Parents in business: Mara of Mara Girone Simple Sophistication

I am Mara, originally from Italy. I am a passionate traveler 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.

I met my now-husband, Mark, in London and we moved to Mexico in 2006. It was in Mexico that we were married and in 2009 we had our first child, Maya. At the time I founded and directed my own publishing house.

Mark’s job then took our family to Portugal, I was able to settle in Portugal, learn the language, and plan for our next child while I took courses in drawing, painting, millinery, sewing. Michael was born in 2014, shortly after moving to Greece. We have since moved back to London and are raising our family here until they are at University. Then we will see which other adventure is awaiting us.

It was in 2017 when we returned to London that I was able to combine my artistic skills of painting, sewing and hand-embroidery to launch Mara Girone Simple Sophistication in 2018. I took a leap of faith, and with a full heart  I began this adventure of creating empowering hand-embroidery. I chose clothes, as it is something everyone has need of, and they can inspire both the wearer and the watcher. My motto is: Wear it. Touch it. Feel it. The tactile experience of the hand embroidery makes the experience of carrying your affirmations even more real and almost activates a sort of magic.

My business is a fashion label of ‘powerful words you can wear’. I embellish clothes with hand embroidery for women who are guided by passion and curiosity for our rich and colourful world, facing every day with independent spirit and style. I have created a range of ready-to-wear products including 100% recycled t-shirts and organic cotton hoodies with powerful words and messages embroidered on and 100% silk scarves manufactured in Italy.

I strongly believe in the power of words beyond their value as a group of letters and sounds. Words have intention, intensity and cultural significance. These values can give us power when we carry them on our clothes as a reminder of our worthiness.

To break free from our limiting beliefs and feel uncaged and bold, we need to work on our mindset and the words, repeated, worn and meaningfully accepted, can make wonders in that direction.

With my podcast I follow the same ‘why’ that supports my fashion brand. My guests empower other women through the energy of storytelling, sharing with us their ups and downs, their breakthrough and learnings.

In 2020, I launched my video show and podcast, ‘Empowering Voices’, where I share journeys of other incredible female entrepreneurs who tell us about their breakthroughs and learnings to be a hope and encouragement for other women around the world.

When I lived in Mexico, I founded and ran a successful magazine publishing house, where I did a great deal of the writing and editing. However, once we moved to Portugal and I was raising Maya, the time difference, distance and lack of family close by to support me became an insurmountable challenge, and I wound up the company.

With both of my children, I experienced a real loss of identity, which I only resolved by returning to my creative roots. Each time I was in a new country with nothing familiar around me, didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language, I lost myself in the roles of Mum and wife.

By taking that time for myself and my love of art, I was reinvigorated. I tried techniques I hadn’t done since I was a child, such as hand-embroidery, and learned totally new ones such as millinery. Reconnecting with my creative side each time made me realise that to maintain balance and contentment, I needed art in my daily life and in my job, and so I began planning a business.

My favourite thing about running my business is meeting new people and seeing how they change in themselves by wearing what I have created.  Therefore it is the ability I have to empower others. With my garments and my podcast I want to support women through the power of words to second a positive mindset. I wish my pieces to be reminders of our worthiness in our daily life and every day challenges.

I had a customer once telling me that she felt my creations were for her like an armour, a magic cape to face adversities. I call my clothing ‘wearable art’ and ‘fashion with a meaning’, and each piece denotes edgy femininity and elegance coupled with energy and joy.

I am very grateful for the freedom I have to express myself through my pieces. I love to follow my creative process where the idea comes and knocks at the door of my heart. I have a very clear view of the idea ‘knocking’ and asking to be brought to life, at which point I can mould and give the idea shape. On a daily basis, I have to give myself permission to create, to allow the ideas to flow. Not all of the initial ideas are developed into a wearable, sellable garment, the design process will see several ideas rejected before they get to that stage. 

Finally, the execution of the hand embroidery in itself is for me a form of meditation so much needed in the fast paced kind of life we live nowadays.Over time all the challenges I had to face were opportunities in disguise, although they felt very hard to navigate while in the middle of them, My ‘loss of identity’ after my pregnancies was the right input to go back to my artistic roots and to connect with my passions and that led to what is my business today.

When I started my most recent business, maybe for being a solopreneur, I did a lot of work on myself and my mindset.  It is almost like the path to entrepreneurship is a self discovery. I had to dismantle some limiting beliefs while embracing some uniqueness that supported my growth. So again, the process wasn’t easy and it is certainly a work in progress, but allowed me to grow personally and professionally.

I have a vision and a dream to constantly boost my motivation, but of course I have more concrete quarterly and yearly goals that are a bit the guideline for my business strategy. If I think back only a couple of years I can hardly recognize my initial business and the woman who started it. I have grown enormously and I have achieved many of what were only dreams. I remember, when working with a coach and ‘dreaming wild’, some of my targets seemed impossible and now they are reality. My social media presence, my video show and podcast, my sales are all  growing organically. From once wearing all the possible hats you have in a business, now I am lucky to delegate work to team members so I can focus on my art and creation. I have come far on my journey but I have further to go in order to be where I wish to be, learn what I want to learn and inspire as well as be inspired.

I don’t think one can ever say ‘I’ve made it’ and then stop. Our professional journey is made of steps to reach our vision and once we grab it, already a new one, bigger and more ambitious vision takes life. But this is the beauty of life, to feel alive, challenged and ready to start new adventures to see the magic happen

I would like to grow  and scale up so that my pieces are stocked in boutiques, concept stores and department stores around the world. At the same time I would be collaborating with charities whose work is relevant for women who will be also working on my pieces. I will have some sponsors for my podcast to be able to spread the world with amazing and empowering stories. After giving stability to what I have I would like to start new projects: a book is in the making and another is brewing in my head; art exhibitions are taken into consideration. I will finally start the History PhD I gave up several years ago to follow my husband in our expat life. And well, this is only for the next 5 years, but new ideas for later in life are there, waiting for their turn to reclaim their place..

Website: https://www.maragirone.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaraGironeSS

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maragirone

Podcast: https://www.maragirone.com/podcast

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