How I Founded An Award-Winning Business With $500 Christmas Cash

photo:mary kang

 

Maria Orozova started The MOD Studio at 25. She’s the President and Creative Director of marketing house The MOD Studio and has earned 16 ADDY awards, 39 American Graphic Design Awards and was one of Graphic Design USA Magazine’s “People To Watch”. Pretty impressive right?

If that wasn’t enough she regularly writes for Entrepreneur Magazine, is on the Board of Directors for the Center for Child Protection and Girls Empowerment Network and supports a variety of nonprofit organizations. Inspiring! We had a chat with her about how she started the studio with just her Christmas cash and what she’s learned along the way.

I’ve always fostered an entrepreneurial spirit.

When I entered the professional world, my dream was to create a space for innovative ideas that would meld my love of creative with marketing. After I developed relationships with clients through freelance projects, the stars aligned, when I was only 25 (gulp!), and my own company became a reality. I founded MOD with just $500 (Christmas cash) and the rest is history.

There have been so many highlights, but becoming the chosen agency for luxury brands in the real estate and hospitality sectors has been a thrill. When local and national brands like Four Seasons Residences, Exclusive Resorts, Lexus, Circuit of the Americas, Dell, and Woodhouse Day Spas Corporate come calling, it’s very rewarding.

I’m a morning person.

I love an early start to my day, sipping coffee, responding to emails and even getting in a workout. I find that this time to myself allows me to jump-start my day. When I arrive at the office, my mind is awake and I’m ready for anything, which is vital for agency life!

When in Austin, my calendar is packed with meetings and I tend to work through lunch, which gives me plenty of time to enjoy the rest of my day. I spend the afternoons swimming with my Lab/Weimaraner mix Zulu, relaxing with friends and family, and trying out new recipes. Typically, I check my email one more time before cuddling up with a good book and heading to bed.

I love the whole marketing process from start to finish.

Working hard and taking risks is at my core, which lends itself to the process. The best part about working hard is celebrating successes with amazing trips filled with boating, swimming, good wine, and culinary experiences.

 

A quote that truly resonates with me is one by Louis Pasteur, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.”

My advice is to be ready. I believe that opportunities are given to everyone – whether you are ready or not will determine success. Passion is important; however, it’s not the only factor. Find the market opportunities that align with your unique skills. That is where the magic happens! Don’t quit too easily, but also be honest with yourself when it might be time to pivot your business in an alternate direction.

Networking shouldn’t be so hard…

People connect with real conversations, not sales pitches. We want to do business with people that we know and like. My best tip is to be approachable and start conversations discussing hobbies and interests, and let work naturally come into the exchange. The goal is to establish, build, and maintain strong relationships.

The best advice I’ve ever received is to focus.

Focus on looking forward. Focus on what CAN work rather than what can’t. Focus on your ideas and trust them. To dwell on the past will only hold you back, depleting the chance for growth. Some people let the worry of what could go wrong interfere with what could go right. These thoughts make it hard to focus on the positive. While I’m well aware that sometimes things will go wrong, I choose to focus on the good.

Personally, I tend to regret the things that I don’t do, not the things that I’ve done.

This mentality keeps me moving forward and maintains my desire to live life to the fullest. Take on that client. Go to the concert. Travel to a new country. Embrace the opportunities presented to you and be fearless as you explore new ones. I strive to do good and to continually learn and grow (both professionally and as an individual).

 

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