Maggie O’Reilly

Maggie O’Reilly

Show Details

In this episode, we explore Art and Entrepreneurship as I chat with Maggie O’Reilly a designer who own an ethical and sustainable fashion brand in Chicago,Illinois. Travel and culture have had a huge influence in Maggie’s life. She moved away from home, which is the south-side of Chicago, to live and work in Mexico and then Argentina. So the drive to combining her love and passion for textiles, color and pattern along with that wanderlust spirit led Maggie to create her own fashion brand which is centered around designing and utilizing textiles in one of a kind collection of home goods and women’s fashion accessories.

Maggie loves connecting with other business owners from all over the world – either via Instagram, social media or even during trade shows. She says if she finds someone interesting she is right there, saying hello and making an honest connection. Maggie brings a lot of passion into everything that she does and I know you are going to enjoy learning more about her during this episode.

Show Notes

Karthika interviews Maggie O’Reilly the designer and founder of an ethical and sustainable fashion brand in Chicago,Illinois called Mayta Collection. Travel and culture have had a huge influence in Maggie’s life and the drive to combine her passion for heritage, textiles, colors and pattern led Maggie to develop Mayta, an ethical and sustainable fashion brand. As an entrepreneur, community development and giving back are also extremely important to Maggie as she strives to doing good in the areas she works in.

The Transcript

Karthika: Welcome. Maggie, thank you so much for joining me on CulturallyOurs. I am so excited to be chatting with you today and I cannot wait to dig into your entrepreneurial journey.

Maggie: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited and I’m eager to find out how this goes.

Karthika: Absolutely. So perhaps before we kind of get into the meat of the questions, can you tell us a little bit about sort of who you are, where you’re from, just to kind of set the stage?

Maggie: Sure. So I’m born and raised on the south side of Chicago in an Irish neighborhood called Beverly. I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life, despite all the crazy weather. But through the years I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to travel to so many cities and countries and so it feels really good to call Chicago home. And in fact, I moved back to my exact same neighborhood and a block away from where my parents lived. So I really like my community, my neighborhood. We have a great entrepreneur group of people and we really enjoy each other’s company.

Karthika: So born and raised here in Chicago. That is awesome. I know Chicago weather has really been testing our limits these past couple of weeks. So what work do you do? You mentioned entrepreneurial group and stuff like that. So can you elaborate a little bit in what you do today?

Maggie: Sure. So I own a sustainable and ethical fashion brand called Mayta Collection. And what it is, is a brand that is inspired by travel culture, the preservation of artists and traditions within the two countries of Peru and Morocco. And really I had such a passion for textiles and color and pattern that I had this idea to take those textiles and transform them and do something unique and beautiful and one of a kind. So my brand tends to focus on lots of bold colors, mostly around weaving traditions in Peru and Morocco. And really I enjoy focusing on designing and utilizing the textiles in a collection of both home goods and women’s fashion accessories.

Karthika: That sounds absolutely fascinating. I know nothing of the fashion industry, but I think you said a few things, which really peaked my interest. And is this something that you went to school for or how did you get into ethical fashion?

Maggie: Well, I definitely did not go to school for it. My background is very much science based. So my entire college university, class schedule was based around chemistry, biology, physics, all of that exciting stuff. However, back in high school I had a strong desire to learn a secondary language, so I picked up Spanish and, really got immersed into it, went into college, studied all through college, decided to study abroad in Mexico, spent some time in Argentina. And really that study abroad experience opened up my eyes to the world because I hadn’t traveled much before then. And honestly from there, I couldn’t get enough of the markets and learning the language and understanding the culture and learning their recipes for cooking. And I’m having these one on one experiences with artisans and, you know, eventually I ended up marrying my husband who’s from Peru. So that was set up to happen. Because I was so immersed in the culture.

