We had the good fortune of connecting with Kasi Munoz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kasi, how do you think about risk?
I’m all for taking risks. I have yet to take the paved road in building my career, so I feel like everything I have done to get here has been risky. Going to grad school and assuming major loans, was a big risk. Gravitating towards a niche within my industry was a risk. The very act of building a business is a risk. I feel like the way I approach projects and how I am learning to build a business has benefited from being a risk taker, because I bring a creative, solutions oriented mindset. I feel like I continually strategize, and have learned that putting strategy into practice takes time and it also takes a understanding in knowing where ore support is needed. On the flip side, taking risks has been financially costly. I did not start with a high paying corporate career and then decide I want to develop my own practice. I started on my own, lean, and had to invest in myself both with time and money. I am learning to make better decisions, and learning to play up my strengths more, and I learned all this through the risks I took.
What should our readers know about your business?
I practice landscape architecture and when I began, in 2006 or so, I started out in natural building and permaculture, which taught me a lot about designing with nature. I fell in love. I started building some businesses with my ex-husband and other friends through the years, designing and building landscapes, and really enjoyed the full hands on approach. I learn by doing, so it was great to see ideas come to life so quickly. Around 2010, I felt a turning point. I felt a little stuck where I was and had been contemplating going to grad school for landscape architecture for a couple of years. I felt that earning my MLA would quickly accelerate my learning curve and open my eyes to other opportunities. So, I did just that, and it did accelerate my learning curve and open my eyes to other opportunities. The main thing I saw over and over, was a major separation from designer to community. Plus, everything really lacked a sense of play and fun. Being exposed to the architecture and landscape architecture industry in San Diego, made me realize I wanted to work differently. Everyone in this industry looks tired, over-worked, under-paid and yet it perpetuates. I think because I saw this and wanted to take a different approach, that I did not get the training most people in my industry get from working in a bigger or at least more established firm. This has been a big obstacle to overcome. Establishing your own systems and just learning by making mistakes can be painful. But then you learn. It is a lot of responsibility to bring in your own contracts, and earn enough to provide yourself with a decent standard of living. Not to mention, as a small business in California, you pay big time in taxes, insurances, and all the things that it takes just to run the business. But, what I have learned is to get help on the things that are not your strengths. It is worth paying for other contractors and consultants to help you set up paperwork, systems, and financials. None of this has been easy. I have worked really hard and continue to do so. But it has been a total investment in myself and the things I believe in. I’m also clearer more than ever on the type of work I want to do and the people I want to work with, and I think that is usually one of the biggest learning curves most people go through. And lastly, I get to be myself and have fun. I value fun and play over most things, and was laughed at by a professor in grad school when I mentioned that the work should be more fun. If I can make my work, feel like play, then I have totally reached my goal!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am definitely not the host with the most. But I would say the beach, the beach, the beach. Hike Torrey Pines, climb down to the beach, have some margaritas afterwards, laugh a lot. Cantina Mayahuel would be a definite spot. Sunset Cliffs for sunset with a little picnic and some wine is a must. I love cruising Barrio Logan and shopping. And, eating at Red House Pizza, at the counter, and talking with strangers! When we can do that again!
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?
Family & Friends! My family and friends are always there to support me, believe in me, hear me rant and gripe and learn and watch my growth, and remind me of my growth!
Stacy Keck (photo of me jumping) UCSD (African Caribbean photo)
Nominate someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.