In Conversation with Amanda Cey DeMonaco of beLeaf Retreat

Amanda Cey DeMonaco_Blog Header

Describe your business in a few words?

My new venture is called beLeaf Retreat, and it’s an immersive and virtual plant-based weekend experience that will take place on Jan 9 & 10, 2021. We’ve built a custom, animated platform and have 20 amazing leaders on board that will be guiding our participants through some really important activities and discussions. Once the pandemic is over and live events return, it will likely morph into some other things!

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I started my 1st company at age 30, and I just really wanted to work for myself, doing something that I am passionate about, and using my creativity.  I didn’t have a ton of event planning experience at the time, but I figured I’d give it a shot.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I worked a variety of jobs in PR and marketing early on, and then for some big agents in LA, and finally ended up working as a Litigation Paralegal for a bunch of years, as I thought I wanted to go to law school. I got a good mix of experience that led me to where I am now. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

When I was 7 years old, I collected golf balls around our home in Arizona. I then cleaned them in the bathtub and sold them back to the pro shop at the golf club. I think that was a good sign. I also never really liked having  to go into an office every day, so entrepreneurial life and pandemic life work well for me:)

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

I had a consultant early on that told me to cold call like 100 people a day, or some silly number of targets. It was horrible and terrifying. Somewhere around my 30th call I spoke to a woman at Adobe that was in the midst of planning an event but needed help. They were one of my very first clients! I do think I gave up cold calling after that, as Facebook had just really started taking off. I was so excited that I could just share what I did online and hope for people to see it. I also invested in SEO pretty early on, so started to get people reaching out to me which was just amazing. Then it was just a matter of time before it started really taking off.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Oh, wow… there have been quite a few. Owning your own business is filled with constant challenges and mistakes, so those are common occurrences. At least they have been for me;) I think the hardest part is always not knowing what’s going to happen next, so you have to get comfortable with that and make sure that you account for periods of feast and famine.

What is the accomplishment you are the proudest of to date?

I’m most proud of my current venture, beLeaf Retreat. It’s my first event of my own, of this scale at least. All of my events prior were for big companies, so it was super fun creating something that has a lot of personal meaning behind it. beLeaf Retreat stemmed from my frustration with the pandemic and my love for all things plant-based.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The live event industry has been completely decimated. It’s very sad and I think it’s still going to be quite some time until we see large scale live events return. Many are hoping for a comeback around April of 2021, so we’ll see what happens with the vaccine. Everyone’s had to just figure out an entirely new plan, which is really hard. Pivoting to virtual is not just like this super easy thing that you do overnight either…there are a ton of complexities to it as well. A lot of planners are just kind of getting left in the dust.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I think we’ll have to see how the launch of beLeaf Retreat goes in January 2021, and if that’s a success – I think we’ll be able to start fleshing out more of a plan for the year. I think that the next ones will be a lot easier now that we’ve built a custom platform and kind of have things in place, so could do a few virtual events per year and then hopefully move back into a variety of live events. My original idea was actually a 2-day live summit and veg fest here in SF, so would like to start thinking about that soon. I think we’ll also do some fun plant-based retreats as well once we return to traveling as well. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Well, it’s not over yet…haha 😉 I think the word of the year is pivot, which I’m sure everyone is super sick of hearing. But 2020 has taught me to be resilient and to fight back. It’s allowed me the opportunity to create something of my own with true meaning and purpose. 

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

I have two little girls and they often remind me that what I’m doing is not nearly as important as them.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Oh man, this is a hard one. I do believe in it but sometimes it’s incredibly impossible to maintain. I have a peloton bike literally next to my desk and I haven’t been on it in a LONG time 😉 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m actually not a huge fan of public speaking. It makes me super nervous, but I know it’s something I need to do 

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Get a workout in, make sure to eat lunch (at some point ;), and turn off slack;) Totally guilty of not doing the last one!

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means taking big risks and constantly putting yourself in uncomfortable positions 😉 You can easily fold into yourself when things don’t go your way, but you’ve got to keep going. It doesn’t always work out, but there’s always lessons there. 

Share it!

