#014: Kelly Mazanti

Updated: Mar 26


Kelly is the Founder & CEO of Pier Collective, a high-altitude design studio based in Breckenridge, Colorado building modern brands for globally-minded entrepreneurs.


Kelly grew up in the Pacific Northwest - South Puget Sound in Washington State to be exact - and obtained her BS in Business Administration from The University of Colorado Boulder. She was excited to make Colorado her home, and takes advantage of all the outdoor activities that beautiful Colorado has to offer. Kelly skis, mountain bikes and does pretty much anything that involves experiencing the outdoors and ‘sending it.’


In December 2020, Kelly launched her own podcast, “Send It with Kelly Mazanti,” where she interviews entrepreneurs who are facing challenges and going “all in” in their businesses.


KELLY'S LINKS:

Pier Collective Website

Link to Kelly's Podcast: Send It Podcast with Kelly Mazanti

Kelly's Facebook

Kelly's Instagram

Kelly's LinkedIn

Transcribed Episode: Ep14 Kelly Mazanti


[Voiceover]

You're listening to The Groove with Devin Pense.


[Host]

Hey, what's up, everybody? Welcome back to The Groove Podcast, and on today's show, I have a very special guest, as I always say, Kelly Mazanti. Kelly, welcome to The Groove Podcast.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Thanks for having me Devin! I'm so excited to be on this podcast with you today. I think we talked about this the day you started podcasting. So here we are, what, a year or so later, more than that?


[Host]

It seems like it, it seems like it. It's been a long time, but yeah it was early on and which we'll get into later and you were in some transitional phases, and you're like “Hey, can we just, let's just do this another time,” and I'm like, oh, there will always be another time. So here we are. So let's start off today, just real quickly, can you just kind of give everybody a little bit of background, and we're going to talk about business and personal because it's all about the groove. You know, it all has to kind of vibe together. But let's start with the business side. Tell everybody kind of what you do, what you have going on, and that kind of thing.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Sounds good. Well, first of all, this is the first time I have been a guest on someone else's podcast, and I'm super honored and excited Devin that you have me on The Groove, and second of all, I just am working on releasing my own podcast that you and your wife Michelle are helping me with for my business, which is Pier Collective. So I'm super excited to announce that release. It's called “Send It.”.


So yes, like I said, My business is Pier Collective, and I started in 2017 while I was living in Hermosa Beach, California. Now I'm actually living just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado at about 10,000 feet, where I'm sitting right now recording this, and today, Pier Collective is a branding studio. So we design brands, and we rebrand brands that have been around for 30 plus years, and I love doing it. Design is a huge part of my life, in my lifestyle, from the clothes that I love to the aesthetic around me in my home, and the products I interact with. So I love helping other people bring their brands to life and showcase the person behind the brand.


[Host]

That's awesome. So as far as your approach, and you're kind of your core business, it seems like it's you know, when when someone says “we're a brand studio or I help, or we help rebrand people.” I mean, that's such a broad spectrum, because do people come to you like “Hey, listen, I've got major problems, we want to kind of start over?” Or do they come to you with like, “Hey, can you help me with rebranding my website or rebranding?” “Help me with my PR work?” What? Do you have any niches? Or are you kind of just a holistic approach?


[Kelly Mazanti]

So it's a really interesting question, because it kind of runs the gamut, and at first, when I started in 2017, I was really trying to serve everyone because I thought, just like everyone thinks, if you niche down early, you won't be able to serve anyone, and in fact, it's the opposite.


So what I found now is that I really love working directly with founders. So it doesn't matter how big the business is, as long as I'm working with the person who owns and operates the business. That's what I care about, and the reason is, is because they make fast decisions. They're also really intuitive about what they want and what their values are personally and for their business.


So I would say the easiest person, the easiest client I have is the person that comes to me saying, I'm launching this product, and we've got the tech down, and we've got the whole product prototype down. But we don't have a brand, we don't have a visual identity. We don't know what we look like on social media. We've started developing the website from the back end, but we don't really know what we're supposed to look like, and how that's going to complement the product we are releasing.


So on the flip side, there's people who have been in business for 10 to 30 yearsm that kind of runs the spectrum, and they may not know that they need a rebrand. So that takes a little bit more of a discussion and identifying what their pain points are and really where they're stuck. Because the reality is, we're all living and breathing, whether we're a person or a brand. And so in order to have a brand that can move with you as you evolve and change over time, it's natural to have to go through these cycles of refreshing your identity, which is what I like to call a rebrand.


[Host]

Got you. So you got to start with living in breathing. So we'll start with breathing, and then just kind of work down, that's your magical kind of power triangle.


[Kelly Mazanti]

It’s like a chicken in the egg. If you don't live, you're not breathing, but if you're not breathing, you probably won't live. You know?


