Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Vicky Barone of A Little Moxie Is Helping To Change Our World

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Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Vicky Barone of A Little Moxie Is Helping To Change Our World

Have confidence in your own abilities — Being an artist and working in a creative field can be challenging if you don’t pay close attention to your mindset. In order for me to truly create, I have to feel free to experiment with new ideas and techniques without being too harsh on myself. It’s easy to question that creativity and start to feel like you have “imposter syndrome.” Taking a step back to remind myself that I’m on my own creative path and my work has value is a very conscious step I remind myself to take daily.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vicky Barone.

President and Founder of A Little Moxie, LLC, Vicky Barone is an accomplished artist, illustrator and designer. Having studied and started her career in Biological Systems Engineering, she quickly realized her passion was elsewhere and began teaching herself the art of graphic design. Having developed relationships with various greeting card companies, including a successful 20 year partnership with Recycled Paper Greetings, now part of American Greetings, she launched her own brand, A Little Moxie in 2004, where she continues to add joy to the world through her artwork now featured on thousands of greeting cards, gift products and more. Barone’s diverse work uses vibrant palettes, geometric patterns and playful imagery, infusing uplifting words and heart-felt messages as well as humor into everything she produces. Through curated expression, Barone’s goal is to facilitate meaningful connection and positivity in the world. Imagery, in the form of graphics, words and colors, evokes emotions that are deepened, meaningful and inspire us to be our authentic selves. Sharing kindness in any form, allows us to choose happiness each and every day which is how Vicky hopes to bring joy into the world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was lucky enough to have the courage early on in my career to make big changes that aligned with my passion. While I wasn’t always sure what my future would be, I always made sure that whichever direction I went, I was focused on what brought me joy in that moment. When I graduated from Virginia Tech with two degrees in Biological Systems Engineering, my career path in that field was set. However, I chose to take a different direction at the time and accepted a job with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). About a year later, I realized that was not the place I was meant to be. Although I was extremely successful, with a bright future in that world, I made the scary decision to leave and teach myself skills that would eventually lead me on a very different journey. At the time, I remember feeling like I was falling behind my peers who had chosen one direct path and were now excelling beyond where I perceived myself to be. But the decision to follow my passion felt so intuitive that I couldn’t ignore it. When I landed a web director job, I thought perhaps I’d found a way to marry my creative and technical skills. But when I reached the peak of my career there, I once again reevaluated, and knowing there was still something missing, took a leap of faith and started my own business. Every one of my choices to change directions was terrifying, and each one included many challenges along the way. I think my journey is really about having the courage to jump, and the confidence to know that even if I fall, I’ll find a way to not only make it work, but find joy and fulfillment in the process.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

A number of years into my partnership with Recycled Paper Greetings, a friend and former colleague who I hadn’t spoken to in years, reached out to me via facebook. He had just found the perfect card to give his mom for Mother’s

Day, and was surprised to see my name on the back, as he wasn’t aware of the different direction my career had taken. At the time, he lived in Maryland, his mom lived in Chicago and his brother lived in California. His brother had also sent his mom a Mother’s Day card and on Mother’s Day, she took a picture of the two greeting cards she had received from her sons — the same card which just happened to be mine!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of my biggest endeavors to date has been Kindness Cards. Created in 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt like people really needed something to make themselves and others smile. The cards were a way to remind ourselves and others that we are all in this together. People could order the free set of cards to give to their friends and family, a stranger in need of a little encouragement, or keep for themselves to remind them that kindness matters. When I initially ordered the cards, which were given as packs of 30, they were purchased as 15 individual cards and my team and I had to collate each deck of 30 cards manually. Within the first week of announcing the initiative, we received orders from every state in the U.S. My small but mighty team rallied together to get the job done but I still had to recruit numerous friends and family to help us create the decks until we were through the initial inventory. My garage became a working supply chain filled with long hours, lots of cards and a ton of pizza for all!

