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Costa Mesa ‘multipreneur’ Kara Duffy thriving during the pandemic by keeping busy

Costa Mesa resident Kara Duffy is founder of "The Powerful Ladies" online community.
Costa Mesa resident Kara Duffy is a “multipreneur,” business coach and founder of “The Powerful Ladies” online community.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Costa Mesa resident Kara Duffy calls herself a “multipreneur,” someone who is able to juggle several projects at once.

What that has meant during the coronavirus pandemic is that Duffy, an entrepreneur, business consultant and coach, has not had a lack of things to do.

“When people are talking about being bored during COVID, I tell them they can call me and I will happily outsource some of my work,” Duffy said with a laugh.

Duffy, 38, has continued to use the resources available to her to help her clients. During the quarantine, she offered free business Q&A sessions on Monday mornings.

She also still hosts her weekly podcast, interviewing female leaders through the Powerful Ladies community that she founded six years ago.

“These are women who are not only chefs or artists or entrepreneurs, but they care about making an impact,” she said. “They want to pay it forward. They’re doing work in areas that matter to them. I’m not partial to where they are on the political spectrum, but are they doing more and are they taking an extra step? That’s been a really incredible experience.”

Duffy was used to Zoom before the pandemic, as she said more than half of her clients are outside of California. So after the death of George Floyd in May, she also quickly launched a free Zoom series — “A Powerful Conversation About America.” Her sister, Jordan, a Los Angeles-based audio engineer, has aided in that.

The first topic of the Powerful Conversation series is racism, and the third event is set for Friday. Registration is available online.

“I just said, ‘I can’t be the owner of Powerful Ladies and I can’t run a business called Powerful Ladies if we’re not going to be powerful about every situation that’s happening,’” Kara Duffy said. “So I called up some of the [powerful] women I know who are women of color, and I said, ‘We need to talk about this.’ Obviously, I’m [white and] privileged up the wazoo, so I can’t be the authority, but I can make a space for other people to share their ideas and open dialogue.”

Duffy, who has a bachelor’s degree and MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship from Clark University in Massachusetts, is all about the discussions. She said she values the community she has created, especially during the pandemic. As she pointed out, being an entrepreneur can be lonely at times.

Costa Mesa resident Kara Duffy has been busier than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.
Costa Mesa resident Kara Duffy has been busier than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

While the word “pivot” has been perhaps overused during the pandemic, Duffy just smiles when it’s brought up. She doesn’t mind the word, but she sees it as the last step in a four-step process.

“We just need to first pause, reprioritize what we’re doing, prune and then pivot,” she said. “We can’t jump to pivoting until we know why. I had to do that, times 20 for every client, for my own businesses. It was constant working, trying to make sure that everything was staying afloat.

“I don’t remember who said it, but what’s really stuck with me for this whole experience is that everyone’s freaking out about the life they used to have. But what if you didn’t even want it? How do you get to reinvent whatever you want to be or be doing? It’s a great excuse right now to throw everything out the window that didn’t suit you before.”

Duffy’s approach seems to be working for her clients. One of them is Nancy Eaton, a Newport Beach resident who is a Marie Kondo organizational consultant. The coronavirus also changed that occupation in March, since Eaton wasn’t comfortable going into people’s homes after that. But Duffy has been working with her on other aspects of her Inspired Living business, like marketing and photos.

“The world’s your oyster, as far as Kara is concerned,” Eaton said. “Anything you want to do, whatever you’re passionate about, we make it happen. It’s great … [the coronavirus] wasn’t like a problem. It was more of an opportunity, to take advantage of the things that you need to get done or new markets or ways of doing your business. I know a lot of her clients from being online in Zoom calls with a lot of them, and everybody’s just pumped and ready to go. Nobody’s sitting around going, ‘Oh my God, I’m dying.’”

Duffy’s message during COVID-19 is one of perseverance and community. She said she has another business she’s planning to launch soon, though she declined to give details.

“Who can you be around that’s going to help you get to that next step, keep you motivated, keep you inspired?” she said. “If you’re left to your own devices, it’s so easy to give up way earlier than you need to. So often, the thing you need, the one thing that’s missing, somebody has it. They say that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. One person’s breakdown is somebody else’s obvious answer and solution.”

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