Karthika: That is incredibly fascinating. And you’re right, I mean, when you are of that mindset, I think you attract people and experiences. What made you decide to become an entrepreneur? I mean, you love travel, you love culture, you love the lifestyle. But what was it that made you take it from that point to actually owning a business and kind of taking it up a notch?

Maggie: Yeah. You know, I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so my father has owned his own company all of my life. In fact, our entire basement is like transformed into his office where he has his office, all of his samples, his administrative assistant is down there as well. So all my life, I grew up with my dad having his business in the basement and, through college he used to invite me, he’s in the baby and children’s industry. So we used to go to Las Vegas. I’d helped him set up the booths, walk the show floor, interact with all of his customers and clients. So that’s from my dad. And then my mother actually owned a craft and kind of like artisan store. So again, all through college on my college break she’d have me working there. And it was funny because my mom and my aunt were very crafty and sewing and making things. And she came to me one time, she’s like, okay you’re going to make hair scrunchies, I’m going to show you how to sew and you’re going to sew every day and we all sell them at the store and I guarantee you that you’re gonna make money. So I remember things like that where I’d literally be sewing hair scrunchies and bring into the store and then having them sold. So I do think that that’s in my blood and I grew up and was exposed to that. It kind of was just part of my nature. So, along with seeing that and having the desire to own something for myself and really feeling passionate and enjoying all these textiles and markets that I go to, the brand just kind of developed one day.

Karthika: Yes, that is amazing. I mean, you are still surrounded by all of this growing up. So it’s almost like it’s second nature. What made you decide to go to college for all this science stuff?

Maggie: Well, so neither of my parents went to college. I was the first one that ended up going to college. And back in early high school I thought I want it to be a vet. I was obsessed with animals. I volunteered at veterinary clinics and the Shedd aquarium. And so then I thought that’s what I wanted to do. However, I went to the University of Illinois down in Champaign when I got there, it just didn’t really align with what I thought it was focused on agriculture and farming and I was very much not involved in that. I’m a city person, by a long stretch. And so I just kind of felt a disconnect, but I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to study abroad because that takes time. So I just kind of looked for another major within that area that I could pick up with and that I was good at and it just kind of fell into there and it revolved a lot around like food science and human nutrition. So I do enjoy food and cooking. So I just felt like it was a lateral move that in the end helped me achieve me being able to study abroad, learn Spanish, and take the semester off and be in Mexico. It’s sort of helped paved the way for the path I am now.

Karthika: Let’s talk the industry, and I know fashion is this huge beast of an industry and then even ethical fashion is kind of getting up to speed and it’s a lot of people doing that. So can you talk a little bit about the industry that you operate in, how competitive it is and  the kind of the dynamics of both the regular traditional fashion and ethical fashion?

Maggie: Sure. I think because I don’t come from a fashion background, I can’t really look back on the years to see what was trendy and things like that. But now that I’m in that space and I’m surrounded by it, um, I think that, you know, there is healthy competition amongst all the industries and market places and it just been a passion of mine for such a long time that I feel a very personal connection with what I’m doing. So I believe that as a brand, you can embrace other brands and other fashion brands that might be similar and you can use that as encouragement to define yourself. So I kind of fell into the path of ethical fashion simply because Peru has such great access to artisan groups and being able to use natural and plant dyes to dye the sheep’s wool that it was something that I’ve always been intrigued with. And you know, I’m very much about recycling. I mean, in college I used to be the girl that gathered everyone’s recycling and brought it to the recycling center. So it was just kind of like a natural path. But since being in the industry, I’ve really learned a lot and I’m glad that that is the direction that I went with. You know, people can talk about their brand and their product 50 different ways. But really what it boils down to is the one thing that makes the brand, which is you, the person and like how it’s different for me. So I just enjoy the crowd and the customer base that comes along with a sustainable and ethical fashion. And I do think that now it seems to be on trend and a lot of buzz about it. But I know in my heart it was something that I began and felt connected with before even realizing that it was going to become a trend.