[Host]

Oh, let's just sit on that for a second. So question then, you like working with founders, I do too, I do a lot of consulting and that kind of stuff. You're right, they make the quick decision. How do you navigate the process if you run into a gatekeeper? You land a client, and I understand most of the smaller clients and brands, it's going to be easier to get to the founder or whatever. What happens when you run into somebody that's like the founder “hey, yeah, thumbs up on paying for it, we need to rebrand, but your point person's gonna be Joe Schmo. Joe...here's Kelly.”


[Kelly Mazanti]

“Hi, Joe.” I don't have time to talk to you.


[Host]

Joe's like “Oh I don’t know Kelly, you know Kelly, I’ve got a friend…” You know, he’s got a friend that he doesn't tell you about that does branding.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Everybody has a friend that will design their website for free and do some branding work Devin!


[Host]

So how do you overcome that? How do you overcome gatekeepers like that? That's what I'll call them.


[Kelly Mazanti]

All right. Well, this is so funny, because you know, before I met you...so okay, Devin and I met in Los Angeles, “L.A.” I had just left my corporate job in Seattle and moved to California. My goal was, I'm going to work for a startup in a more creative industry, like fashion or something. Well, that did not happen. No one wanted to hire me, because my background was in b2b, corporate sales, and also in product management for technology and software. I was like, No, I'm a creative person. I want to do creative work.


[Host]

So you were kind of pigeonholed? As far as your skill set, or that's how you feel? Because I feel the same in my space as well.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Totally.


[Host]

That’s a tough place to be huh?


[Kelly Mazanti]

It was so frustrating Devin, I felt like I had taken this big risk to come down here. I knew I could be a valuable asset to any small business or a startup, just with having that structure. The reason this is all related to the gatekeeper question is because nobody really talks about gatekeepers in a small business or as an entrepreneur, but when you're doing b2b sales, or even b2c sales, gatekeepers are all around you all the time. And it's the number one thing you learn about cold calling. I don't think it's talked about enough with entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out, how do I get the right audience and tell them what value I have to offer with my product or my service.


So the reality is gatekeepers are in your life every day in your business, but also in your personal life. What I've learned is to be confident about what I have to offer. In certain cases, where it's unlike corporate life, I'm not trying to get a quota of how many leads I got from cold calling. So I will just walk away at this point. If somebody doesn't see the value that I have to deliver, after I've shown my work and explain what I do, and what I think I could do to be useful in their business, I kind of just honestly move on.


That's been the biggest change between when I started just over two years ago, and where I'm at today is just having the confidence of knowing your value and knowing your worth, and not wasting your time with people who have a friend who does something for free.


[Host]

That takes a ton of discipline to do by the way, when you're an entrepreneur, small business, every penny counts, every job counts. It takes a ton of time and a lot of discipline to walk away from a project. We've talked about this before, but doing what I've done for so many years, as well, I never would say no, I would take on all these projects. Over the course of my career, I woke up, literally, this was in the middle of the night from not sleeping. I just realized I've allowed so many people in my life to direct my career path. If I was really honest, and the choices that were taken away from me by the desire, or the need, or that reassurance I should say to “Oh, I got a job,” “Oh, somebody wants to hire me.” By taking every single job even though you look at a job and everything they're telling you about the project, everything inside your gut, in your head, it's yelling, RED FLAG, RED FLAG, but you take it anyways. Then that's like the worst thing. So I can highly commend you for being able to walk away because a lot of times people, they respect that to the point of like, “Hey, whoa, whoa whoa, we really like you! What can we do to rework this kind of thing?”


[Kelly Mazanti]

Absolutely. Well, Devin, you are one of the first people who in my journey of actually starting a business and being a business owner, actually, you were one of the first people who validated that for me and basically told me “You know that you're valuable, and you're worth a lot, and you should walk away from things that aren't the right fit.” Basically, without those words, you pretty much told me that. We used to have lots of just like heart to heart conversations about our journey and what's going on and how business is going. It is terrifying.


So I don't want to sugarcoat it and make people feel like, oh yeah, it's just a really easy thing to do. You just have some confidence, and then you just walk away. Then people say, “Wait, I really want to work with you.”


The reality is, when you can figure out where to get the kind of confidence that you do develop from having paying clients that do value what you have to offer. If you can sort of like put that cart before the horse before you actually get to that point, and fake it a little bit.


[Host]

Yeah, fake it til you make it.


[Kelly Mazanti]

You really have to! People will find a way to work with you if you're not desperate. Also if they see the value, and maybe they don't have the budget that you require, they will scrounge up pennies from their aunts and uncles to come back to you and say “I'm ready. Now let's do this.” So that’s what I learned.


[Host]

You'll actually take money from poor aunts and uncles?


[Kelly Mazanti]

They will, my boyfriend's one of them. He's like, “I'm gonna start this business, I need some help.” Guess what, people believe in you, and they're gonna help you. Four years, five years later, he's developed an amazing business that has afforded him a lifestyle where we both live. It’s pretty amazing. I think that's the other part of it, you do have to surround yourself with the right people and just say goodbye to people who are not worth your time and energy, because especially during this phase of business, when you're starting something new, even in the first three to five years, that's still new I would say, you can you can't afford to be around anyone who's not going to support your vision.


