We had the good fortune of connecting with Victoria Amato Kennedy and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Victoria, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work-Life Balance has been quite interesting, especially over the past year! In addition to my Morse Code jewelry business, Morse & Mantra, I started a second jewelry “experiment” called clAyVA (named after my three-year-old daughter, Ava) (Instagram @clayva.jewelry) – where I make lightweight polymer clay earrings (mostly). The clAyVA endeavor has tapped into a forgotten side of my artistic and creative nature in a way I had never expected, and I have such a fun time doing both jewelry lines. The sentimental nature of Morse & Mantra, and the artistic/tactile/colorful nature of clAyVA are both very fulfilling in different ways. And since I still work as a freelance marketing consultant, and my toddler doesn’t attend childcare because of Covid-19, it’s been quite a balancing act to keep it all organized and flowing smoothly! My husband, who is active duty Air Force and works long hours, is always supportive and helpful as much as possible with keeping the kiddos occupied if I need a few quiet workshop hours throughout the week… even into late hours of the night. But truth be told, I thrive on the hustle so much that, at the end of the day, exhausted and all, I almost always feel excited and proud of what we are able to accomplish in a day, a week, a month… and so on! Balance means being happy with all you have going on… And when I find that I’m not happy, or I’m feeling burnt out with all the moving parts, I usually take a step back from marketing my own brands first, and allow myself a break from the customer-service-first pace that I’ve set for myself and the brands I represent! 

What should our readers know about your business?
When I finally decided to establish an LLC for my businesses, I had to think long and hard about what could encompass both my freelance marketing work AND my insatiable desire to keep creating, artistically. I decided to add “creative” to my LLC’s naming convention, because I felt it covered both my marketing work, (which caters to the small business “Food, Beverage, Hospitality, Service and Anything ‘Artsy’ Industries”) and to my jewelry design businesses. Breaking into freelance marketing was partly a result of being a military-spouse, and having to uproot every one to three years over the past decade +.  I had worked in service/hospitality management and marketing manager/director capacities in the wine industry in California and beyond for years before branching out to freelance marketing for small local businesses. That leap into working for myself continues to be one of the most rewarding decisions of my life! I’m thrilled by the personal interaction with local small businesses, and my passion really does lie in showcasing the beauty and art of great food and wine and outstanding service and hospitality (did I mention that I’m from the New Orleans area? Those passions are definitely culturally ingrained!)

I’ve learned that it’s important to take your time to figure out and define what you are good at and what you are passionate about… If you enjoy working in those industries….service, hospitality, art, customer-service, etc… and you ever feel that it’s somehow “not enough,” think again! Those industries have taught me so much about myself and others, and helped chart my course in ways that I wasn’t particularly able to see in the hustle-bustle of the day-to-day. My advice is to have faith in yourself and start to map out what you want to do with your skills and fascinations. Then start working towards it one step at a time. Make connections, have conversations, let people know what you want to do, be vulnerable and unafraid of failure/embarrassment, because ONE DAY something will stick, and you’ll be right on your way….

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.
Funny you should ask… We had the pleasure of hosting my best friend of over 17 years, Johnette, for the month of July! Johnette and I were roommates at LSU, and this summer was the longest amount of time we had spent together since graduating so many years ago. I was so excited to show her (and myself!) around Colorado Springs, and beyond. We spent some time discovering Garden of the Gods and enjoyed the views and “hidden” reservoirs of Pikes Peak! We ate, almost every weekend, at Bonny & Read Seafood in downtown Colorado Springs because the food and drinks are consistently outstanding, and the service and dedication to cleanliness is always exceptional. We probably enjoyed a bit too much ice cream from Frozen Gold in downtown (but we’re both self-declared ice cream snobs, and theirs is the BEST soft serve in the Springs. We shopped at Eclectic Co., Terra Verde, and several locally-owned boutiques in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs! We frequented Coaltrain Wine & Spirits way too much! We enjoyed the outdoor summer music series at the fantastically-eclectic Hillside Gardens! We traveled to Georgetown, CO and enjoyed the lake, the small restaurants, Guanella Pass and the Georgetown Loop Railroad. And had it been open before she’d left, we most certainly would have frequented the freshly-opened C.O.A.T.I. Uprise warehouse dining + retail + celebration space on Tejon St. in Colorado Springs.    

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Hands down, I owe so much of my “revived” artistic and creative ambition to Peri Bolts (founder + co-owner) and Ani Trejo Barrington (co-owner) of Eclectic Co. in both downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City. Eclectic Co. (shopeclecticco.com) is a local co-op boutique that was established about two years ago to serve as a retail space for local artists, makers, activists and curators. But it is SO MUCH more than a retail space. For me, it has served as an incubator for creativity and a means to friendship and collaboration with other local artists. It has become one of my favorite places to be… From interacting with customers from Colorado and far beyond, to feeling a continual sense of awe at what other’s minds and hands can make, Eclectic is a gift that my soul didn’t even know it needed. Peri and Ani are two of the strongest, most supportive and innovative “go-getter” women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Whether they understand it or not, the people they host in the co-op (young and old, all genders, people of all backgrounds and ethnicities) look up to them in almost a mother-hen kind of way. They treat us all with such dignity and respect, and they honor, celebrate and encourage our crafts and individual creativities in the most amazing ways. It’s nice to have cheerleaders like that when you’re a small business with so many other things going on. They are considerate and kind and fair in their support and guidance – all the things that make small businesses thrive, and succeed, and want to work harder for their communities!

Website: morseandmantra.com
Instagram: @MorseAndMantra @clayva.jewelry
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorseAndMantra | https://www.facebook.com/clAyVA.Jewelry
Other: morseandmantra@gmail.com VAK.winemarketing@gmail.com

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