Karthika: Right. And you know, you’re absolutely right in that a brand can be many, many things, but at the end of the day it is kind of who you are as the founder, as you know, your sort of personal, not just brand, but personal, even motivations and, kind of mindset. So that leads me very nicely into my next question to kind of what is unique about Mayta collection? What is unique about your business?

Maggie: Sure. I think one of the things that I’ve noticed just over time is that I look at a lot of different textiles, so I pulled textiles both from Peru and Morocco and I’m constantly going through seeing what’s been made, what has come through. In Morocco we do a lot of auctions where we find things and it’s just really interesting to see how each person ends up having an emotional connection with a piece. And so for me, I strive and hope that when people see my product that there’s not only an emotional connection to that maybe it brings back a memory or a thought or a moment in time that maybe either, you know, made them happy or had them think about their mother or father that had passed away, but I want them to connect with our brand and as well as our mission. So I look at it as a whole on those three basis.

Karthika:  That’s great. I love the emotional connection piece and you also kind of have it on your website that, it’s one of a kind. It’s not mass produced. So there is a little bit of that individuality, I guess a lot of that individuality in each piece. Am I right?

Maggie: Yeah. The one of the things that at first I thought was kind of a hindrance was we focus on small batches. So I am not a company or a brand that is going to be able to easily produce a thousand pieces of an orange and pink pillow. Everything is one of a kind. But I’ve come to realize that small batch model is really to both our benefit as a brand in terms of like financial and creativity, but in offers each person that special idea of, wow, I might be the only person that has something like this. Because buying is so much an emotional experience. It’s what’s really beautiful about the products I have. And while we work on small batch production, it allows us to have control over things like the materials that we’re using. Maybe we make some minor adjustments for the next release and that we can really curate a collection that is both high end quality and as well detailed.

Karthika: I love it. And your pieces are stunning by the way. And they really speak to the speak to the culture that it’s coming from really well. I mean, you can love color and you can love style and it can look completely different from where it’s coming from. But I don’t sense that in your stuff. I mean the Moroccan influence and the Peru influences apparent in everything that you do. So I love them all. Now I feel like as a people, as a culture, especially as entrepreneurs, we sometimes don’t celebrate the successes that we’ve had. You’re so focused on, what’s the next order? What’s the next product, what’s the next task? So before we go any further, can you share some of your proudest accomplishments along your entrepreneurial journey so far?

Maggie: You know, I love this question because I feel like people sometimes are afraid to open up or kind of pat themselves on the back and look to see what they’ve accomplished even if it’s something minor. So honestly, being a part of this podcast is a real honor. And maybe it was apparent to you by email, but when I saw the invitation, I jumped at the chance because that was something that I can remember over Christmas break, literally like folding laundry up in my room, listening to podcasts because I love them thinking, Gosh, I would love to be on one. And ironically, like a week and a half later, the email from you came in and I was like, wow, this is it. This is my chance. So that invitation was something that I’m proud of. But also because I involve myself with artisans and in Peru and Morocco, I’ve kind of taken it a step further and I was able to connect with this organization called Prom Peru, which is an organization that focuses on like business and tourism to the country. And they want to encourage people to come and work with their artists and groups. And so this April my second year, that they have invited me to one of their conferences to connect, learn more, introduce either new weaving styles or new products that are out. So I think even looking back two and a half, three years ago, I might not have taken that risk to apply and put out there that I thought that I was worthy or valid or had the knowledge of being able to go. But last year I was like, you know what, I could do this, I’m going to apply. And I enjoyed the experience. I brought my husband and kids along because my husband’s from Peru, so we kind of made it a mix of family time and work time. And my husband came with me to the show. So it was a really great experience. And this year I’ll be going again and I’m very excited because now I feel like I can focus more. I’ve been able to do at one time around and my strategy you know, is a little bit different. So I’m excited for that. And then I think at first I didn’t realize it, but certainly it has come full circle. I started learning Spanish on a whim in high school because it was like one of three languages to choose from. And then I went and studied in Mexico. And again, I come from a family where they didn’t travel much, so my mother and father were wait, where are you going? You’re going to go to Mexico? Why can’t you just like go to Ireland like everyone else? I was like, no, I want to go to Mexico. I want to experience the country that we border. And since then learning the language and knowing the language has brought so many opportunities that I am grateful for and I’m proud of. I’m able to conduct all of my business in Peru, in Spanish. So we communicate 100% with everybody that I’m working with. And I just think that that helps me. It makes me relatable because here I am like an American girl. I’m of Irish descent and yet I can talk to them, explain things, and it just has become a really important factor in my business. And, I’m proud to say that I am fluent in Spanish, so there’s always stuff to learn. And some of the words maybe, I don’t necessarily know, but, last year when I went to Peru, they’re like, oh, do you need a translator? And I’m like, Nope, I can do all this myself. So that is incredible.