[Host]

No. We've talked at length about that. In fact, I've told you this before...recently as part of this sort of reawakening, I'm doing some shifting my own business. You really take a look at people that's around you, and who are these people, typically, you kind of look at your business opportunities as a group of people. Here's all my contacts on LinkedIn, right? You kind of scroll through them, or you look through them.


I've got a friend, I’m going to have on the podcast at some point, and he's super sharp. His whole philosophy with LinkedIn is, and he's adamant about it, he's like “Listen, if I haven't had a face to face conversation with you, I will not connect with you on LinkedIn.” That's just his philosophy.


Now, a lot of people just go out and they use it as a connecting thing, but he takes it very seriously. At some point, you kind of reach that threshold of getting all kinds of spam mail and that kind of thing. When you surround yourself with people, and you start asking yourself, ‘I've known this guy, this person for 20 years, 15 years, we've done business in the past, and he's a nice person, whatever, but what value is he really bringing into my life today?’



[Kelly Mazanti]

Right.


[Host]

I kind of started doing this little mind map thing. About as much as I hate to say, it makes you sound like a Scrooge.


[Kelly Mazanti]

No, you're not, you’re furthest from it.


[Host]

I'm actually starting to weed people out of my stratosphere, and make some changes. I even got, for the first time in years - I did this years ago, and it helped - but for the first time in years, I got a different phone, separate phone from my business. I have a completely new phone number that, right now there's only like two people that have it. You’ve got the number…


[Kelly Mazanti]

Woo!


[Host]

...I haven't even kind of gone out because I'm still going through the process. It’s something to take very seriously, anytime you start - I'm certainly not going to call it burning bridges - anytime you start sort of calling out the people that are actually bringing value to your life, and people that you can bring value to, and actions speak louder than anything.


You've lived in LA and that's kind of the quintessential town of the slick willies of “Oh, yeah, I can do this. I can get you in this agent. Oh, yeah, I've done this and I've done that.” Then you go back and look at their…


[Kelly Mazanti]

Oh gosh…


[Host]

...history or whatever, and the last thing they did was When Harry Met Sally, they were like a grip or something.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I would have been proud if I was in anything like that, you know, but that's like, come on guys, move on.


[Host]

Yeah, but I wouldn't be talking about like if it were 19 or 25 years ago.


[Kelly Mazanti]

That’s like the football team. ‘I was on the high school football team and I was a quarterback and now I'm 50.’


[Host]

It’s Uncle Rico!


[Kelly Mazanti]

I'm living my glory days every single year because nothing better has happened in my life.’


[Host]

When you do that and you reach out to someone and say, ‘Look, you know, here's what I've done. I really feel like you bring value to my life.’ I think that that even ups and strengthens the foundation and opens up new possibilities. We've talked about this before, I might not have a project for them right away, but you just kind of jumped to the forefront of their minds. When something does come up, bingo, the phone starts ringing.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Well, I was gonna say that was you and I. This is the first project we've done together. We've known each other, and I need to write this in front of my forehead because I asked you every time. How many years has it been now? It’s been since 2017…


[Host]

69, 1973..


[Kelly Mazanti]

1975..


[Host]

1862.. Yes.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I’m super old, I have a young voice. So does Devin he never ages.


[Host]

Plus we’re time travelers.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I started to feel that way about you. I was wondering, are we going to work together or are we just going to develop a friendship, because I really valued you.


When I moved to LA, I was suddenly around all these creative people, and people and film, and I just kind of got starstruck because I came from a corporate environment in Seattle, and I was traveling to Boston. So LA was sort of like this eye opening, my God, everyone's so creative, and stylish. And I met you, and you were one of the handful of - and I did meet some wonderful people who are actually dear friends still - and you are one of those people who, you're really down to earth and grounded and didn't stand on this pedestal of, ‘Yes, I do film’ and try to make it this weird, mysterious thing that it isn't. At the end of the day, it's just a job. Like, we all have a job and a profession and a skill set. I think that's cool about what's so cool about you, Devin. You treat it that way, as opposed to this ethereal thing that's out of reach for anyone else.


When we make what we do approachable, just just like an athlete or an actor, it's what you do. It's not necessarily everything about who you are as a person or an individual. It doesn't have to be this exclusive thing where you leave a bunch of people out if they don't know how to do it also.


[Host]

That's very nice for you to say, by the way. Getting back to startups and working with startups and that kind of thing, I've kind of found in the past where there's a couple different types of startups. The ones that get funded, like they have real money...


[Kelly Mazanti]

It’s Monopoly money, Devin, what are you talking about?


[Host]

It’s Monopoly money. The first thing they do is they rent a big nice office in Santa Monica or somewhere cool.


[Kelly Mazanti]

They do cocaine together…


[Host]

Cocaine, strippers, that's the first day, that's day one.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I tried to make my startup like that but it just didn't work out, you know.


