Photo Credits: Maddie Johnson
Amanda Wilson-Ciocci is equal parts creative and analytical.
Heart-centered and headstrong… Hardworking, yet humble.
And she is determined to prove that kindness and business can coexist — in fact, she thinks it’s necessary that they do.
Amanda is a Gemini. So it kind of makes sense.
Amanda truly is a “mother of entrepreneurs.”She is also the founder of The Monarch & Co., an online business that helps heart-centered entrepreneurs and CEOs build, grow, launch and scale their businesses. Known to her clients as “launch strategist, magical dream organizing fairy, biz coach and bestie,” and so much more, Amanda truly is a “mother of entrepreneurs.” It all comes back to the fact that she is passionate about helping good people do good things.
And through The Monarch & Co., she does just that.
Amanda only launched her business two years ago, but she has been gathering the skills to run it all her life.
As a teen, she had always planned to attend business school. Instead, after graduating from high school, Amanda embarked on a three month backpacking trip through Europe with her high school boyfriend — now husband — Kiel.
“We fell in love with art and travel and got an appreciation for old and new,” she said.
Amanda and Kiel met in grade eight and started dating when they were just 16-years-old. They got married at 25, and now have three beautiful children all under the age of 10 — and they have been collaborating in both business and in life all the while.
“We’ve had a couple lifetimes together,” laughed Amanda.
Throughout their 20s, Amanda and Kiel attended art school together and then Teachers College, taking turns staying home to take care of the kids while the other attended classes.
On weekends, the young family would escape to Collingwood, which was just a short drive from where they were living in Orillia at the time. They fell in love with the area, but after getting pregnant again, they decided to move home to Guelph to raise their kids closer to family.
In their spare time, Amanda and Kiel would always come back to art.
After creating separately for years but always supporting each other's work, they decided to try completing a collaborative piece. Using layers of acrylic paint, gel mediums, photographs and washes, the final result was a unique painting with two perspectives on one canvas. They had amalgamated their art, so they merged their names as well, and Kiam Studio was born.
“There are a lot of artists who are super protective of their work, and we get that feedback all of the time from other artists, ‘how do you let them touch your canvas?’” said Amanda. “But it’s because you trust the process and the person.”
They opened a collaborative studio space in Guelph, called Art in the Ward, so other artists could come in and create alongside them.
“We said let’s stop talking about doing it and just do it, because when we do the things we love, we actually feel super excited about it,Always the Gemini, Amanda was making strides in her business life as well.
After working for years as an executive assistant at the university, learning project management, accounting, and other behind the scenes aspects of the business world, she began working for her brother-in-law. She continued as an executive assistant, but this time specializing in launches. The job was remote, so her and Kiel could continue pursuing their passion for art — and travel.
They pulled their children out of school, deciding to “world school” them instead, and embarked on another backpacking trip to Europe, this time with three kids in tow. Collingwood remained on their mind, so when they returned home, they finally sold their house and made the move north.
“We said let’s stop talking about doing it and just do it, because when we do the things we love, we actually feel super excited about it,” she said.
When Amanda was 22-years-old, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She’s always believed in rolling with the cards you’re dealt, so even as she was receiving treatment she didn’t say she was sick, she said she was healing.
A testament to this, Kiel and Amanda decided they would always live their lives passionately, and “stop saying one day.”
“It took that really low moment to realize that we all have it within us.”“That’s part of the reason we travel. You don’t know what is around the corner, so why don’t we just do what we love, now,” Amanda said.
They arrived in Collingwood in March 2019 and Amanda was still working remotely, but only a month later, she lost her job — with absolutely no warning. Living in a new town, not knowing anyone, with a mortgage and three young kids, Amanda started desperately looking for another job. She went to three interviews in Collingwood and all of them said the same thing: she was too qualified, too talented, and they wouldn’t hire her.
“I was having a breakdown moment. I just remember the weight of the unknown, feeling so helpless and hopeless,” said Amanda. “I knew I had all of these skills, but I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
As she sat in her car crying after the third interview, Amanda called her mom, who encouraged her to start her own business.
“A light bulb moment hit. My mom is an entrepreneur, she runs her own business, and I just thought, duh. Absolutely,” said Amanda. “It took that really low moment to realize that we all have it within us.”
Two weeks later she had built a website, structured her offers, and her business was born.
“Your impact doesn’t have to be this grand, universal thing. If I help one client launch something good, then that good will spread.”Amanda branded herself as The Monarch EA because she knew the executive assistant world well. The name was also a play on the monarchy, because she had a joke with her family that they come from royalty (but really, her grandmother just spent a stint as a housecleaner for the Queen).
A few months later, Amanda realized her real business was helping clients with strategy, so in March 2020, she rebranded as The Monarch & Co.
The monarch is significant because it represents her grandmother. Amanda was very close with her, and growing up she remembered that there were always monarchs around her house. Her grandmother passed away from cancer when Amanda was in her 20s, so when she was diagnosed with cancer herself not long after, Amanda was scared. But when she learned the symbol for thyroid cancer was a butterfly, she knew everything was going to be okay.
“When the monarch finds you, when it lands on you, you keep it. I don’t know why, but it’s a good luck piece,” said Amanda. “My grandma always loved them.”
The monarch now represents Amanda, and how she helps entrepreneurs who are in their cocoon spread their wings and become a butterfly.
“It’s this ripple effect. The butterfly effect,” she said. “Your impact doesn’t have to be this grand, universal thing. If I help one client launch something good, then that good will spread.”
Amanda’s goal has always been to work for or with good people, and building this business finally allowed her to do that on her own terms.
“I knew I had the knowledge and skills to really help propel other businesses, so I made an agreement with myself that whoever I help propel, they need to be heart-centered. Doing something good for their community, for their family or for the world. It has to be positive,” said Amanda. “No dicks allowed.”
The “& Co.” comes from Amanda’s love of collaboration.
“You can’t do everything yourself. I love that about community and collaboration. I really believe you should stick to your genius zone and get other people involved,” she said.
And for that reason alone, she is so thankful she found The Foundry. Amanda attended her first Common Ground gathering last February, only two weeks before COVID-19 threw everything online.
“This community has been my rock, especially through the pandemic,” said Amanda. “I have made so many collaborations through this space. I found my people.”
Amanda has a home office, but she still works out of The Foundry once a week, calling it her “business studio.”
And every Wednesday evening, Amanda goes home to a beautifully prepared meal, and her family celebrates both her successes and those of her clients.“Where art is my creative space, when I come here I am in a different headspace in business. I tap into a different kind of creativity,” she said.
As her business continues to grow, so does the impact she has on the world, but Amanda humbly admits her favourite thing about it all is watching other people realize their potential.
Every Wednesday, Amanda has a momentum call with members of her signature program, Launch With Impact, to help them stay accountable and feel supported.
“I love those little sparks every Wednesday. The connection and the fact that I can hold space for them to see the potential and possibilities in themselves,” she said.
And every Wednesday evening, Amanda goes home to a beautifully prepared meal, and her family celebrates both her successes and those of her clients.
“Gratitude is huge for us, so we go around and say what we are grateful for,” said Amanda. “It celebrates every week of life, those moments you might overlook. Just appreciate the small things. Big and small moments.”