We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Mancuso and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
In western culture — specifically in the US — we are taught from a very young age to work our asses off so that we can eventually rise to the tippy top and have a relaxing life when we’re like 65. Since I was a freshman in college, I was overworking myself. I put myself through four years of full-time undergrad while also working a full-time serving job at a hotel in Pittsburgh. My mentality was “work hard, play hard… but, like, work so much that you have to play even harder to cope… and then work even harder until you eventually burn out.” And honestly, that’s how I was living my life until I started Coddiwomple. Throughout my 20s, I constantly had anywhere between 3 to 6 jobs at a time, and very rarely were they anything I actually found fulfilling. When we talk about “work/life balance”, my mind automatically goes to “money vs social life”. But your life is more than friends and family — it’s about your mental health, your capacity to handle stress and emotions, your ability to literally live. And when Covid hit, it was a massive turning point for my “work/life balance” (along with the rest of the world). Everyone handled this drastic change differently, based on each person’s mentality, tolerance, and privilege. For me, this timeout was my silver lining — literally what I needed to balance my work and life. It gave me a sweet escape from the restaurant industry and other part-time jobs that I didn’t care about, yet was devoting all my time and energy to for 60 hours every week. I used this new “free time” to do what I actually wanted to do — creating cool ass road trips for people that want to see the beauty of this country — and a little light came on. I started realizing that multiple things can be true: I can make a living doing something I actually enjoy doing; and I can slow down, breathe, smile, and focus on the moment right in front of me. My work/life balance terms changed from “fast”, “binary”, and “competitive” to “focused”, “collective”, and “playful”. I’m still growing and learning, but I’m so grateful that I was able to take this step in finding true balance.
What should our readers know about your business?
Coddiwomple Road Trips began with my sweet 2009 Toyota Corolla named Sheila, a cheap AF tent off Craigslist, and a vague destination to “somewhere on the West Coast”. Over an entire summer, I explored dozens of hidden state parks, the coolest campgrounds, drove the most beautiful roadways, hiked the most little-known trails, shot whiskey with locals at the diviest of bars, and saw parts of the country that widened my perspective and grounded my soul. I realized that I wanted everyone to experience the personal freedom that a road trip provides. And I have the experience, knowledge, and skill to plan that for people. So I came up with Coddiwomple — a service that personalizes road trips based specifically on you as an individual. Because a dirty, gritty outdoorsy National Park road trip might not appeal to someone that wants to cruise through beaches down the Pacific Coast Highway.
Certain parts of creating my own company were easier than I expected and others were much harder. I had never started a business before, so I had to do a lot of research into the technicalities of it — LLC policies, legalities, financial organization, etc. This part taught me a very important lesson that I’ve incorporated into everyday life: “Information is readily available everywhere; you just have to ask.” Whether it’s googling something, emailing a similar professional, or texting an old friend — information is everywhere. My biggest challenge in creating Coddiwomple has simply been marketing, which seems to be a challenge with many new small businesses. My Bachelor degree in Theatre Arts didn’t quite teach me about advertising and data analysis, haha. But I’ve learned to youtube things, read articles, and ask around until I found a really consistent way to build brand awareness in a specific community. It ended up being really fun and I’ve been able to partner with a lot of cool other small businesses as well. When it comes down to it, I’ve been able to plan life-altering trips for people who just want to enjoy the open road. And I’m so happy to be able to provide that service.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Omg yes this is literally my job now, haha! Okay:
DAY 1: Sleep in (because that was my favorite part of moving to California… nothing starts til like 10am). Grab hiking shoes, water, fanny pack, and an edible and hike Wisdom Tree trail. Head to a rooftop pool for the day! Snag dinner at Grand Central Market.
DAY 2: Beach Day! Go to Trader Joe’s and get hella snacks and cheap beer. Pack a cooler, a speaker, some playing cards, a few pre-rolls, and SPF. If we’re looking for a party, head up to Will Rogers Beach and if we’re looking to chill, head down to Manhattan Beach. On the way back stop at Sockerbit for a shit ton of candy. Check out Frida Cinema for a drive-in movie!
DAY 3: Hop over to Griffith Park for some outdoor yoga in the park. Food trucks in Silver Lake/Echo Park/Los Felix for lunch. Afternoon “tea” at Cannabis Cafe in Weho (whenever they reopen fingers crossed!!). Late afternoon hike at Runyon (West Trail), so they can see the damn Hollywood Sign 😉 Dinner at In N Out, baby!
DAY 4: Mini Road Trip to Joshua Tree! Pack up the camping gear and drive 1.5 hrs to Joshua Tree National Park. Tons of water, hiking, exploring and camp overnight. Maybe have an alien encounter, who knows?!
DAY 5: Drive back from Joshua Tree, chill at Poinsetta park with a bottle of champagne, and then get ready for Weho night. Hop from drag show to drag show all night!
DAY 6: Recoup from the night out with a Malibu day. Do a coastal hike up near Malibu and then just chill and watch the surfers go wild. Maybe try a bit of surfing ourselves! Dinner in Venice Beach for more of a hipster, beachy vibe.
DAY 7: Shop down Melrose Ave, making sure to hit up House of Intuition, all the thrift stores (#sustainablefashion), and happy hour Sake and Sushi. See a comedy show at Groundlings. Grab a late night vegan burger from Monty’s in Koreatown.
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 … *drum roll* … the yoga community, baby!!! Where would I be without this family? Freaking out in a deep dark spiraling hole, haha *laughing sweat drip*. I started practicing yoga and meditation when I moved to Los Angeles in 2019. The yoga practice has taught me how to let go of ego, to see beyond my own lens, and to recognize that what happens in one community is directly related to what happens in another. It has taught how to both love myself and hold myself accountable. It has taught me to live in the non-binary and that many things can be true at once. The community constantly gives me the courage and support to take risks responsibly, prioritize my life differently, play curiously, and make fulfilling choices. Shoutout specifically to my Sangha at Courageous Yoga in Denver, CO for teaching me that yoga & social activism go hand in hand. Mwah!
All me! 🙂