[Host]

So there's two types, there's some that are slow to launch, and they've got this big, long runway, so they're comfortable. They've done this before, they know how it works. Then there's others that are like, ‘Oh, my God, we got to get our website up tomorrow, and it doesn't matter how much it costs.’ Those are the kind of the fun ones to kind of bump into, because a) they're not going to take - I'm not saying I'm not saying this about everybody, but a lot of people - they don't take the time, because they don't have the time to go out and interview, 15 designers or directors for their explainer reel.


If you happen to kind of be on their radar, and you get brought into that mix, it's usually a lot of quick decisions. That's the kind of stuff that turns very chaotic at times, and it's just kind of crazy.


Moving forward through the timeline. You’re one of the most driven people I've met. When I say that I mean it's an authentic approach. You don't mess around. There's a lot of people that talk about, ‘Oh, here's what I'm gonna do,’ and then you'll never hear from them again, or if you do hear from him, a couple years later, it's like, ‘whatever happened to that, blah, blah, blah,’ and they're like, ‘Oh, you know…’ But you've been on this sort of, ever since I've known, you've been on a path. You've got this, this sort of resolve to kind of make this work.


You've been through some pivots and all kinds of stuff. What is your approach, what drives you to that point? Is it the desire to succeed, to build multimillion dollar business? Sleep better at night? What drives you?


[Kelly Mazanti]

Millions of Birkin bags. No, I'm kidding. Oh, my gosh, Devin, so funny.


There was something I just recently wrote for Denver magazine, local here. Actually their offices are down in Culver City, in Los Angeles. So I think they started there, and they branched out into some major metropolitan areas. It got me thinking about what was that like, and when was the turning point where I realized, this has to work.


In 2017, I filed for an LLC, and I had a California LLC when I started. When I left my corporate job, I did join a startup that was not in fashion, and it was not creative. I was doing technology, software development for computer vision, if anyone out there knows what that is. Basically all this stuff for your phone camera to be able to interpret information. Super boring, but actually interesting, because I do think technology’s interesting. It just wasn't the kind of change I was hoping to make.


So what I did is take a 50% pay cut from my corporate salary. I went from Seattle to California, pretty much the same living expenses, but 50% pay cut. Then a friend of mine said you should start a business and then you can scale that back up, and just kind of consult for people.


So I thought that sounds great. So I started Pier Collective in November. I was on my way to getting a client that would increase my 50% pay cut by 30% more, so I was getting closer back up to where I left off. The day I signed that contract, the first start-up dropped me because they didn't want me to share them with anyone. So I took a 50% pay cut. Then I took another 50% pay cut, basically, so I was like in the poverty line, pretty much. It was terrifying. I was so scared. I just thought what is rock bottom gonna look like and what the hell am I doing here? This is not the vision I had for moving to California and having a low key beach lifestyle and still rocking it at work. I've always been type A and cared about achieving and being the best at whatever I decide to do, but I did want more of a laid back lifestyle.


Then at a certain point, there came this point where I was still not making that much money, but I had this feeling of control. This is my lifestyle, these are my choices. I no longer feel confined by what they say, where they say I can travel or what hotel I have to stay in on the corporate credit card, and the booking system I have to use to plan my trip.


[Host]

...and the expense reports!


[Kelly Mazanti]

Yes. So I still do that now, because that's a whole other story. I have an awesome financial team that's basically an outsourced CFO, for my business. I take that very seriously. They are a dream. So it's nothing like the corporate jargon, it's just really easy. They work with me on my terms and vice versa.


I just felt this sense of, it was weird. I thought freedom was always about having money to have choices, but what I realized at that point when I almost was financially at rock bottom - which it turns out, that can happen multiple times, it's not just a one time thing - over the years, I've felt like I must be at rock bottom, and then I find a way out. Then you keep getting to this point where you're like how much more leveraged could I be while I'm trying to make it without an investment, or without a business loan.


So there was just something that happened, where I realized no matter how hard it gets, and how scary it is financially, because of the values I grew up with around money, and what I was told was shameful or scary or bad. I was not going to give this up and I was never going back to work for a person again.


[Host]

Which is huge. I tell you there's nothing more freeing than that. Anytime something's new, it's all fun and games. ‘Oh my god, this is gonna be great. Let's do this consulting agreement. Everything's fun.’ At some point in time - this is just my experience, it's control. Whether you're inside a big corporation or whether you're dealing with a start-up founder or anyone that's got chunks and chunks of money, because they have a couple of masks that they can put on. The charming one to kind of get you in the door, and then once you're in the door, start thinking of you as a different person almost. Even though they still respect your skills, and they respect your abilities, then it becomes ‘Wait a second, what are you doing for somebody else?’ Then some consulting agreements and some agreements they have built in “as long as you're consulting with us, you can't consult with anybody else.” That's one of those decision making times you have to make it and look at as well.


