We had the good fortune of connecting with Mandy Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mandy, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When we started Gallery On The Go my kids were 8 and 10, now they’re 18 and 20. I loved the flexibility of the business when they were younger because I worked from home, could volunteer at school when I wanted, and could choose when I wanted to do parties. But it also felt like I was working all the time. I remember my son calling me out on it one time and I got pretty defensive. And then I realized it only hurt because it was true. I thought I was doing this great circus act of balancing it all, but all he saw was me sitting in front of my computer all the time. So I had to be more mindful of setting clear work boundaries. It helps that I am a night owl so I would “close shop” when they got home from school, spend the evenings with them, and then after they went to bed I would plug in. And I actually found that those late hours are when I’m actually at my best. With no phones ringing and email pinging. So I would work from about 9 to midnight. Probably not the best idea but it worked for us. But of course as they got older that became less of an issue because they were out with friends and doing their activities. My Aunt always says “you can have everything you want, just not all at the same time” and that has always stuck with me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Most interesting I think here is that I am NOT an artist, but I teach people how to paint. Weird, huh? My degree is in Construction Management and I worked for a large General Contractor out of college. I love to tell the story how in college I paid a classmate a case of beer to do my final drawing project because I seriously could not draw. I quit my job to stay home with the kids when they were younger and shortly after my best friend started Gallery On The Go. I was skeptical for sure but I figured why not. I joined in the fun and now 10 years later I have guided 1000s of parties! And while I still don’t think of myself as an artist, I’m a pretty good painter! I wouldn’t say it was easy, but as with anything practice makes perfect. I would practice my sample painting 3 or 4 times before guiding it at a party, and now I can practically paint samples in my sleep. I look back at some of my earlier paintings and think how in the world did people pay me to teach them how to paint?! They were awful! But I think it just goes to show business is all about relationships and customer service, and I am really good at both! I love people and have a servant heart so that made up for my lack of painting skills!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in the burbs so I often feel like a tourist in my own city! In fact our family goal this summer is to get downtown more often because I love the vibe of the City! But here’s my best stab at a weeklong CO itinerary! Day 1) Union Station. It’s one of my most favorite places in Denver. I love to take the train downtown and just sit and pretend to be fancy! I love the history and the grandeur of the building. We’d have brunch at Snooze, check out the bookshop and then hop on whatever train is headed to the mountains! Day 2) Horse and buggy ride around downtown. We have such a beautiful downtown! And then that night take in a show at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. Another one of my fave places to feel fancy! Dinner before at Sam’s #3 and then dessert after at The Office! Day 3) Hiking in Boulder. Or Red Rocks. Or Glenwood Springs. Or Rocky Mountain National Park (I’m assuming we’re just magically hopping from place to place and I don’t have to account for the logistics of travel!). We lived in CO for a few years before we learned about hiking. I’m from Oklahoma and people don’t hike there. I thought hiking was just another work for walking until we did our first CO hike and became hooked! Day 4) Rafting (I’m pretending it’s summer!). I am not much of a daredevil, in fact I am afraid of pretty much everything. But for some reason rafting doesn’t scare me – even though I know people die every year doing it and it is in fact pretty risky. I love the rush of rafting and in another life want to come back as a raft guide! Day 5) Estes Park – because no trip to CO is complete without it! We’d eat at that resort overlooking the lake and then tear it up on ATVs! Day 6) The Gaylord! Lounging by the pool with cocktails – yes please! Day 7) Tea at the Brown Palace followed by massages after a fun and whirlwind week! PS – I just realized the prompt says favorite spots in the “city”…..and most of my activities are in fact not in the city. But like I said – I have a lot of exploring to do down there myself!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am blessed with amazing friends and family so it’s hard to choose (not a bad problem to have!), but if you’re going to make me pick just one it would be my Ya-Ya group. A Ya-Ya group is defined as: A group of 3 or more women whose hearts and souls are joined by laughter and tears shared through the glorious journey of life. I’ve known the ladies in my Ya-Ya group for 10+ years. We used to work together at Gallery On The Go (we called our office Party Headquarters or PHQ for short!). We went through a big shift in our business a few years ago and closed our office. It just didn’t make sense to keep the office with our new business model, but we were sad we weren’t going to see each other every day. So we get together once a month and catch up. Sometimes we go out but usually we just crash one of our homes and have bad junk food and cocktails. We talk, vent, laugh, cry, cheer, celebrate, eat….#GirlfriendTherapy is the BEST therapy! And we have our Ya-Ya Facebook group chat because we can’t go a month without talking! We check in about every day just to say hi and see what everyone is up too.