Poet, broker, painter and more: Kate Buckley is a woman of many talents, inspired above all by home
By LYNETTE BRASFIELD
Photos by Mary Hurlbut
Since her childhood, Kate Buckley has been actively seeking the answer to a question posed in Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day: Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?
“I know it sounds impossible, but I’m interested in everything,” Buckley says, sitting on a white couch in her beautiful Laguna home, which she has decorated in a gorgeously contemporary, yet eclectic style. “My mind is always telling me, let’s explore this, let’s explore that.”
For Buckley, then, the question of “what it is [she] plans to do” has never, and probably will never offer a single answer, and for her that’s a good thing. Over the years, she’s investigated many different fields, from art to health and nutrition to business – and she has several accomplishments in each of these areas.
(Given the above, in a weak attempt at humor, I asked Buckley what she wasn’t interested in, or perhaps just hasn’t done yet. She thought for a while. “Calculus,” she said. “I can’t do calculus. Or surgery. I’m not a musician, though I love Brazilian jazz.”
She says this with her brow just slightly furrowed, in a completely unpretentious way, and I have a strange feeling that after I leave, she might just study some math, or perhaps check out a medical encyclopedia, or sign up to learn the saxophone, because why not?)
Let’s take a closer look at Kate Buckley’s many-splendored life.
Hitting a home run with domain names
Working as a broker for the Castello Brothers, Buckley recently scored big, selling www.rate.com for $725,000, the fourth biggest domain sale reported in 2016, according to The Domain Industry News Magazine. She specializes in ultra-premium domains, website names with the greatest value.
“I met and began working with the Castellos back in 1998, when they had the foresight to accumulate domain names,” she says. “At that early time in the Internet’s history, few people predicted their future value. That’s been a key part of my success.”
Domain names mark a company’s home on the Internet, of course, and are therefore a key part of a company’s branding strategy. Brand management is another skill at which Buckley excels. She offers marketing services through her company, Buckley Media Group.
Domain names brought Buckley to Laguna from Kentucky via New York and Palm Springs: after co-launching www.palmsprings.com, she focused on www.lagunabeach.com, and once she had explored our multi-faceted city, decided that this was a place that reflected her own personality.
Kate believes in good, clean eating and knows how to make that happen
Buckley is also an accredited life coach, and has worked with CEOs and others on many aspects of their lives ranging from nutrition to business and romantic challenges.
“I like to think that by reframing our stories, we can reclaim our past in a positive way, especially as no one has perfect memories, another aspect of the mind that fascinates me,” she says.
Poems inspired by Kentucky, her place of birth, win many prizes
Somehow Buckley also finds time to write, to frame her own stories, many inspired by her Kentucky home, where she spends part of her year.
Poems that appear in her two books, A Wild Region and Follow Me Down – as well as numerous literary journals – have won the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and the Gabehart Prize for imaginative writing.
What do poetry, domain name sales and brand marketing have in common, I wondered?
“All involve observation, strategy and detective work to arrive at the right place, to provide a sense of shared experience,” she says. “And they demand creativity, and curiosity, which has informed my whole life. I started writing poetry at the age of three and a half. I’m high energy and I’m always looking for solutions to challenges.”
Not surprisingly, Buckley describes herself as a serial entrepreneur – and more surprisingly for someone who in conversation appears so grounded – a mystic.
I ask her what that means, to be a mystic. She thinks for a while, her hands curled around a mug of Earl Grey tea, her Cavalier King Charles spaniel Murphy nestled happily by her side.
Murphy the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is Kate’s constant, adoring companion
“When I’m in the woods in Kentucky, I often have the sense that I’m downloading the voices and emotions of others, living or dead, who have also walked among the trees, generations earlier,” says the ninth-generation Kentuckian, who loves to immerse herself in nature.
(It’s interesting to me to hear words such as download and bandwidth in conversation with Buckley, and to realize how closely her worlds intertwine.)
She hastens to clarify that the images she senses are not always positive.
“The beautiful and the brutal necessarily coexist,” she says. “That’s the great mystery of life.”
These preoccupations are evident in her poems, many of which take as their themes the malleability of memory and the transformational nature of landscape.
Her paintings also reflect these themes.
Click on photo for a larger image
Kate Buckley is surrounded by beauty of her own making
Because, yes, Kate Buckley is also an artist. Her paintings adorn the walls of her Laguna Beach home, which is decorated in pink, cinnamon and green tones and seems to beg for coverage in Architectural Digest.
Buckley is a yogi, and loves Ritual Arts Yoga here in town on South Coast Highway. Teacher Cole Jacobs is a favorite of hers. She’s a hiker who loves our wilderness trails. She likes to cook and to garden. And to travel. And antiquing.
Volunteering is another interest
Buckley is also a serial volunteer.
“Just yesterday, I received news that I’m going to be a Big Sister to a young girl in Dana Point who shares many of my interests,” she tells me. “I can’t wait to meet her.”
Buckley is a past and present volunteer for the Friendship Shelter and the Peace Exchange.
With her friend Gretchen Westgaard, she co-founded the Laguna Beach Hiking Club, which she says is perhaps the best example of how a passion of hers, in this case hiking, has resulted in productive community building, something she loves.
One of Buckley’s next goals is the publication of a collection of short stories, one of which was shortlisted for the prestigious UK-based Bridport Prize.
At this point in the interview, my mental mailbox had reached capacity, so to speak, though I guessed that there were many more interesting topics to cover with Kate Buckley in the future.
I said goodbye to her and Murphy (what a dog!), thinking how lucky Laguna Beach is that Kate Buckley calls the city her home and to benefit from her generosity, her multiple marketing talents, and her musings.