[Kelly Mazanti]

My advice for people, really quick, because both experienced this, so it's worth noting. If you're listening to this, and you're considering doing it, have a consulting agreement in place. Hire a real lawyer, not LegalZoom. Please find a lawyer that's local to you and your state. Hire them to write up a consulting agreement for you as an independent contractor, or if you form a corporation or an LLC, do it that way. Try not to wait till you're already in an agreement and don't sign their agreement. Present them with your agreement on your terms that protects you. Set the standard from day one that you are an independent contractor, you don't work for them. I'm talking to people who want to be independent here. They don't have rights to you. The understanding upfront is you're not their only client, or they're not your only client. So that way, when you go get another client, they can't catch wind of that and drop you.


[Host]

Right. When people see the real value in you, and they believe in - because you're always going to get their contract or whatever - don't be afraid to question things in that as well


[Kelly Mazanti]

Redlining, do it, get your lawyer to do it. I didn't know that was a thing, oh, my gosh, Devin. So you come from a corporate background, you sign your name on the dotted line, and you just sign your life away all the time. Never did I ever have any notion that you could say, ‘I don't like these things and the contract, they don't work for me.’ That's called a red line everybody! You put some lines through it, and you'd send it back to them without a signature. These are things they didn't teach me in business school, no one ever mentioned this. I was smart enough to get a mentor who now is my CFO. He actually advised me before he became the CFO for Pier Collective. He’s like, ‘hey, let me look at that contract for you.’ He told me every single red flag of that start-up I joined, and they all came true, but I went for it anyway, because I was desperate at that time.


So I learned a lot, but yes, please, you can look at your contract and disagree with it, and make changes.


[Host]

It’s an experience thing. Over time you learn things, right. A lot of these agreements that you get are agreements that they've had, they’re pre-done agreements, they're boilerplate that they send out to you. So they just throw everything in the bag, and just put your name on it. So it's not like their in-house counsel has crafted an agreement just for you. No, they just pull off an agreement that they've had working off of for years, they're trying to protect themselves as well. They're just going to throw the whole nine yards at you.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Exactly.


[Host]

That's all good advice. Let me ask you, moving forward a little bit. This is about where we're at today, in the space of technology and that kind of thing. There's so much information, there's so much “how to” information out there. I'll give you an example, I do photography as my hobby, but I'm really into it.


[Kelly Mazanti]

You’re really good at it.


[Host]

Well, thank you. I'm probably way too far into it. When you're first starting out, there's so much on the internet, so many “how to” videos, reviews of every kind of camera, every kind of lens, every kind of setting, every kind of anything that you want. It still amazes me that people don't realize that and how much free “how to” information is out there. You can pretty much learn any skill set, I would argue, from cooking to mechanics to, name a category, and there's something out there on YouTube or something that you can watch, study. Let me just exclude any sort of surgery or brain surgery or anything like that, or dentistry especially.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Oh good god.


[Host]

Where do you draw that line between helping somebody for free and kind of mentoring them or giving them information about certain parts of branding? Then where do you draw the line to say, ‘Okay, well, now you’ve got to pay me.’


[Kelly Mazanti]

This is a loaded question, Devin, this is like,a multi-series. This is a whole season's worth of conversation. So can I be creative about how I answer this?


[Host]

Yeah, of course.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Okay, I'll first start out by saying, I consider myself a creative entrepreneur. I'm in the creative space with the fact that I do design work for clients. That’s sort of a blanket term I use “creative entrepreneurs” and other people in that category would be, “graphic designers” who are sort of - which I find there's a lot of solopreneurs, which means they're not like me. I'm trying to grow a business, so that's why you'll see my title is founder and CEO. Some people may laugh at that when I don't have a team of 50 plus people in my company yet, but I'm not trying to be a one woman operation forever. My goal is to hire additional resources and drive the vision for Pier Collective as it grows, and yes, be the face of it, because that is the culture that I want to continue to build. There's lots of solopreneurs who are graphic designers...wedding photographers, anyone in that creative space, I would consider a creative entrepreneur.


So one of the things is DIY, do it yourself, learn everything online. I don't have time to learn everything and grow a business. I finally swallow the pill of, “you're not a graphic designer, and you don't have time to learn.” So guess what, I hire graphic designers.


The way my business works today, Devin, is I don't have any full time employees right now. I have one designer who pretty much runs the show and she's very talented, I love her style. I've worked with her for over a decade. Actually, I imported rooftop tents with my brother and my dad, from China, for a while before we knew what - REI didn't even sell them yet. Tepui and CVT, those weren't even really around when we were doing this, but we didn't know what we were doing, so she developed our logo for us at the time.


It's so funny that now she's my designer, she's amazing. She's in Denver, Colorado. But my goal is to scale that and hire more designers who I can train.


The thing that I've learned, especially in the last six months, really just through this whole time of COVID and being like ‘oh my God, what is my business and how am I going to stay afloat and make money when everything has changed.’ Everyone can design, there's so many designers out there, they are a dime a dozen. Everyone's style is different. So there are no secrets, because it really is dependent on how people apply what they can learn through the knowledge that's available, whether it's free or paid. So that's the first thing is finding a designer who fits the style and aesthetic. Like ours is modern, minimal, high-end. That's the design. That's the type of design that Pier Collective does: modern, minimal, high-end. I'm not trying to do kitschy stuff. I'm not trying to do b2b brands, I don't want to do that because that's not the type of work I want to show.


