We had the good fortune of connecting with Keili Fernando and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keili, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think finding balance is something that needs to be considered every day and changes over time—just as our lives, bodies, and priorities do. When I was in college, I was involved with pretty much anything and everything that I was interested in—internships, student organizations, publications, event committees, and even an intramural dodgeball team. I majored in Communication and minored in Theatre with an emphasis in Stage Management at UC San Diego. During my time there, I learned a lot about myself and became aware of the challenges in handling stress. Since then, it’s been a journey filled with opportunities, burnout, and turning points. Today, I find the key to balance, is mindfulness—being present and acknowledging what my body, mind, and soul need. One of my mentors recently reminded me that we can only put out great work if we feel great. This begs the question, “Where is my energy most needed at this moment in time?” I’ve thought a lot about this topic, and I believe that it’s about integrating things together. It’s not finding a consistent 50/50 because it’s a continuous ebb and flow. I’m a big proponent of taking stock of life and understanding that there is a reason to a season. Being kind to oneself is very necessary, especially in these tumultuous times we’re living in.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The last time we spoke, I shared about my being a singer-songwriter (https://www.keilifernando.com/) and my production company, KLiF Productions (https://www.klifproductions.com/). Since then, like many other small businesses, I needed to pivot due to the global pandemic. With weddings being postponed, venues being shut down, and tours being cancelled, I had to diversify my offerings. I noticed that my clients were looking for alternate, intimate ways to celebrate their special occasions. There was a demand for eucalyptus, so I got my agriculture license and launched eukaylyptus (https://www.eukaylyptus.com/). Each leaf, stem, and branch is hand-picked with love and assembled with the customer in mind. The two most popular products right now are the confetti (a.k.a. leaves) and shower bundles. The confetti is used for table scatter or gift stuffers. My favorite item is the fresh shower bundle. The scent from the leaves permeate the bathroom during a hot shower, which opens up my sinuses and allows for deeper breathing. It’s an easy way to create a home spa for de-stressing. There is so much versatility with eucalyptus. Speaking of balance, music and media aren’t going anywhere… I find that all three of these endeavors are intertwined. There will be more to come on this later this year.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
After living in San Diego for 5 years, it has become one of my favorite places to visit. Looking back, I’ve had a lot of fond memories there. My go-to activities in the area pre-COVID include: Coffee at Surfdog’s Java Hut in Encinitas. They have the friendliest staff and such a cool vibe. The Chunky Monkey smoothie is delicious. Take a drive from Encinitas into La Jolla on PCH. It’s a scenic route lined with quaint shops and a gorgeous oceanic view that’s not to miss. Have brunch at Bella Vista Caffé in La Jolla. I was a regular here. I’d order an açai bowl to-go then cross the parking lot to the Torrey Pines Gliderport to overlook the beach and watch the paragliders. If you’re in the mood for a hike, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a classic. You can walk along the flat beach or you can take one of the trails. There’s something for everyone there, but the best part is that you’re surrounded by the ocean breeze and nature. For dinner, my friends and I were regulars at Star Anise for Thai food, located in the UTC area. The staff got to know my regular order: Pad Thai, Fried Rice, and Tom Yum. Last but not least, I highly recommend going to La Jolla Playhouse to see a show. I spent countless hours there. The work that they put on stage is world-class. They are always pushing boundaries, creating work that ignites conversation, and fostering amazing talent. Many notable shows started there before heading to Broadway, including Jersey Boys, Come From Away, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When you approached me with this series topic, you warmed my heart. You are so right. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about where I’ve come from, how far I’ve come, and the people whom I have crossed paths with along the way—God is so good. The top three groups of people whom I’d like to give a shoutout to are: My family. My mom is my biggest cheerleader, my “momager,” and one of my best friends. I am so fortunate that she makes me feel supported, heard, and grounded. Although my dad jokes that he is just “the muscle” at my music gigs or when we’re in the yard, he is someone who knows how to cheer me up, whether that’s a spontaneous trip to the beach, grabbing milkshakes together, or watching a romantic comedy. My younger brother, TREE, continues to inspire me every day through his kindness and undeniable artistry. We have a tight relationship. Second are my friends. I have a number of creative and business accountability partners, whom I’ve had the honor of growing with. One who stuck by me over the past several years—through the ups and downs—is Kelli Rice. Whenever I have a “crazy idea,” she doesn’t hesitate to jump onboard to help me bring my vision to life. She has helped me with production management, tour management, and is always there to lend a listening ear. We’ve been through a lot together, and I’m really lucky to have her as a close friend and creative partner. Lastly are my teachers, coaches, and mentors. It has not been lost on me that I continue to learn and grow because of the people around me. I first realized this in my second year as an undergrad when several grad students in the Theatre & Dance Department took me under their wings. Because of them, I was given a glimpse of the “real world” and meaningful life lessons. Some of these incredible people are Megan Sprowls, Tom Patterson, and Rachael D. Albert.