We had the good fortune of connecting with Rhonda Mancini and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rhonda, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I have lots of pockets of joy I can pull from but a lot of them weren’t available over the past year. I couldn’t go to concerts, spend time with my family, go out with friends, or travel. I had to make my own happiness and I found that in art. When I create something I’m proud of, I’m happy every time I see it because it reminds me of the creativity that I put into it. I love making gifts for friends. The more personalized it is the better. Especially if it is something functional that they can use to make their day easier, brighter, or a tiny bit more sparkly. I like to imagine that every time they see something I’ve made for them, they think of me and that makes me happy!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have had a passion for art my whole life. I’m known as the ‘crafty friend’ but never had a defined medium. I’ve tried everything like scrapbooking, jewelry making, photography, hand lettering and digital art. I don’t believe I have ever called myself an artist until now. I had falsely believed art needed to be your main source of income to be a real artist. I had been working in marketing since 2008, starting at a footwear company, then a theme park, an agency and even as a freelance graphic designer. Any 9-5 job I had I loved, but it drained my creativity and energy so I only squeezed in art when I could or felt up to it which was rare. This led to a negative cycle of picking up a project, feeling overwhelmed, never finishing, finding a new project, feeling guilty about not finishing the last one and then starting over with something completely different. What was supposed to be fun and my true passion became a bad habit. Last year I was furloughed on May 1 and like many others, I felt stuck in limbo. I became so stressed not knowing the future that I looked for ways to calm my mind. I picked resin art back up. There is a lot of tedious work with this medium that allows me to put my brain on autopilot and focus on only that. After months of having little to look forward to, I was happy to wake up and de-mold the pieces I created, learn new techniques and plan what to make next. I decided to sell what I made, only intending to fund my hobby. Plus I was so excited to create my own brand, Starbun Co., inspired by my bunnies Bowie, Oliver and Dexter. I designed my logo and packaging materials and opened my Etsy in November. It has been well received since then and I am releasing new products monthly. For the past 10 months my employment while furloughed had been an anchor keeping me secure in knowing that for the time being, I still had a job to return to but also weighing me down. I never did as much as I wanted with my art knowing that one day I will have to return to my 9-5. I no longer wanted to squeeze my true passion into my life, I wanted it to be my life. So I made a tough decision at the beginning of the March to resign from my role at my current employer. I’m looking forward to mastering my niche of creating magical, galaxy inspired resin art and expanding my work into making more digital art, graphic design, and helping other small businesses create their brand.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a little rusty on fun stuff outside of my house right now but I’d make sure to take them to all my favorite North County breweries like Battlemage, Wild Barrel, Booze Bros, and Culver Beer to have flights of their specialties and and dine at the brewery food vendors. My current favorites are Locally Toasted, Al Toque Peruvian cuisine and Copper Kings Burgers. Sunset at the beach is a must, probably La Jolla to see the seals and the cliffs or my old hometown, Oceanside, for a stroll on the pier. I’d also take them up to Double Peak Park in San Elijo to get the full view of SoCal and we would definitely bring my bunnies for a photoshoot. Hopefully we would be able to catch a Padres or a Gulls game and fill the rest of the trip trying to figure out what to eat.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My friends and family have been so supportive of anything I do. My mom has always nurtured and encouraged my talents my whole life and I am so grateful for that. Shout out to my best friend, Ashley, for mentioning last year that she wanted to try resin art. I had been working with it on and off since 2009 so we did it together via Zoom last year and that reignited my love for it. Honestly if she hadn’t mentioned it when she did, I’m not sure when I would have picked it back up again. And my biggest gratitude goes to my partner of 14 years, Ed, who has been on the frontlines of my ever evolving creative pursuits. He has seen me at my worst and helped bring me to my best. Giving me the support and push to fully realize my dream has been the most amazing thing anyone has done for me and I want to make him proud.

Website: Starbunco.etsy.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/starbunco/

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/rhonda-mancini-9134aa31

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.