Then the other thing that I've learned is, there literally are no secrets. Everything is available online, the only secret is in your process. Having the best process and the best client experience is what sets you apart and what keeps the word of mouth spreading and has referrals coming in to you where, what you said earlier, Devin, about there's people who are just ready to get something done. If someone says ‘Oh, work with Devin...or work with Kelly, you know...work with Devin, if you need production...work with Kelly if you need to design your logo,’ then turn it into a full blown brand, and website and social media and all that.


The smart business owners out there do not have time to go shopping around. I'm telling you that is something that I believe as a business owner, I would rather get one referral from someone I trust and say, ‘Great, what's it going to cost me, let's do this. I don't have time to mess around. I don't want to go find someone else if you're the person for the job.’ That’s the main thing.


[Host]

There’s a key point in all of this as well that I was going to drive at. There's a ton of “how to” stuff, there's Fiverr, you can get people to design the logo for five bucks. You can get I mean, it's unlimited. The art, and the taste, and the understanding of how to drive that whoever's doing the work for you to get the desired results, when you're trying to take everything - the design, the copy the aesthetic - if you don't know how to put it together in a tasteful way in a professional, and make it work, make an edit work. If you've got a great editor, or an editor that's not so great, and you can't give them the right kind of notes to bring the video together, it doesn't matter how good they are.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I totally know what you mean, Devin, I think what I've found is a lot of people think they're gonna save money by cutting corners or doing one thing at a time. Honestly, this is where I put my foot down. In the last two weeks, I've had multiple brief conversations with people and I said, ‘Hey, look, I don't just come in and do your website, if you're not going to let me touch your brand. I'm not going to put my name on something that another designer did, if it's not up to the standard of quality that is reflective of the work that I believe in.’


Cutting corners usually ends up with a product you're not as happy about as the result, and you end up spending more money in the long run to fix it. When I work with people, I like to say, you can hire someone to handle things continuously as a holistic approach, as opposed to taking these bits and pieces out of context of what you're trying to achieve in the long run.


The other thing, Devin, is values. I went to a really cool two day workshop in October that was sort of my birthday present to myself this year, also something I had been wanting to do for a while. This is a whole other conversation, but I believe that everyone should have professional coaches in their life and their business at different stages.


We talked a lot about values. The whole thing started with “what are your values,” and “guess what, your personal values and business values are not the same.” The biggest pitfall of entrepreneurs is, you think you have your values nailed down, but they're not your business values. So you hate what you do, because you're trying to take your personal values into your business. Then you're like, ‘Oh, my God, my personal life just became work.’


[Host]

Right.


[Kelly Mazanti]


What I found though is, we were talking about word of mouth earlier, how do you overcome these shoppers who are getting the best deal and getting every bid they can on design work or production work? Once you get the right word of mouth that reflects the type of work that you are really passionate about, and that aligns with the values you have for your business as far as what you want to be known for...this is a great example of my dream client, who I'm currently working with. It was a referral by a woman in California who has also been in the film industry her entire life. She's one of the other gems in LA that I met in addition to you. She sent me an email: “Hey, can I introduce you to these guys? They need some help, they're doing something with leather.”


[Host]

Is that the cat sweater company?


[Kelly Mazanti]

Oh, yeah, totally. They're launching the cat sweater in 2021, and everyone needs to buy it.


[Host]

Dream client.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Yeah, totally dream client. It was hilarious because she had known what I did for years and kind of followed my evolution, and we're good friends now from a distance. All it took was one phone call. I had a video call with these guys, and right off the bat, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that's what it feels like to talk to someone who aligns with your values!’ They are designing a modern high-end men's lifestyle brand. They came to me not knowing what they needed. They're like, ‘We're doing this really nice product, but we don't think our brand is really ready.’ That's the thing, they didn't have anything comprehensively put together yet. Now they do and it's beautiful.


[Host]

Well you're very lucky. I mean and congrats on that because…


[Kelly Mazanti]

Thank you.


[Host]

..there is nothing like working with smart, good people. Who you, your values do align with, that’s something I long for. I'm continually on the hunt and on the search - and I think that's why you and I've stayed in contact for so long - is when you find people that are super smart, they get it. You don't want to let them out of your life, in one way or another, and I don't mean that in a creepy way. Lock them up in your basement!


[Kelly Mazanti]

I’m going to keep you in my life forever!


[Host]

Just so everybody knows, Kelly's actually down in my basement right now.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Hanging out with MIchelle having a cocktail!


[Host]

I think I have to get dinner down there pretty soon. No…


When you find somebody like that….I’m on a quest right now, because my shift has been from commercial work, promo at networks and things into original content. I'm on a quest to find other people who have a little bit different skill sets than me, to join up and have the same heart, have the same drive, they want it just as bad as I want it. That's such a hard thing to do.


