doing the creating, I need them and their ideas to help develop their concept.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh man this is an easy but tough one all the same. My husband and I live over in Wheat Ridge, just west of Sloan’s Lake so we get a nice mix of closeness to the city and also hitting up some of the secret gems over here in our neighborhood. My suggestions would be very food based with some good walking in between. For breakfast: Rise and Shine Biscuit Cafe: Biscuit breakfast sandwich, Hatteras (which is a biscuit cinnamon roll, drool), and a nice salty hash brown patty, set for the day! Bonfire Burritos: Located in Golden, but slinging the best breakfast burritos I’ve ever had. Keep it simple and delicious with just a classic burrito. Stylus and Crate: WAFFLE-COFFEE-VINYL. Love to hit this place up for just a little sweet treat. Grab a cortado and liege waffle (brioche dough with pearled sugar, drool again) and you’re set for a nice little morning pick me up! For lunch: Tacos Junior: There are a few locations off the beaten path, and they have hands down the best chicken tinga in town. Snarfs: My husband and I grab this tasty treat a lot. A toasted Italian sub with all the fixin’s, or the Artichoke & Feta with all the fixin’s. Just get all the fixin’s because it’s delicious. Ohana Island Kitchen: Simple, clean, delicious. Shoyu Poke, Kale salad, and a canned iced coffee. This is our favorite summer time, anytime, lunchtime indulgence. For dinner: Duo: For something a little more ‘fancy’. Their menu is ever changing and has been a staple for me and my husband as a go to date night spot because it’s always so quaint and delicious. Yak and Yeti Arvada: Beers, Tikki, Naan, nuf said. Deli Italia: Love picking up one of their amazingly delicious pizzas, a salad, and scooping up one of their desserts (made to order filled cannoli) to take home for a casual but delicious take away dinner. Honorable Mention: Brassiere Brixton. Went there right before everything really shut down, and had the most amazing French inspired meal. The ambiance, the food, the drink, the french hip hop, it was quite a treat! Between all the eating we would definitely hit up some close to town walks/hikes. Spots include: Roxborough State Park, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, or Belmar Park. As I mentioned I love a good brewery, some of my favorites include: Oasis Brewing, Odell in RINO or (Sloan’s Lake when it opens!), or Epic Brewing. Nightlife: Check out some live jazz and tasty cocktails at Nocturne, or just stroll down Larimer St. in the RINO area and enjoy the murals, pop into the local shops and grab food and drink from the area breweries, wineries, distilleries, and restaurants and food trucks that are along the way.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband Kael Smith deserves a lot of recognition for my success, and mainly my sanity. I have the self owned habit of never stopping working, and he helps to ground me and supports my need to just follow up or finish one last thing before I turn the computer off for the night.
Robbie Conaway – RC Pop Art