Karthika: Maggie, and firstly, thank you so much for your kind words. I mean, having you on this podcast has been absolutely phenomenal. But even your accomplishments of going to Peru and like you said, on a whim, right? I mean, you were like, I can do this, that confidence of I can do this. I got this.  I wish all of us had a little bit of that at some point. Like anything in life, we have our ups, and then we also have downs. So what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced so far and how do you overcome that?

Maggie: I think you’re right. I mean in every business or an every kind of atmosphere, there’s always going to be ups and downs. And I think if you can acknowledge maybe some of your mishaps and you can take away and learn from the next experience, that’s, I mean, that’s life, right? I do wish I could visit the artisans more and, and be in those countries of Peru and Morocco. You know, ideally it would be great to be there four or five times a year and be able to stay there for a month. But, I do have family responsibilities. I have a husband with two children and so that balance needs to be had. And I also have a full time job as a medical international event planner. So my time is limited, but I do feel like I use that time to the best of my ability. So for example, this year I’m going to Peru by myself, which I’m a little sad about because I would love for my children to go, but I kind of have to just go there. And do what I need to and focus on my next projects. I do also think that sometimes I’m not really classified as an artistic person. I don’t come from that artist’s background, so my mind doesn’t really think like an artist. And I feel like it can kind of create some conflicts sometimes because I am very much a business type person. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m quite opinionated and I have a very clear vision of what I like aesthetically from a design perspective. But I feel like I’m still in a learning phase sometimes when working through these things. Even with sketches and mood boards, it’s something that I have to learn and work through a little bit more. That doesn’t come as easy to somebody who maybe has an art type of background.

Karthika: No, I completely understand that. I have a technical background and I did not consider myself creative at all growing up the creative genes like with my mom and my sister. I couldn’t lift a paintbrush or a colored pencil for the life of me. Now as a photographer, I love that creative energy that I don’t know how, but I find it and we all get it. I think we all been in that situation. We somehow figured it out and we produce is good stuff. So it sounds like you are a solo-preneur it. So am I, but we all need sort of support both physically and mentally, as we go along our day. So how, and where do you find your support system?

Maggie: Sure. first and foremost, definitely my husband, he himself is a very much of a business numbers crunching, financial guy. So I feel like he helps me keep grounded and I might propose a situation or an idea that I have and he’ll really help me break it down. Sometimes I’m going in the wrong direction. He’s like, okay, Maggie, you really think that that’s the best decision and let’s walk through this step. So him and I have a lot of conversation and exchange about my business and he’s definitely somebody that helps me focus and to not lose focus. But then I also have my aunt who is extremely kind and generous with her time and she is just a great sounding board. I can call her up and propose an idea or say like, Hey, I found this boutique, I’m thinking of going there. And she’s like, okay, don’t worry. I’m going to look that up. I’m going to see if it would make sense for us to visit there. And in fact, I’m going to visit my cousin and I’ll stop by and check it out. So I really break it down to my family there to support me and to help me and guide me on many things. But also I would say that, I know it could sound silly, but the Instagram community, I know like sometimes it gets knocked and people talk about the algorithm and you know, things like that. But that has been a place that I have been able to connect with people that honestly I don’t think that I would ever in a million years have discovered. And I think most of my interactions has been genuine. I mean, I literally write to someone and say like, Hey, I see you’re an interior designer. I’ve gotten some requests to have my textiles used. What is industry standards? I’ll just flat out ask them and, and I’ve gotten great response and I’ve even met with some of them to have coffee or lunch and talk face to face. So I’m literally like the type of person that will just reach out to people, write them a note saying like, Hey, I know you don’t know me, but I like your energy. I feel that you’re authentic. And it’s been great so far and I think as long as your message is sincere and honest, that people really opened up and it, because I do the same, you know, I’ve had people write to me or contact me and I’m more than happy to share my experiences, both the good and the bad on several things.