[Kelly Mazanti]

The skill-set thing Devin, you just nailed it. You can’t overlap. You truly, to have the healthy disagreement that comes with pushing the envelope with productive moving forward activity in a business. If you find people that compliment your skill set but don’t overlap and there’s a distinct set of jobs that you each take care of, that is healthy, and you can then push the limits if it’s clearly defined.


[Host]

That’s true, and it’s very hard to find people because we’re all in different stages in life. It’s really hard to find people who are in the same life situation, same timing. I find more people that want to just hitch to a wagon. Then you start seeing a pattern of they’ll call you, every now and then you’ll hear from them, but it’s kind of like they’re looking for work, but they’re not there every day.


I’ve had conversations with people, ‘look man, we could do this, but it’s going to take work. This is a job, we got to meet, we got to talk, we got to get this stuff going,’ and then you just never hear from them.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Yes I totally know that.


[Host]

And I finally stopped calling people back. It’s like I love brainstorming and talking about ideas and stories, I think that’s how things develop. I think it’s very hard to do a lot of this kind of story-telling on your own. People can come up with their own ideas and develop to a certain point, but there’s nothing like collaboration. I love when I throw out an idea and they throw something into the mix, and it’s like way better. Trying to find those people is very difficult, very very difficult.


[Kelly Mazanti]

I think it works best when you each have your own agenda, your own thing going on, and then if you still collaborate and make the time for stuff. Instead of, like you said, you’re doing your thing, and someone wants to hitch their wagon, but they don’t want to put in the work until stuff starts happening, that’s just so difficult, those situations. When you find someone else that’s like-minded that has their own drive for their own business, and then you can collaborate with your own businesses happening, and then make those decisions together, I think it works a lot better, we both found that.


[Host]

That’s so true, that’s so true. You have to be very determined and specific about what you’re doing. I get in the bad habit, I love to start things. I got this little system that I do, it’s based on a 13 week - I kind of have a 13 week cycle - because that’s about enough time to, it’s not like “oh there’s my six month goal or my 12 month goal” and you sort of get in cruise control. In this 13 weeks, here's what I'm going to do. I have everything written down, here are the things I want to accomplish and all that kind of stuff.


Over and over and over and over as long as I've been doing what I've been doing, you still forget. To have that kind of stuff written down. I did this just the other day. I went back and read what my initial kind of fire goals and visions were for this 13 weeks that I'm in. I'm like, “Holy crap. I forgot about that!” You know, I got to do that, but to go back into kind of revisit those, it kind of just rekindles the fire and keeps the fire going.

What do you do to de-stress?


[Kelly Mazanti]

I go on hikes every day, Devin! Actually, truly though, what I found being here in Colorado and why - I was heading back to Hermosa Beach after I went through a relationship change - I was living with my parents. I had a quarter life crisis, so I actually moved up to Colorado, or out to Colorado with my former partner about two or three years ago, I've lost track.


I was unhappy. I moved up to where I now live in Summit County, Colorado, and I really fell in love with the mountains and realize this is what feeds my soul. I grew up in nature, being outside, backpacking, waterskiing, skiing, snow skiing. Then once I was up here, I realized, this is what I've been missing for all of my twenties. This is what I need.


So I'm hiking almost, not every day, but like five days a week, whether it's snow hikes or hikes in the summer and then backpacking in the summer. I just got into mountain biking. Holy cow, I am in love with mountain biking. I'm not the fastest.


[Host]

Which is not a bad thing when you’re mountain biking you don't want to be the fastest off the cliff.


[Kelly Mazanti]

You want to be faster uphill then…


[Host]

‘Hey where’d Kelly go? Anyone see Kelly?’


[Kelly Mazanti]

I don't know where Kelly went, she's out back there eating snacks probably! It’s a low blood sugar thing. So I found that mountain biking is actually a huge stress reliever because it kind of ticks you off when you're going, and you're like, “Oh, I hate this so hard going uphill.” Then you go down and you're just like, “Oh my God, I can't wipe the smile off my face. This is the best thing in the world. I'm exhausted!” It just beats up your body in the best way. Then now it's winter here. So I just skinned uphill at Breckenridge at 7:00am yesterday and got fresh tracks down by myself, as the sun was coming up.


[Host]

Wow, that’s impressive.


[Kelly Mazanti]

So basically it's just hiking uphill on your skis, and then you transition your skis at the top and you get a free rundown. So it's like hiking on your skis and I love doing that.


It's great exercise. So anytime I'm moving and doing something physical with my body, that is a great stress reliever. Then yoga, I've gotten more into restorative yoga. I used to love the whole exercise power yoga thing. Now I really appreciate having a reason to slow down and calm and lower my nervous system down.


[Host]

Which is great by the way, guys. Kelly, by the time this comes out, her podcast will be launched and her first guest says some interesting yoga stuff. I won't give too many details, but that's a great episode.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Oh yes.


