We had the good fortune of connecting with Kala Maxym and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kala, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
To be honest, I didn’t really “think” about starting it. I was working a full-time tech job, which I unexpectedly loved, and I was also still pursuing a career as a professional opera singer. Concurrently, I became interested in and began learning about wine. I was super intrigued by the concept of a “flight” of wine. I fell in love with the idea of traveling with a grape or a vineyard or a vintage through different stages of a story, and I wondered: could I get people to “taste” the music the way they tasted wines? Turns out with some clever storytelling and some creative and delicious pairings to things people were used to tasting – cheese and chocolate mainly – that was totally possible, and it opened up people’s minds to things they didn’t know they loved. That’s one of my favorite things in the world: being able to open someone’s eyes to the hidden gems they didn’t even know they loved! Beyond that, my company is about curating and composing experiences that bring the five senses into meaningful and purposeful harmony with one another. We all grow up in certain sensory ecosystems based on our geography, ethnicity, culture, etc., and a huge amount of our relationship with those things is through our senses. Since the five senses are – literally – the tools with which we take in information in the world, I believe it is hugely important to make sure we take care of them, specifically. I call that “sensory wellness,” and that is another huge part of my business ethos.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Five Senses Tastings is a boutique special events company that combines the art of storytelling with the power of the five senses to create transformational, full-sensory events that infuse our lives with moments of beauty and discovery. We hold that #BeautyIsNotALuxury, but a requirement for our well-being, and it is therefore our mission to counter any tendencies towards complacency and apathy with intention and the energy of our five senses to encourage full engagement with ourselves and the world in which we live. Partnering with world-class musicians, chefs, sommeliers, and other flavor artists, our events weave a diverse and delicious global narrative that unites music, wine, food, and sweet treats in perfect harmony while telling our clients’ unique personal and brand stories. Through purposeful and heart-directed guidance, we believe all can be inspired and transformed through the power of sensory engagement. A lot of tasting events focus on the facts and figures of tasting, but that’s not nearly as interesting to us as the nuances of story, personality, character, and history. All our events are about our clients… not about us. I think what sets us apart is that we approach our clients’ stories from their own point of view. Our story, our preferences, they don’t really matter. I like to think my natural mixture of great passion with great silliness is also something that attracts people. Rarely do I sit still in my events. I dance and gesture and make funny voices… because that’s who I am. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s me, and it seems to be doing me alright. I guess, if you want to talk entrepreneur-speak, you’d call that, “being authentically me!” Was it easy? Heeeelll, no!!! It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, I’ve gotten where I am today because I’m annoyingly stubborn I think. Of course there have been times I’ve wanted to “give up” but that’s not language I really buy into. My ability to keep iterating, a willingness to try new things all the time and accept that a huge number of them won’t work, I think, is something that’s kept me afloat and kept me always moving forward. I’ve learned to delegate, to hire before I am ready to do so, to relinquish control (and I’m not much of a control freak anyway but when you’ve built your business from the ground up, well, you’re just used to doing it all yourself). I hope people leave knowing that we truly and fundamentally believe that #BeautyIsNotALuxury, that it is there all around us for the taking and that engaging in beauty with our five senses will, without a doubt, enhance your daily life. I also hope that people will remind themselves of how much a simple gesture of kindness, a moment to stop and smell the roses, a gentle but intentional touch mean. Connection is what we live for as humans, and our five senses are what connect us to one another.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have to say I’m an east side girl and I happen to love where I live in Los Feliz. No trip to LA is complete without a visit to the observatory and House of Pies. While LA is amazing in and of itself – the beach, Hollywood Boulevard, Beverly Hills, Huntington Gardens – I think no trip is complete without a visit to Malibu, central coast wine country and San Diego!
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?
My goodness that sure is a long list! First, we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our earliest supporters, the folks who took a chance on this crazy thing called a “music tasting” even before we had a logo or a website! Of course, my family, who never looked at me and asked, “are you crazy?” but rather just knew I would make the decisions I needed to make to keep moving forward. I’d like to give credit to Office of Awesome who helped with branding and to all the business coaches and programs I’ve had the privilege of participating in, particularly with Bri Seeley and Kimberly Spencer. I have had the blessing of being a part of several communities of amazing, generous, humble, and ambitious entrepreneurial women, and these have taught me so much and connected me with women who have become my friends and business partners over the years. And, of course, all the dozens of musicians who have performed with us, pushing me to new heights and always challenging me. This might sound sappy but my two orange tabbies, Caspar and Ollie, have played a huge part in keeping me sane on this exciting journey. Sometimes I’ll put my computer down for a second to go do something else and before I know it, Caspar is plopped down on my chest purring or Ollie has curled up behind my head on the couch. They remind me to stop and take a breath, and they definitely keep me smiling!