Karthika: No, you’re absolutely right. It is, it’s a fantastic community and it’s a fantastic resource. And when we use it with the right intention, it just can work magic. And I have connected with so many people as well. And you’re right, it has to be sincere and it has to be from a place of I want to learn or I would love to know, can you help me? And not like a sense of entitlement or anything like that. Now how does the sort of business and entrepreneurial sort of landscape look for the industry as well as for the community? You had mentioned earlier on that there are a lot of entrepreneurial groups that you are a part of. So how does that sort of work for you? And also second part of the question is like, do you participate in any sort of government programs? Are non-for-profits sort of organizations that are set up to help entrepreneurs, particularly women entrepreneurs?

Maggie: I am part of the Chicago Fair Trade Organization for the past maybe two or three years. And that is a great network. It guess it tends to be mostly women. And we host a lot of events. We participate in a lot of popup events all during the month of November through Christmas, we have a pop up market and we get to exchange ideas and talk through things. So that part of that fair trade space has been great. And lucky for me that it’s here in Chicago and we have such an immense variety of brands that focus on different artisan groups. I mean out of Africa and Haiti and there’s several other ones from Peru. So we’ve kind of teamed up and then are you going to be headed to Peru? Would you mind packing one of my samples back in your suitcase and I can meet you for coffee. So that has been a great area for me to be a part of. And then I earlier mentioned that within my neighborhood we have over the past few year really developed a great entrepreneur, young entrepreneur kind of space. So a lot of the businesses and restaurants and boutiques and salons are all independently owned by the young entrepreneurs and a mix of male and female. So we really encourage each other and we host events. We’ll like close down the block of one of the businesses and we’ll invite all of the area to come out and see us because a lot of us don’t have storefronts. We either work out of our home or we have a space. So that’s been a really nice community to be a part of. And then, you know, I’m part of private Facebook groups that primarily focus on women. But you know, I only have so much time. I think that, you know, I’d have to pick and choose which groups make sense for me at this point in time in my career with the brand. And so those have been my two primary of choice. But that’s not to say it wouldn’t change, you know,  or expand as things move on.

Karthika: It sounds like you have a fantastic resource or group of resources, so that’s amazing. Let’s talk motivation, mindset. and growth for a minute. I mean unlike corporate where you know, somebody else’s in charge this all lies with you. We are the captain of our own ship. So how do you keep yourself motivated and sort of excited for the future, especially when you know things are tough and all you have to make tough decisions. How do you keep that motivation going?

Maggie: Sure.I do think Chicago is a great place to network and to likeminded business individuals and either through personal relationships where I’ve met somebody or through Instagram, like I said, where we, I searched like Chicago brands or someone puts me in contact with somebody. So I think it’s a great metropolitan city that’s not too overwhelming or too busy and people take the time to either meet with you or connect you to somebody else. So I love that I’m in Chicago. But I do feel that sometimes it would be nice to kind of have a more of a global reach and be able to travel to the east or to the west side of the United States to kind of see what’s happening in those areas because the demographic is different and style and purchasing techniques are also a little different. So it would be nice to get exposure and understand that area, but that comes with time.