[Host]

What books are you reading? Do you read books for inspiration or do you read books, or do you listen to audio books?


[Kelly Mazanti]

You should see what's around me. I like paper books. I oscillate between a hardback and a paper back depending on what was available when I bought it. Right now I love Richard Branson's books because he's just a really interesting entrepreneur. One thing I learned from him is he talks about how big he risked it financially and it puts everything in perspective when you're like, “Oh, I have $10,000 in credit card debt.” He's like, “Oh yeah, $20 million leverage with five banks around the world.” You're like, “Okay, I can do this.” So, if I'm determined I can do this. What I'm reading now actually is Seth Godin's book This is Marketing, and I usually have at least one book like that going that's sort of like professional development and then a novel, because I do like historical fiction.


I don't like anything scary, because then I can't sleep at night. I just finished reading Simon, the Fiddler, which is like Civil War era. That was sort of my novel. It's kind of fun to get a little, actually it's based in Texas Galveston.


[Host]

Oh, as all Civil Wars are!


[Kelly Mazanti]

Exactly are you even part of the United States anymore?


[Host]

By the way are you going to come down when we get into our Civil War, are you going to come down and help us or?


[Kelly Mazanti]

Yeah, I would opt out of that one. I'll be going up somewhere, just blowing off some steam.


[Host]

You’re invited you know. You can come and hang out.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Thanks for asking. I wish you the best, but thank you. Maybe you guys should come here actually and stay for a while, you and Michelle.


I do love books, I'm also reading You're a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. I've read it several times before, but if you haven't read it, it's a great book, it bolsters your confidence, mindset and manifesting things, but also Marie Forleo again says motion. Whether it's physical activity or literally trying something new in your business, instead of waiting for the phone call, you can be doing stuff and waiting for the phone call. So that's sort of what Jen Sincero his philosophy is too. You got to do the right things, but you also just have to start doing things and doing things that are gonna cause your beliefs to be put into action.


Yeah. I’m a big believer in reading positive stuff.


[Host]

Yeah, absolutely. That's kind of where I'm at in this space. I've always, you know, several years ago, probably one of the first books I read in that space when I was younger, like my early twenties was Awaken the Giant Within, which is, oh my God, I can't, this is going to be an edit by the way, because I'm not going to sound this dumb…


[Kelly Mazanti]

I'm looking it up….


[Host]

It's Tony Robbins!


[Kelly Mazanti]

Oh I love him!


[Host]

So one of the first books I read when I was young was Awaken the Giant Within., This was a thick book. I mean, this thing had to be like nine inches thick, but I started reading it sort of set me on the path to my world of entrepreneurship and my kind of drive and that kind of thing. He has so many great sayings. One of my favorite, most simple sayings that I pass along to as many men that I know, that need to be kicked in the ass, but he has a saying, “heal the boy and the man will appear.”


I think that goes back to kind of what you were saying earlier about some of this other stuff, but he's got a lot of good stuff. I'm an audio guy. I listened to books. I do have physical books.I'm looking at a Seth Godin book as well. I love reading his stuff.

One of my favorite physical books is Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. I don't know if you've read that or not.


[Kelly Mazanti]

Not yet. It's been on my list because of you actually.


[Host]

You should check it out. He just compiled hundreds of interviews with very successful people. And they're almost like little snacks. They're like little two pages of their routine, their little inspiration. I mean, it's just like a ton of inspiration, just like coming at you. You don't want to stop.


There's a bunch of different categories, but right now I'm listening to a new book. It's called Green Light by Matthew McConaughey and he reads it himself in his own style. What an interesting for him, he kind of points out, you got to be aware in your life, you got to recognize that green lights and things that, like you just said earlier, you've got to, even if you're not, you don't have any clients right now, or whatever, you still need to be moving forward. You got to do something.


[Kelly Mazanti]

A body in motion stays in motion or an object in motion. It's true. If you just start, even if it's the wrong thing, it's going to get you closer to the right thing faster.


[Host]

So many people are like “why isn't anything happen in my life and why isn't this, that and the other?” This is more advice that I used to give my boys as well. It's kind of like sitting in a car and the car's turned on, it's a really nice car, you're turning around and you're going, “guys, why aren't we going? Why, why does anything happen in my life?” Well, you got to push the gas. You gotta move.


[Kelly Mazanti]

You might not have the directions, right but you’re going to be going somewhere.


[Host]

You’re going to be driving down the road, you're going to start seeing different things. You're going to start seeing different cultures. You're going to start seeing different scenery. You're going to start finding yourself pretty soon on an odyssey of “Oh my gosh!”

You got to push the gas. You got to move forward.


I think that's, that's really important. So let's wrap this up real quick. It's been a pleasure to have you on the show and thank you. Where can people find you? Where's the best place people can find you?


[Kelly Mazanti]

My company is called Pier Collective and it's actually spelled P I E R like the pier that goes out into a body of water, because I started my business while living in Hermosa Beach.