We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Hutter Mason and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate Hutter, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I used to try to keep score or balance things as opposed to letting it all co-mingle since it all lives in me – the work, the life, the hobbies, the passions, the obligations, the choices. Instead of part and parceling it out and trying to compartmentalize to make sense of each piece, I now just let it create this messy collage of an identity for myself. I think this shift started to occur during the cataclysmic event of becoming a parent. With the birth of my first child – my daughter Charley – I also shifted from being founding Artistic Director of L.A. Contemporary Dance Company to being part of the board and leadership team of my family’s owned and operated aerospace design and manufacturing company, Click Bond. Both the professional and personal shifts in my life occurring at once was pretty destabilizing, and my reality was completely shifted from late night rehearsals to late night diapers, and from non-profit grant writing to spreadsheets and P&L. Not only was there no balance, there was no semblance of the life I had come to know over the past 10 years. 5 years later now, I allow myself to just breathe in the complexity of my unclear identity of mom, artist, rebel, entrepreneur, activist, corporate board member, and more recently, real estate owner and founder of the community arts center Stomping Ground L.A. I recognize that I love working, and could even be called a workaholic. But, I also recognize that I grew up with parents who were starting a business and building it from the ground up right in front of my eyes. This is my opportunity to involve my children and not see my work as being absent from my life, but an integral part of it. I want them to see how I love what I do, and for them to know that I will be cheering on their ambition and dreams with the same fervor that I have dedicated to mine. And though I have from time to time yearned for a career that draws clear boundaries between the office and home, I have come to respect that for me, there is not balance. Like the improvisational dancer that I am, I find energy and inspiration as I fall and sway, and be carried by opportunity and the things that call me, energize me, and prompt me in the moment. Somewhere in this constant activation, I am not often balanced or meditating on trying to find a perfect state. Instead I am blissfully in motion, and often moving forward.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have taken a circuitous route, but always followed my passions and remained curious. I am always willing to ask questions and understand my skills through experience. I also am able to takes leaps of faith in my careers and ventures when I understand best how I can serve others by doing it. Meaning – starting a dance company was thrilling because I knew I would be able to gather incredible people and minds to create amazing things together. It felt possible because of this mission of service. I never felt very energized if it was for my own personal work or gain. I love to collaborate and make things happen with other people, so that has been my guidestar in what I work on from college all the way to my professional career. I have now started two arts organizations – a dance company and a community arts center – that are focused on collaboration and inspiring people to live creative and expressive lives. I also had the great fortune to join my family’s aerospace manufacturing company and be a key part of the ownership and leadership team. I like to call it my “MBA on my feet” where I have had to learn A LOT through experience, but also bring my experience from the arts / non-profit sector to the table to influence corporate culture and decision making. How do you foster experimentation and ideation in a high risk field like aerospace fasteners? I have yet to get all the engineers in the dance studio to see how we could possibly problem solve and think tank some ideas, but it has been exciting to shake up what seem like given ways of working in a particular field with practices from my artistic background. It is challenging to see the arts in schools, and likewise interpersonal, human operations in corporate culture cast as “soft skills” or non-essential. We are putting our inventive potential at a deficit when we can’t be creative, expressive, sensing humans in our work. We need to make sure we save time and space in the regiment of curriculum and later in the regiment of work to make sure we are not turning people into machines. Only then will we become replaceable with automation and robotics. Instead, we need to foster humans to be wild dreamers, explorers, mischief makers, and creative beings that ideate and reconsider what is to contemplate what can be daily.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Particularly during COVID – the patio of Sotta in Burbank is a gem. My solid go to is California Chicken Cafe when I need to feel healthy. But, my all time favorite is Cheo’s Taco truck that parks beside Stomping Ground L.A. – family owned and operated for over 20 years and THE BEST IN TOWN!!
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?
Shoutout to L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, my crew at Stomping Ground L.A., my brother and parents, and my incredible husband and kiddos – Eric, Charley, & Rory
Eric Mason, Gema Galiana, Larry Hirshowitz