Karthika: Absolutely. I mean, it’s a big, beautiful world out there with lots of different experiences. Let’s talk about it. It’s because you did mention family and you have kids. So as an entrepreneur, as somebody who still has a full time job plus family and kids and everything, how do you balance all these different sort of hats that you wear?

Maggie: Well, most of the time I feel like I’m not balancing if I need to be completely honest. Um, but the more that I talk to people and that I relate with others, both male and female, you know, maybe more so with the female, with families. But I think it’s like a struggle for all of us, right? Because we feel so cold and so many different directions, um, that sometimes you just need a break. So my main goal is at the end of each day, at the end of, you know, my work day, five o’clock, I really try and be present and there with my children.So we cook, we turn on the music, we build forts. My kids love baking. It makes a mess in the kitchen, but it’s all part of the fun. We love being outside, so in the summer we’re picking tomatoes or, um, I just think being present in wherever you are, whether it be in business or at your job or you know, on site somewhere at an event that that’s when you’re really going to thrive and be successful. So you know, once the kids go to bed, is that my, to take advantage and make website updates or kind of go through and clean up my finances around the business, of course. So I think it’s balanced to the best of my ability. And some weeks are different than others. Some weeks I might have had such a difficult mentally exhausting week with work that I take a break and I focus more on my kids and we go out to dinner, we go to an event.
So I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason. I think it’s mostly just focus on what you’re doing. Do that right, do that the best of your ability. And then when it comes time to be a mom or a parent, do that to the best of your ability. And it’s worked so far. You know, there’s always room for improvement.

Karthika: Very well said. I think being present in whatever you’re doing is so important because otherwise you’re all over the place and you’re not doing justice to anything. I know it’s easier said than done, but I think it’s something that we can all sort of strive to it.

Maggie: Yes, For example your kid needs a hundred paper clips because it’s the 100 days school or he gets sent home with a bear. So now we got to go ice skating with the bear and let’s go bring them, you know, to the toy store. So I do try and carve out time for myself and I guess we could call it pampering, but you know, even if it’s to go get a massage or a facial or you know, something that’s for myself because I kind of feel like it resets. It’s like you’re able to have that hour of time by yourself, collect your thoughts, relax, and then you feel refreshed and energized and like ready to tackle the next grand activity.

Karthika: Absolutely. Obviously I didn’t get it. Like I said, it gives you a chance to reset and also kind of be creative in your thoughts and your projects are in whatever you want to kind of get done.Let’s talk specifics and just because I feel like sometimes when we hear other business owners and we hear other entrepreneurs talk, knowing details always helps because it helps kind of let us know where we are or kind of, you know, set the stage. Right. So if you don’t mind, I’ll ask you a few questions and please feel free to share whatever you feel children yet. How long have you been in business and how long have you been profitable?

Maggie: So I started the company back in 2016. But I will say that it was kind of all over the place. I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to take. I was just getting my feet wet. I’m learning a lot meeting with a lot of people. And so I really think from 2016 to 2018 was pure learning. Being exposed to different things that I had never really learned or, or had the opportunity to learn throughout, like my past working and, and university career. So I think in 2018 is when I really decided the direction. I wanted to take what I wanted my brand to represent who I wanted to target and what my goals were. And so 2018 was a really great time to put that. And that’s why I’ve kind of created this step by step goal for 2019 because I think, you know, that year from all 2018 has allowed for me to set these goals that I, that I find are realistic and just help me move, move ahead. So I’m not entirely profitable. I mean, any money that I have made, I’ve actually just reinvested a hundred percent back into the company. So I took $5,000 and invested it in terms of product photography, website, and used some people to help me work on some SEO. I’m a big part of my brand and my company mission is to give back obviously. So not only do we pay fair wages to everybody that and is involved in producing our products, but we also sponsor a child, through a corporation called Copra Deli. So it actually had originated here out of Chicago, which is why I feel so connected with it. And I had done some volunteer work with them while their office was here. So each year throughout the year we make donations and we sponsor a child for his education. And then as things come up throughout the year and, and I feel a personal connection with it. I will take any of the profits that we have after, you know, paying bills and getting prototypes and product ready and I’ll reinvest it just because I, I feel a personal connection. So, you know, there was something in our neighborhood where it was called like share a bear. And so it was a kind of program that was helping races, which was the, is the organization that’s helping a lot with the family, the families that are being like separated at the border, um, which we had heard a lot of. And also I just felt a very personal connection to that living in Mexico and seeing how it is. And so not only did we take a portion of all of our profits from October through December, but then I went ahead and donated a bunch of teddy bears to send down to Texas.

