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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Kim Rico and Her Path to Drops of Honey Designs

Jan 27, 2016 01:00PM ● By Ronda Alvey

Uncommonly Creative

February 2016

By Jordan Venema

Photos by Ala Cortez

As a noun or label, creative can carry with it certain connotations, because more than a few artists have been accused of pretense before. But a real creative is actually the type of individual who desires to create common ground with others, rather than setting herself apart.

In a sense, then, Kim Rico, 28, could very well be called the consummate creative. The Visalia local has created for herself a savvy reputation as a business woman with a creative touch, by starting her own styling company, Drops of Honey, as well as managing wedding venue Historic Seven Sycamores Ranch. But Rico also started Common Table, a dinner hosted at Seven Sycamores that brings together community creatives while offering an opportunity to share their common stories.

Equally, Rico prefers not to be limited or labeled, but desires to be known for her ability to relate to others, which is a kind of mission statement that she incorporates into her personal and business ventures. For Rico, being a true creative means slowing down to capture moments, to tell stories, to take the time to get to know someone.

“I feel my creative process is to get to know my clients, know their stories, figure out what they love to do, and invoke that in creating décor that displays their story,” explains Rico, who, as Drops of Honey, designs and styles clients’ weddings and events. The process, she says, isintentional and personal, running contrary to the typical business model of rush, rush, rush.

Even she admits to getting caught up in the rat race, though. Two years ago, she took on the role of venue manager at Seven Sycamores while running Drops of Honey on the side. There were moments during those two years, says Rico, where things were utterly chaotic. Creatives, she admits, are “constantly hungry to take on as many jobs as we can, to make ends meet and try to grow our reputation in business.” 

“But for me,” continues Rico, “I’ve realized that doing more doesn’t equate to success or growth. If anything, the increase of business has actually made me do the opposite.”  

There’s a surprising correlation for Rico, then, and perhaps most everybody, between slowing down and growth. For Rico, that personal and business growth goes back to her childhood. “Everything,” says Rico, referring to her work as a stylist, “has originated for me as a house memory. I have really vivid memories as kid growing up and making sure dinner time was important.” That meant paying attention to details, using the fine silver, arranging things just so, and “using design elements to make sure people feel welcome.”

For Rico, then, a creative exists to make others feel welcome, as well as using the stories that have already been told, to help create something new. She applied this method at her current job at Seven Sycamores, helping to create a brand and story that sets the venue apart.

Rico explains, “Seven Sycamores didn’t open as a wedding venue.” There was the McKellar family first, the farm, the story behind the venue, all those elements – imagery, stories, memories – which she sought to incorporate into its brand. That means, she says, that when a married couple takes a photo in front of a wall at the venue, they’re getting more than a beautiful setting, but the personal story that goes with it. 

This year, Rico plans to expand Drops of Honey to include venue consulting to help wedding venues develop those stories, though she’ll stay on at Seven Sycamores.

Ever busy, she’ll continue to organize Common Table, which is hosted at Seven Sycamores and brings together creatives to share their experiences and personal stories. But again, while Common Table has focused on individual creativity and its application to business, she believes the creative label should widen to include more than traditional artists.

“The first Common Table, we had lawyers and teachers and ministers,” says Rico. Those who attend aren’t your “typical” creatives, she continues, but “people from different walks of life. And I think at the end of the day … as a community we all need each other. The forms of creativity are not limited to the art realms,” explains Rico, who says even accountants have their own creativity to them. For her, the Common Table is a way for people to realize how their creativity and experiences create common bonds within our community.

Is the goal of a creative, Rico asks herself, “to be profitable or to grow real relationships with my clients?” However she goes about it, Rico says with a laugh that she doesn’t exactly have a 20, 10, let alone five-year plan. But that’s part of the journey: as she helps clients develop their story, she’s also developing her own, though the pages may not yet be filled. That’s kind of the fun of it, though, and the paradox, because even though the path of creative may be difficult to figure out, it is often the most outwardly chaotic path that is really the straightest way to figuring out who you really are.  

Kim Rico, Drops of Honey

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