Posted in

Leave a Comment

Melanie Rivera of Breaker28 on making an impact while finding joy in everyday life hiccups and surprises

Describe Breaker28 in a few words? We develop leaders with H.E.A.R.T. – Healthy, Equitable, Antiracist, Real and Trust-Centered. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been planning my business for four years – perfecting content, testing out approaches, and I feel that I have a message and a model…

Bex Gold of Brite Hair on combining ethics and fashion to drive innovation into the haircare space

Describe your business in a few words? Brite Hair makes quality ethical, vegan, cruelty free hair color & hair care products that are accessible and fun! What made you take the leap to start your own business? I founded a hair color brand after a long-term relationship ended – I was in my 30s and…

Sonya Tkacs of Recruitlynk on why marketing and selling your business as an owner never stops

Describe your business in a few words? The Recruitlynk mission is to recruit and source top executive and management talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We strive to help sustain and nurture inclusive cultures where differences drive innovative solutions and uphold diversity in the workplace. Our goal is to effectively hire leaders who care about…

Isabelle Tierney of The Feel Good Life on helping people lead more fulfilling lives with her ground-breaking methodology

Describe your business in a few words? I help individuals, as well as businesses, relieve stress and choose well-being. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I had a highly successful private practice for more than 20 years as a marriage and family therapist, but my personal life was anything but…

Brittany Whitlock of Big Mood Digital on why the thing you are afraid of is the thing you have to do!

Describe Big Mood Digital in a few words? I train business owners, marketers and teams on how to conquer digital marketing confidently making it approachable and manageable through private sessions and courses. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I love working with passionate people who get excited to learn something…

Courtlyn Jones of The Design Database on being a creative entrepreneur, and how she is helping freelancers create the career of their dreams

Describe your business in a few words? The Design Database is an online platform and community designed to be a support system for Creatives, helping them find jobs. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I was hired as a graphic designer at my “dream company,” 10 years after I set…

Erin Pohan of Upkeeping on overcoming fear, and her three best tips for staying productive

Describe your business in a few words? My goal with UpKeeping is to continually evolve to meet the financial accounting needs of entrepreneurs. We currently offer full-service bookkeeping services, accounting clean-ups and QuickBooks training. What made you take the leap to start your own business? For most of my life, I sat back and watched…

Danielle Elias Las of Bump’n Clothing on growing a business while giving back to the IVF community

Describe Bump’n Clothing in a few words? The ultimate in maternity and postpartum apparel. What made you take the leap to start your own business? The desire to create the perfect maternity pant while giving back to the IVF community. What was your background prior to starting your own business? Attorney; In House Counsel for…

Miriam Airington-Fisher of Airington Law on combining law and entrepreneurship and how she is making an impact

Describe your business in a few words? Airington Law is a women-lead law firm specializing in defending against wrongful convictions and litigating civil rights issues What made you take the leap to start your own business? I initially started my law practice out of necessity. I went through a divorce and became a single mom…

Michele Henry of FACE FOUNDRIÉ on why she leans into her fears, and the importance of dreaming big

Describe FACE FOUNDRIÉ in a few words? Efficient and effective focused facial bar specializing in all things face, facials, lashes, brows, and skincare. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I worked in my parents’ small inground pool business from age 13 all the way through college. Being an entrepreneur is…

Ashley Spriggs of Pivot Media on the power of genuine relationships

Describe your business in a few words? We are a media firm that gets your message the attention it deserves. We offer services in Public Relations and Podcast Management. What made you take the leap to start your own business? It was the right time! I was growing my client list as an independent contractor…

Mary Allard of The Third Place podcast on inviting listeners to explore uncomfortable conversations in a safe space

Describe your business in a few words? The Third Place podcast is a weekly podcast that invites listeners into the hard conversations that we have a tendency to avoid. It is a podcast that “goes there,” within a safe place where curiosity is encouraged, differences are welcomed, and empathy is embraced through healthy dialogue. What…

Kelsea Olivia of East Olivia Creative on creating experiences that spark curiosity, joy, and connection

Describe your business in a few words? East Olivia is a boutique creative agency that specializes in large-scale floral installations. What made you take the leap to start your own business? I have been starting businesses since I was a child, selling my crafts and babysitting. As an adult, I had an innate desire to…

Tiffany Roman of Small Biz Highlight on creating a platform to help small businesses thrive

Describe your business in a few words? Small Biz Highlight is a web show, created to help introduce the people behind a small/local business, their products and services, and discuss how COVID affected them. What made you take the leap to start your own business? Back in April 2020, COVID shutdowns were in full effect…

11 Mamaprenistas share their best productivity tips to manage a business and a family

1) Tierney Larkin, Founder at Larkin Living Spaces: “Be sure to have a designated space to work that is just for you and your business. It can be a makeshift office in the corner of a room, or even a traveling cart that you can take around with you to store all of your supplies…