Maggie: So I think, you know, because I am small and I’m the only one here and I don’t have any large overhead fees of needing a studio space. I have a studio in my basement. I’m able to take my profits and reinvest them in to the company in whichever way I feel necessary. You know, eventually my hope, of course it leads to become profitable, but I always feel like that’s going to be something that is of importance to me because I’m not really doing it solely for the money. As I said before, it’s such an emotional connection and the brand means so much more than just making money and you know, buying something luxurious that I feel like that that’s always going to be something that, that I feel I’m passionate and proud of.

Karthika: Somebody else had said this. And I thought it was so appropriate for profitable doesn’t always mean like financially profitable. I think when you have emotional profitability too, in terms of business, you’ve achieved something and it sounds like you’re on the right path there. Now, where do you as in Maggie, where do you invest a lot of your time? Is it in marketing? Is it in sales? Is it in production ideation or maybe all of the above?

Maggie: So my primary role is definitely the production. I just don’t feel like I’m at a point to have anybody else helped me kind of formulate any of the ideas, you know, a lot of them come from my head and I just write them down on paper. So I am the primary person for production and then marketing and sales. I feel very attached to it. I need my brand and both myself and what I do to be interchangeable. So I feel like from now I have to be the face. If I ever do a market or a sales call, I really need for it to be me. I’m the one sending out any of the email blasts because I just don’t think I’m ready to give that up. I do find help for the financials because I don’t like numbers. Luckily enough both my husband and my aunt who I mentioned love that stuff. So that is something I’m more than happy to offer up to them. And then I’ve had a few other people who have helped me with some very specific projects you know, as needed basis and I just kind of pay as they go and work with them on projects as needed.

Karthika: So right. You need to get the help that you need at the time you need it, cause you can’t be the master of all. Let’s talk social media, because you mentioned it before. We talked about Instagram, so how important, particularly in the fashion space and ethical fashion space, how important is social media for you? Or do you rely a lot more on the traditional forms of marketing, like ads and word of mouth, the pop up shops you mentioned?

Maggie: Sp I heard from somebody that you have all these social media platforms from Twitter to Facebook to snapchat and you have to pick a platform and kind of run with it. And I feel that Instagram is a space that I could do that with. Like I said, my brand is very colorful. It touches on travel and exploring and discovering and culture. And so I’m able to blend a lot of that into my story on Instagram. And so I do focus energy there because it has awarded me opportunities that might not necessarily come up, especially on an international scope. But I would say that good old, like down to earth, face to face connecting and talking to boutiques is also very important. So I do love popups because it allows me the opportunity or any sort of wholesale show, to really talk about my brand and I get really excited and I probably start getting loud and I think people can see that through my expression, my facial expressions and things like that.
So I do think that face to face is important and I’m a people person, so I love connecting with people and talking to them and being out of at an event and hearing someone’s story and following up with them. I really enjoyed that conversation. I don’t frown upon social media, but I do think that face to face human contact is always going to be the winner.

Karthika: Absolutely. I think you need to have a good mix of that, especially when you are the face of your brand. And you know, a lot of times it is people are buying because they buying from you because of you, not necessarily the products. So I think it’s important to have that balance. All right, lets start to wrap this up a little bit. I just have a couple of more questions if that’s okay. What has it been the most important part of your journey so far? What has been your ‘ah ha’ moment?

Maggie: So I would say that focusing on yourself, but not in a selfish way. Try not to compare to others too much, which I know is sometimes difficult, but you don’t know what their situation is. You don’t know what they came and started with. So I really just try and wrap myself around my brand, my mission, what I want to portray, what I want to communicate to my customers and what I want to give back and share with the world.So that’s definitely one thing. It’s kind of funny because my husband just recently started his own company, and he was, you know, working on the idea of like a logo and the color and the font and things like that. And I was like, Well, no, you should do this and you need to do this. And when you’re writing to the graphic designer, you have to lay it out like this. And he’s like, wow, how do you know all this? And I was like, well, Gosh, what do you think I’m doing all day. I am knee deep in that type of stuff. So I think it was funny, but also rewarding where my husband was like, wow, like you’re right and this is how I sent it to the designer and you were spot on.

Karthika: That’s funny. Now if you could go back in time to when you first started in 2016 knowing what you know now of all your experiences, would you do this all over again or would you change anything? And if so, what would it be?

Maggie: So would I do it over again? Of course. I still feel like I’m in the beginning stages of something great and I’m really excited and eager to see where this goes. I think that I wish I would have had a little bit more confidence and security around what I was getting myself into at the stages of 2016 and even 2017 I was like maybe because I’m not a designer or someone’s not gonna take me seriously. Or maybe because I don’t have this fashionable studio with natural light and a great space that maybe I don’t feel legitimate. But I think what it boils down to is the passion and just kind of like pushing through all that. So I wish the kind of confidence go getter attitude that I have now would have started at the very beginning. Because I think that that I could have worked through things and, and maybe been in a little bit different of a position, but, you know, I don’t have any regrets. I don’t have any regrets on anything that I’ve done. And you know, goals change with confidence. So maybe that was something that was part of the plan, That would happen to, to help me be where I am right now.

Karthika: Right. There’s a saying and I’m probably going to butcher it, but you are exactly where you are meant to be at this point in time. So everything happens for a reason and everything is meant to be exactly how good. Now what lies ahead for you, Maggie? Are you fully living your dream or what comes next? Can you share maybe with those?

Maggie: So one thing that I want to focus on for 2019 and into 2020 is I do want to add more to my collection. So between Peru and Morocco, I would love to expand the kind of home interior space. So I have a few ideas that I’m working on right now. I would like to add a few more products and kind of change some things up a little bit. I wouldn’t say that I living the dream? I would say for my standards I’m very blessed and I honestly, I thank God every day for where I am, both in my life personally and professionally. So the fact that I have the support from my family is something that I just can’t even really put into words. And I’m very thankful to have my kids and my husband here with me while we go on this journey. My kids are very much a part of my brand. I mean, you won’t be surprised if I’m adding an event or something like that and they’re like tagging along. Or if I’m going to visit a store, I might have my aunt or my mom or my husband with me and I’m like, okay, you go into the other store while I go into the store and then we could go for milkshakes afterwards. So I do have a few things up my sleeve showing up in the next few months. But I think there’s room to grow and areas that I could focus on. I mean, longterm I would love to add maybe one or two other countries to my portfolio of working with. I mean, Mexico was one on the top of my list, but I don’t want to spread myself too thin and I’d really love to focus on the quality, design and master the two countries that I’m working with now. So in time I think that could happen. But I just want to narrow down what I’m working with now and make it the best that it could be.

Karthika: Well, Maggie, I’m sure it’s going to be fantastic. Like I said, I love your stuff. I love the heart and the soul behind everything that you do. Thank you so very much for coming on and sharing your story with us.

Maggie: Thank you. I honestly am so excited that this happened and you made me a complete one of my 2019 goals so early on so thank you for that.

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