Today I caught up with the wonderful Mara, artist, lover of travelling and founder of Mara Girone Simple Sophistication. Mara is passionate about empowering women and her fashion brand is focused on encouraging you to be unapologetically you. During this interview, Mara talks about the starting a business from her passion for hand-embroidery, the adventure of becoming a productpreneur and diversifying to start a new podcast…
Tell me about yourself? Your story / journey / Family/life/love/hates
I am Mara, originally from Italy. I am a passionate traveller and a dreamer, advocate for feminism, and an artist, specialising in hand-embroidery, I am a podcast host and a writer. I have lived and worked across the globe from Italy to Mexico, Portugal to Greece and London and have been inspired by my experiences around the world and by the people I met and their stories.
As a child I wanted to be a writer and found my own publishing house. In fact, prior to opening Mara Girone Simple Sophistication I founded and successfully directed my own publishing house. That means that the little spark of entrepreneurial life has always been with me.
What’s your product business and what inspired you to start the business?
At the age of 8, I fell in love with hand-embroidery and regularly returned to this art form throughout my life. I could get lost in it for hours and although at the time I didn’t know, I had discovered a powerful and effective form of meditation. Creating with hands has always been very fascinating. It holds some magic as it has the power to transform raw materials into beauty.
I was living in Athens when I turned to hand-embroidery again to ease a bit the transition to the new country, far from my family, with two very young kids and a husband working crazy hours. It was like I rediscovered a world of magic and wonders: the making, the touching and feeling. So when I moved to London in 2017, I took a leap of faith, and I decided to transform what I so much loved, into a business.
I was inspired by the many versions of me from past and present time: by that girl who felt trapped in a small reality and felt the need to open her wings and fly; by the mother who in the process of giving to her family lost her identity and felt the need to find it again; by the woman who not always could count with the right mindset for success, but had to work on herself to extract the magic within. These versions of myself and more examples from many other women in need of the right support, of the right reminder of their value are the inspiration behind my creations.
Congratulations on the return of your podcast “Empowering Voices”, how does your podcast compliment your product business?
At some point in my career I felt the necessity to support women in ways other that fashion. I felt that I had the great opportunity to give voice to the amazing stories each of us has and make storytelling a tool to inspire and empower other women out there. We live in a time where finally we see women showing their amazing talents, where the feeling of community and networking is finally exploding in its more amazing way. I wanted to support all this and add my voice and that of my guests to the powerful magic of women.
Where do you currently sell, what are your distribution channels?
My main channel is still my website. I had the great opportunity to be present in John Lewis just after all the shops went back to ‘normal’ here in England. Sadly another scheduled event with them has been cancelled. I am negotiating now the expansion in the wholesale market with the support of international agencies representing my bran globally.
What products do your customers love from you?
I have two bestsellers in my t-shirts range with the hand embroidered words ‘Unapologetically Me’ and ‘Unstoppable Resilience’. They are the symbol of a conscious choice to be bold, to be worth, to be enough and proudly show it.
What has been difficult about the journey so far?
I started my business without consciously knowing that I was doing so. I went back to hand embroidery as a powerful form of meditation to find my identity again after my second pregnancy. My passion evolved in what is now my business without having a written business plan or a strong launch strategy so while already out there and moving my steps in totally new fields I had to work backwards to fill in the gaps. But it has been a great adventure so far that ignited in me the spark of the entrepreneurial life I always had in me from my childhood. Very excited to see what will happen next.
What has surprised you in your journey?
I always believed in synchronicity, but the way it works in business is stunning. The pace is so fast, you sometimes have a vision and reality goes far and beyond to surprise you.
Also I met along the way the most amazing human being I could have ever wished for. I met people who are now friends for life, some of my stronger supporters and definitely great collaboration opportunities in my journey.
Where do you see your business in a year from now?
I can envision my brand sold in retailers around Europe. I will be then ready to explore new markets and new projects I have been working on the side and that now are reclaiming my attention to come to life.
Is this your dream job?
When I was around 8 and they asked me what I wanted to be as a grown up, I never had the name of one job, but a series of jobs I then combined together along my life: writer, artist, traveller, emotional supporter. So far, all my dreams came true, so I am ready to fulfill the new ones I started dreaming of more recently.
What makes you happy?
Reading, visiting museums, going to theatre, any kind of artistic expression to admire or try are things that make my life very happy together with being a mother to the most amazing two little humans I know and wife to a great supporter of my business and partner of great adventures, my husband.
Find out more about Mara’s empowering range and shop clothes that help you to be unapologetically you here: