All across the Outer Banks are artists doing their best to beautify this place while still finding time to make a living and enjoy this wonderful place they call home. In this edition of Get to Know a Local, you’ll meet one of them: Kennedy Fletcher of Buxton. Known as @thebuxtonbutterfly, Kennedy is an artist who makes jewelry and paints murals all around the Outer Banks. Her seven butterfly wing murals at SuperWings in Kitty Hawk are popular places to stop and snap a photo. Read on to learn more about this young resident of the Outer Banks.
How long have you lived on the Outer Banks and how did you end up here?
I’ve lived here for five summers now, and I travel in the winter. I moved here after watching two of my best friends get murdered in front of me and I just couldn’t stay in my hometown in Pennsylvania anymore. I moved in with my grandma in Buxton, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.
What do you do for a living and how did you get into this line of work?
I am an artist and influencer. I started my jewelry business when I traveled in my van out West and started rock hounding and wire wrapping the crystals I found. My online businesses promote healthy, conscious, natural, loving qualities, and I encourage artists and small businesses to make their hobbies their careers. The muraling business, which is my newest endeavor, started when my grandma was in the hospital for a few months. I wanted to surprise her by making her garden look even more beautiful, so I painted her shed. She loves butterflies, so I painted a huge interactive set of butterfly wings for her. Her place is on the Back Road in Buxton, and this was my first mural, which is where my name @thebuxtonbutterfly comes from. She loved the mural, and others passing by loved it as well and asked if I could paint their sheds. So when I returned this summer, I made it into a business and have been busy with murals daily for more than three months. I’m booked until I leave the country again in October. I actually had to hire five other people to help because the demand is so high.
What did you do before you were in this business?
Before the muraling business and my other businesses, I was a preschool teacher and daycare worker.
What motivates you to work hard in your line of work?
What motivates me to work so hard is the joy that these murals bring to others. I love creating interactive art, such as the wings, because it gets people outside, taking pics and making memories they can look back at and smile. The second biggest thing that motivates me is that my goal or mission, if you will, is to change the world for the better. Not only by making it more colorful with the murals, but also all of the money that I make is saved or invested into all of my plans and businesses that are going to change the world. We aren’t meant to suffer, fight and be controlled. We could live, once again, in the garden of Eden, pure and natural without dis-ease, and it could happen overnight practically, but in order to do that, you need power and unfortunately (or fortunately for those of us working so hard to reach this goal) money is power. So I’m able to make great money off of my businesses, which I am saving and investing to make big changes in the world. I always think big. Nothing is impossible. I’m not just trying to make my own life better, but the lives of every single being on earth. This is my #1 motivation to work 12+ hour days, almost every day.
What’s your favorite OBX town or village?
My favorite village is the one I live in, Buxton.
What is your favorite thing about living on the Outer Banks?
My favorite thing about living here is the community. There are so many amazing artists, small business owners and really amazing humans who live here and make the atmosphere and vibrations of the area so high. We just bounce our creative energy all around and off of each other and it feels amazing to have this kind of community.
What is your favorite season on the Outer Banks?
My favorite season is high season, summer, when everyone is here enjoying themselves and all that the OBX has to offer. Some businesses and people can get burnt out before the season ends, but I know many others who really thrive off of this constant go-go-go, high energy, that is present during the summer.
What do you do for fun?
For fun, I enjoy working out at the gym and going for runs/walks, crafting, traveling, treasure hunting and working on my businesses.
What’s your favorite beach access?
My favorite beach access is the one right down the road from me — the old lighthouse site.
Describe your perfect day off.
I try to take off days, but I can’t remember the last day that I didn’t have business calls or messages to reply to at the very least. My perfect day off would be spent running in the woods, swimming in the ocean, napping in the sunshine, eating all the best smoothies and nice cream that I can whip up and spending time with my partner.
Do you see more sunrises or sunsets?
Both. I wake up at 4:30 am to hit the gym by 5 and watch the sunrise from the outside workout area. I work until sunset and I get to enjoy it as well. It’s a blessing to be able to see them both.
What’s one thing you wish more Outer Banks visitors knew?
One thing that I wish visitors knew, if they can’t see it and feel it already, is that us locals really love and care for the land and our businesses. So when visiting, please be patient with restaurants and small businesses. We’re all trying our hardest and we aren’t just workers, we’re humans too. And care for the land as if it’s your own, which it really is. Earth is our second home besides our bodies, but we share Her (the earth), so we’re all responsible for keeping Her clean and not damaging or destroying the landscape.
Where do you go on vacation?
For vacation, I typically go to a new country each winter. I’ve been to Mexico many times, Ecuador, Colombia and driven all through Central America. I usually settle down for a month or so in each country. This year I will go to southeast Asia.
For a celebratory dinner, would you rather order take-out, go out to eat or cook something at home?
I would rather cook at home. I’m vegan, and there are not many options for us around here. Also, to be honest, I know that I put a lot of love into the food I make, which really is the main ingredient. You are what you eat.
What is your favorite local seafood?
I don’t eat seafood, but I can make really good vegan tuna salad from jackfruit or crab cakes from dandelions!
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing about my job(s) is seeing my impact on others. This can be anything from their happiness, consciousness, health, wealth or simply showing them that anything is possible, no matter what your background is or where you came from. I’m a living example. I’ve seen and been through the worst of the worst, you could say. I was 100 pounds heavier, depressed, anxious, had PTSD — all of which I healed on my own, with my own willpower. It wasn’t easy by any means and I’m far from perfect, but I make the conscious decision to be 1% better every single day.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is answering my phone. It sounds so simple, but when I have so many hands-on activities to do, along with taking care of my health, my phone is the last thing that’s on my mind some days. But I have to do it for my businesses, so I’m working on it, improving daily and considering getting a secretary.
Do you have any side hustles?
My side hustle would be my jewelry business I suppose. I had a photography business at one point, and I still enjoy photography, but mostly just for myself. My interests change, and I try everything. I used to sell nice cream (vegan ice cream). I love trading, I sell my waist beads on the beaches in Mexico. Really whatever I feeling like doing, I take a shot at it, because ... why not?
Do you have any pet projects or is there a local nonprofit that you’re passionate about?
I’m not aware of any local nonprofits. I guess I just haven’t looked into it since I invest my own money into my own projects like that. When I travel, I give my clothes away to the homeless before flying back home. I also seem to attract at least one animal into my life during my travels, which I can’t help but rescue. I’ve saved about 20+ animals during my travels so far. A kitten in Colombia, three kittens, a big dog and four puppies I drove across the country from Colorado to Pennsylvania and found loving homes for. My parents kept the big dog. Two kittens in Mexico rode back with me and my parents kept them. There as a big dog in Guatemala who was pregnant and had eight puppies while we cared for her — we found a foster home for them. It’s not something I set out to do, they literally just come to me and my heart is too big to leave them on the streets or in bad situations.
What’s one item on your bucket list?
One thing on my bucket list is to visit all the countries. There are so many, but nothing is impossible!
Photos courtesy of Kennedy Fletcher. All the murals pictured are at SuperWings in Kitty Hawk.