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

I’ve been giving away free kindness cards since mid-pandemic and could never have imagined the global impact that this initiative has made. The purpose of the kindness cards program is to give people a way to support each other during the challenges the last few years have presented. I’ve heard from hundreds of people how through the small gesture of sharing these cards with people around them, they’ve been able to change the course of someone’s day, even if just for a moment. My hope is that these simple, yet profound gestures of kindness can create ripples that will together, have a significant impact. We’ve now given away over 275,000 cards to date and I know that this is just the beginning.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

As I’ve mentioned, I hear from hundreds of people who have given away my free kindness cards and made a huge impact on someone else. However, there’s one story that absolutely stands out. In the middle of the pandemic, a woman wrote to me to share that her father, who lived far away from her, had just been diagnosed with cancer. She started sending him kindness cards to lift his spirit during this difficult time. Not only did the small gesture help to lift his spirits, he was able to pay it forward by handing them out to other patients in the cancer center. If this does not exemplify the true meaning of kindness, I don’t know what does.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Be honest, have Compassion and empathy, and disconnect from your digital sources of information and inundation. Take the time to really see and hear the people around you and be conscious of how your actions can impact others. The effect of social media on our society is enormous. The reliance of information from external sources to tell you how to think and feel, and the lack of empathy that is inherent in a digital world, can really have negative effects on self-esteem, mindset and overall mental health. We should all spend more time unplugged from our devices and work on interacting with each other through human acts of kindness and empathy.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think true leadership involves not only being an advocate for your own cause, but also living your core values in every aspect of your life; having the courage to communicate effectively while also genuinely inspiring others to follow your lead. I think effective leaders are people who can listen with empathy, have compassion, identify and accept that sometimes they need help from other sources and can put their egos aside to find the answers that serve the greater good.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. Have confidence in your own abilities

Being an artist and working in a creative field can be challenging if you don’t pay close attention to your mindset. In order for me to truly create, I have to feel free to experiment with new ideas and techniques without being too harsh on myself. It’s easy to question that creativity and start to feel like you have “imposter syndrome.” Taking a step back to remind myself that I’m on my own creative path and my work has value is a very conscious step I remind myself to take daily.

2. Know When To Delegate

Being a solo entrepreneur for over 20 years, I now know that I can’t do everything myself. While I may be capable of it, my time is valuable and it’s important to identify when delegating tasks makes more sense than me trying to be an expert in every aspect of my business. Find good people you can rely on and then step back and trust them to do their thing.

3. You’ll figure it out

This job requires learning new things every single day. Sometimes problems seem too big to tackle and the solutions aren’t immediately obvious. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But breaking down the problem step by step and solving one small issue at a time can lead to big breakthroughs. Taking a step back, giving the obstacle some space and thinking about it from a different perspective can also be helpful. Regardless of the strategy, the key is having the confidence of knowing that I will figure it out and therefore be able to move forward.

4. Have Patience

Big careers and experience don’t happen overnight. It’s easy to want to rush the process, but having patience and making progress each and every day will eventually get you to the place you’ve been striving to be.

5. Have Fun

While this one seems more elusive when you’re in the middle of juggling a million different tasks and making difficult decisions that could impact the health of your business, remembering to have some fun along the way is crucial. If you find yourself stuck in a rut, take a break and do something that brings you joy. You’ll return to the task at hand with the positive mindset and energy you need to find the right solution.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think the word kindness speaks to more than just a polite gesture. It speaks of empathy and compassion. The world feels much more polarized given the social and political atmosphere over the last few years. Social change related to equality is something the world needs to embrace. Seeing a human being as another human being — different but the same — with the same right to every basic human need, is a shift that is absolutely necessary in our society. It saddens me to know that there is still so much hate and bigotry that exists in the world. It’s an enormous, complex issue, but one that needs to be addressed and dismantled one piece at a time. Progress towards this change is rooted in the word kindness. If people could act with compassion and empathy, then the path to a more equitable world could potentially be less difficult. I hope that my Kindness Cards are in fact that small but mighty movement that helps to move the needle in both small and big ways.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Do Not Go Where The Path May Lead, Go Instead Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail -Emerson

I’ve always loved this quote because it speaks to finding your own way. Instead of following what everyone else is doing, it speaks to the courage it takes to branch out in your own direction and solve problems in ways that haven’t even been conceived yet. I’ve taken my own unique path to get where I am today, and I truly believe that the culmination of all of my experiences has brought my own unique perspective to the table.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have a private breakfast or lunch with Reese Witherspoon. I’ve been a fan since way back in the day when Legally Blonde was released. I love watching how influential she has been in breaking stereotypes related to women in business and empowering women in general. She exudes positivity and through companies like Hello Sunshine is

changing the narrative for women. She is also an accomplished entrepreneur and with everything she has going on, she still manages to take the time for her family. I find her to be an inspiration.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

IG: vicky_barone

FB: @VickyBaroneDesigns


This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Vicky Barone of A Little Moxie Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.