By Samantha Skye
Olivia Mansion wears many hats.
As the co-founder, chief marketing officer and director of communications and artist relations at Fairgrounds St. Pete, Mansion is passionate about art and wellness and works to bring the two together through her entrepreneurial endeavors.
“In my role, I have the pleasure of supporting our artists in bringing their artwork to life, telling the story of Fairgrounds St. Pete, and working with our founders to shape the direction of the company,” Olivia said in a Beyond the Conversations interview. “It is a love letter to Florida.”
Fairgrounds showcases the beauty that is in Florida so that we can collectively preserve it.
From upstate New York, Mansion and her family would vacation in Florida and, on one of those trips, she learned about the University of Tampa and knew it was where she belonged.
“I came down to Florida for college and then, just like any Latino family that can’t let their kids go, my parents actually ended up moving down to Tampa,” Mansion said.
Mansion has a master’s in education, English linguistics and cross-cultural studies from Brown University and a master’s in entrepreneurship from The University of Tampa, according to her profile on the Fairgrounds website.
On an exclusive tour of Fairgounds for the Tampa Bay Times, Mansion said “If you’re one of those people that loves mysteries, who likes digging deep into things that are curious, you’ll just love it.”
She and her business partner help employ artists at Fairgrounds St. Pete, which ensures fair compensation and equitable opportunities.
“We have a dream team. Everyone here is committed, they’re creative, they’re kind and we’re very collaborative. . . Everybody’s very talented and everybody has their own expertise,” she said.
She considers their collective energy quite powerful.
Mansion is a big proponent of health and wellness, practicing self-love and self-care whenever possible.
“I believe wholeheartedly in wellness and being a whole person… I’m definitely a seeker so I’ve tried many different things, but I came across breathwork and I tried Wim Hof (a famous breathwork teacher),” she said.
Hof’s process became a gateway for Mansion to feel how powerful our breath is and how it’s a free tool when used wisely.
On Instagram, she calls herself the “boujie breathwork teacher,” with the tagline “Helping you have that Main Character energy using your breath.” She helps her breathwork clients de-stress and focus on being present more often than not, which is a feat in today’s overstimulating world.
Mansion even has a podcast called Immersive Breathwork. One breathwork technique is free, but her online course costs $11.11, which is considered a sign to become aware and conscious of your actions.
“Numbers are the universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth,” according to the late St. Augustine de Hippo.
“We have to prioritize ourselves and our well-being before anything or anyone,” Mansion said.
She swears by her routine of running, drinking lots of water, meditating, breathwork, journaling and taking a moment of gratitude outside surrounded by nature.
Her husband, Mikhail Mansion, is an interdisciplinary artist and engineer who uses technology to release creative expression and bring immersive experiences to life, according to ArtScape. His work can be experienced in a permanent exhibit at Fairgrounds St. Pete. Together, they founded OK! Transmit back in 2018, where one can attend talks, presentations, workshops and experimental performances focused on innovation and new media.
Chris Parks, known as Palehorse, and his wife have curated, then hosted and organized, the Shine Mural Festival since 2015. In 2018, he met Mansion who told him about Fairgrounds St. Pete and then, in 2020, they had their first Zoom call to kick off a prosperous partnership. According to Parks, Olivia is always in a cheerful mood and has a contagious charm. She’s very organized and professional.
Parks believes he was the first artist they contacted about the concept. What interested him about the opportunity was having the creative freedom to really imagine the space and bring his vision to life without working from a brief.
“She was really open to the ideas that I had during the lockdown,” he said.
Getting to create a full, immersive space with the help of producers and few restrictions were what sold him on working with Fairgrounds St. Pete.
Posters, pins and stickers are a few items Parks has to offer in the gift store, but the items that have been moving the most are his printed shirts and hand-embellished skateboards.
“I’ve enjoyed having a little shop locally … and the immersive space online” to use as a showroom for his work, Parks said.
His work is based on Hindu mythology and meditation, as well as symbols.
“I’m a huge fan of his work professionally and his wellness work… He has a weekly meditation session that he hosts on Wednesday nights,” Mansion said.
“Entrepreneurship is an extension of ourselves… It’s such a creative medium. You get to just share your message, share your product, service, with the world and help people solve a problem,” she said.
Share about your business and learn to love sales. Be confident in your ask – we’re open for business; this is our product/service and this is the price, Mansion said. And, she recommends approaching these conversations with confidence.
Some of her other tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Focus on one idea and one concept, then change your strategy around that one thing. Entrepreneurs tend to jump from one project to another without spending enough time and energy on the first one to see it succeed. It’s easy to get discouraged when something isn’t working.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and/or ask a professional for their input. “Seek those around you and see if there is even a market need for what you’re doing. Our customers validate what we do.”
- Focus on your health and well-being more than anything because what makes you a good entrepreneur is feeling complete and ready to make courageous, yet difficult decisions.
Connect with Olivia Mansion on LinkedIn to set your entrepreneurial spirit on fire.