MF 119 : How Kelly Bonanno Became a “Savvy Girl” Entrepreneur
Kelly Bonanno is an entrepreneur and coach, focusing on organic beauty, wellness, and eco-friendly products. Today, Kelly will share how blogging allowed her to build a business, combining two passions.
Successes at a glance:
Founder, Kelly Bonanno
Focusing on eco-friendly living, organic beauty products, and wellness
Commercials, promos, internet audio, computer software & tutorials, educational videos & CDs, corporate training videos, audio books, telephone on-hold productions, travelogues
Former Freelance Writer / Reporter / Anchor for the City of Santa Monica
Worked at CBS, starting out as a PA and eventually became head of a division of on-air promotions
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
For Kelly, a difficult moment was leaving CBS when she became a first-time mom. Kelly loved her job and her career path was constantly looking upward. As you will discover in the next section, Kelly started as a PA and worked her way to eventually running an entire department. However, the hours were long and very demanding: not conducive to the lifestyle of being a new parent. Further, while Kelly loves being a mom, she isn’t content to just be a stay-at-home mom. Kelly shares that the transition was a lonely one. Kelly, a true people person, found herself a bit isolated since most of her cohort were not having kids at the time. Kelly had also just recently lost her mom, making the transition even harder. On top of that, Kelly’s side gig in voiceover work came to a halt just as it was starting to really gain traction. The agency that represented her had closed its doors and finding new representation proved to be difficult. While a voiceover career is in many ways an ideal career for a new mom, Kelly recognizes that it wasn’t meant to be and doesn’t look back w/ any sadness or regrets.
Kelly is the very definition of resilience and optimism. Despite having a difficult transition out of the world of television broadcasting, she knew this was temporary and that she would find both her tribe and her big “aha” moment. At her core, she has always wanted to educate and share w/ an audience the knowledge and experiences she has garnered in making good healthy choices.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Kelly calls herself the “accidental environmentalist” and attributes her devotion to healthy living on the model her parents provided for her. Kelly also resisting the Hollywood-LA narrative that focused solely on superficial beauty. During her teen years, Kelly decided not to fall victim to that prescription; instead adopting a “beauty comes from within” mindset.
In terms of her career path, Kelly started out wanting to be a journalist. Speaking w/ Kelly, the one quality that stands out is this innate curiosity about the world and the choices we make as consumers w/ respect to our lifestyles. Combined w/ her love of storytelling and writing, it made sense that she would be drawn to journalism. Specifically, Kelly aspired to be a correspondent on a show like 60 Minutes or Dateline NBC. This spark developed as Kelly studied journalism in school and then got her first job w/ CBS. Although her first foray into broadcast television was w/ CBS’s entertainment division, she saw it as an important stepping stone towards news and television correspondence. Kelly started out as a PA and had a great 10-year run which culminated into her running an on-air promotions department.
The first major crossroads or pivot came when Kelly had her first son. At that point, the long hours at CBS weren’t as appealing, given the life change that had just occurred. However, Kelly is a self-described “doer.” While being a mom is a huge part of her life, she also has this lifelong drive to be vocational and entrepreneurial. What’s great about Kelly is that she has done many things to broaden her skillsets that have contributed to her personal and business growth. In addition to working for CBS, she’s also done voiceover work as well as reporting and anchoring for the City of Santa Monica. If her voice sounds familiar, it’s likely you’ve heard Kelly on a commercial, audio book, or corporate training video! Kelly also did freelance writing for blogs and publications which eventually led to a big “aha.”
As Kelly was writing for blogs and magazines, she decided why not start one of her own. During this time, Kelly was pregnant w/ her second son and unbeknownst to her, she somehow ended up on an email list for Dan Jacobson, a California environmental legislator. Dan’s stance against BPA, phthalates and the toxic chemicals in consumer plastics, intrigued Kelly. As she did some extensive research on her own, Kelly came to a shocking discovery. Many of these chemicals were in the products that she was using for her first son, then 3 years old; hitting very close to home. While nowadays, consumer awareness over toxic chemicals like BPA is fairly high, back then it was not a well-known issue. Kelly became a trailblazer, taking up this cause that affected her personally and other parents alike. Consider that, over the years, Kelly honed her skills as a journalist and a writer. Although the theme of her jobs at CBS and elsewhere were in various fields ranging from entertainment to local news, she kept her internal focus on healthy lifestyles and choices. This eventually led her to become what she describes, an “accidental environmentalist” and this is where Kelly’s story takes an incredible turn w/ a big “aha” revelation.
As Kelly wrote on health topics, her awareness grew on larger, global health concerns, including the toxins and hazards in everyday consumer products. This passion evolved into Kelly taking on a more consumer-educational route, teaching individuals how to make smart choices. Kelly’s newfound passion further evolved to reach more people as she started partnering w/ an organic skincare company, doing presentations and spreading the word. Speaking w/ Kelly on her journey, it’s almost as if you’re listening to a gardener planting a beautiful tree. Starting w/ a seedling which was her passion, her writing and speaking blossomed into learning, educating, and eventually coaching individuals on wellness and healthy, eco-friendly consumer choices. I should also mention that Kelly has a unique coaching style. While adamant about her stance on eco-friendly products, she doesn’t mandate a militant, all or nothing approach. Rather, she employs a personalized, client-centric / sensitive model. For example, a client may want to continue using eyeshadow that may not be eco-friendly but is open to making healthier choices in their skincare products or lipstick. Kelly’s role is to help guide that person in making those choices. It’s a layered, personalized approach that both educates but also empowers her clients in their decision making. Kelly likens this to a person who maintains a balance in their diet: eating healthy whiling indulge in an occasional glass of wine or a slice of pizza.
By taking the step of creating her blog, Kelly was able to combine two passions: creating a forum to communicate and cementing her as an expert in health, wellness, and eco-friendly living. Moreover, Kelly helped bring awareness to important issues that back then were not widely talked about. These efforts have paved the way for companies to reduce and/or eliminate toxins from their products while increasing consumer awareness. At the heart of Kelly’s story is this ever-lasting “knowing.” From a young age, Kelly had this inner voice telling her that she would make an impact; sharing her knowledge w/ an audience. She may not have known at the time that this is how her career path would unfold or the pivots and pathways that it would take, but one thing is for sure: Kelly has lived her life w/ a mindset of moving forward.
The other big piece to Kelly’s story is that she is her own media. In the early part of her career, Kelly sought to be a journalist by working for a network. But as Kelly reminds us, in the age of YouTube, blogging, and podcasts, you can create the channels to get the message out there. This is an exciting time to be sharing your gifts and as Kelly’s story reveals, it can lead you to great things.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Kelly to move forward:
Raquel Welch’s book on health and wellness: Kelly’s parents gave this to her as a teenager and it
Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
Environmental Working Group (EWG): they do great work on educating consumers on health and beauty products.
How Kelly recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Take a break w/ down time. Kelly’s daily routine includes meditation, exercise, and prayer to help reset. Kelly admits it’s a time crunch being an entrepreneur and a mom but shares that even if you can do a few minutes of a power walk or meditation, it will help you move forward!
Spend quality time w/ friends and family.
Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audio books:
Try out Audible and move forward with two free audio books through our partnership w/ Amazon.
Try out Amazon Prime for 30 days free.
Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
You create your own happiness. Gratitude is the gateway to everything and you should know that you are only as happy as you make your mind up to be. Happiness is a choice. The universe brings you what you are, not what you want.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“You become your thoughts.”