We had the good fortune of connecting with Maura Kelpy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maura, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance is an interesting concept — there’s always a slight wiggle to maintain the balance. My goal is to work to live, not live to work, but it’s an ongoing process. I try to prioritize my health first and foremost (we only get one body in this lifetime!) and my personal relationships. After those two, I ride the wave of freelance and work hard when I need to and play hard when the opportunities arise. I also learned years ago that I had to set hours for my business and recognize what times of day I’m most productive. When I first started freelancing, I’d answer emails at all hours and days of the week. Now I focus on a typical work week schedule and put my laptop away over the weekend. When a large deadline is approaching, I’ll hunker down with bars of dark chocolate and do the work, no matter what it takes. But when the workload is lighter, I’ll make sure I spend extra time outside and doing other non work-related activities to help refuel for the next crunch time.
I also used to not be able to handle the slow times – I was scared the work wouldn’t return! So instead of taking advantage of the break, I’d stare at my computer and stress about when the next project or client would head my way. It’s taken some trust in the process, but I’ve learned that there is a natural ebb and flow to freelance work and now I embrace the changes in pace and make sure I take advantage of the time to play.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What do I want the world to know? That I’m here to help! As a graphic designer, I love that I’m able to help my clients visually communicate their message and bring their vision to life. I work hard to make sure every project ends with a happy client and that the process building to that final draft is efficient and fun. I pride myself on providing professional design services while also being a solid communicator as I guide my clients along their creative journey.
However, becoming the business owner and freelance creative I am today was somewhat serendipitous. After graduating with a Graphic Design degree, I needed a break from all the time in the studio. My life after college became a combination of working in the restaurant industry and doing small freelance graphic design projects, while trying to travel as much as possible. Over time, those small projects became big projects and I had referrals and return work coming in like crazy. I had somehow created a full-time gig working for myself and no longer had time for jobs in restaurants (although I still love designing for them). Once I saw the opportunity in front of myself, I buckled down and focused on building my business.
One lesson I’ve learned along the way – if I want something different for my life or business, I need to do something different! Even though I had steady return work and referrals, my best and most fulfilling work happens when I create for companies that promote positivity in the world. With that realization, I put in the effort and started networking, going to tradeshows and self-promoting (even while sharing a ski lift with a stranger). It paid off with clients in the outdoor, health and wellness, travel and hospitality industries including Osprey Packs, Four Sigmatic, Skratch Labs, Fresh Thymes Eatery, RepYourWater and Boulder Nordic Sport.
Probably one of my biggest lessons has also been one of my biggest challenges. Whenever I’m trying to figure out which direction to go next with my business, I realize no path I chose will always be easy. I just have to decide it’s the path I’ve currently chosen and commit to moving forward. Then I take the ups with the downs and practice perseverance, patience and serious gratitude for what I have accomplished and for the life I’m lucky enough to live.
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.
I joke that I love playing tour guide when a friend visits, but I really do enjoy showing off Colorado’s awesome culture! My “tour guide” itinerary always involves as much time in the mountains as the visitor can handle. I love showing people the spectacular views that are easily accessible from Trail Ridge Road. If they’re up for it, I’ll take them on a hike at Wild Basin, Brainard Lake or Button Rock Reservoir. Or, if they’re fellow mountain bikers, an afternoon at Hall Ranch is always a good time! If water sports are more their jam, paddleboarding at Union Reservoir with Rocky Mountain Paddleboard is another favorite.
After we’ve taken in lots of fresh air and expanded our lungs, I’ll usually park in downtown Longmont and walk with visitors around the local shops, breweries and restaurants. A few of my must-see places downtown include Cheese Importers, St. Vrain Cidery and the best taco experience around at Jefe’s Tacos and Tequila. (The style and art alone is worth a visit!) And if we are venturing farther north to explore Fort Collins or Cameron Pass, a stop at City Star Brewing in Berthoud is a must!
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?
So many people have guided or supported me along the way. I’m forever grateful for that long list of friends, colleagues, books and online resources. A few in particular do stand out – my husband and my parents. My Dad’s true entrepreneurial and adventurous spirit is deeply embedded in my genes along with my Mom’s social and communicative nature (I think I also snagged some of her top-notch accountant and organizational skills too). I feel incredibly lucky for their ongoing support and encouragement, even when I chose a less traditional path.
Without my husband by my side, this entrepreneurial journey would be a lot harder. He constantly listens, supports, steps in to help and just freaking cheers me on at every junction. He’s an insanely talented high school teacher and thus my role model for being a positive and considerate human being helping to make the world a better place. We’re each other’s biggest fans and favorite adventure buddies. So thankful we found each other!
Emily Sierra on all images except the mountain biking photo.