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Exploring Life & Business with Maria Alcoke of MariaVida Creative

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Alcoke. 

Hi Maria, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Since 2005, I have been working with small to mid-size and local businesses to tell their stories creatively through logo design, brand identity, website development, packaging, labels and custom graphics. I also provide peace of mind through monthly website maintenance and support, allowing business owners to focus on their growth, rather than stressing over keeping their website secure and up to date. 

My background is in graphic design and interactive media. I studied photography as an undergrad and received my Masters of Art from MICA where I continued to refine my design and media skills. I started as a freelance designer right out of college and picked up projects here and there for local clients and friends. I moved to San Diego in 2007 where I worked as a web and graphic designer in the action sports industry for several years before transitioning into a teaching role at a charter high school. I had continued to freelance over the years and really enjoyed the variety of freelance/contract work I had which included various professional industries, non-profits, and small and start-up businesses. After I left teaching, my husband and I launched our own real estate investing group where we purchased rental properties and bought and flipped homes with a team of contractors. This was fun work, but very out of my comfort zone, and after getting pregnant in 2014, we moved back to the east coast to start our family. I ended up leaving the company my husband and I started to focus on freelancing and raising our first baby and 6 years later, I have a full-time freelance business that serves small to medium-sized businesses across the country. I feel very fortunate to have developed the relationships I have with my clients and am grateful to have a 100% referral-based business. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
It certainly has not been a smooth road. Along the way, we (my husband and I) struggled financially with both of us being entrepreneurs. At one point, I was coaching at a gym, launching a fitness program for new Moms, running a podcast, and serving my design and website clients while managing our growing family. I was taking on too much and I wasn’t willing to ‘give up’ on any of my projects. A big struggle was lack of clarity on my business and lack of support. I was spreading myself thin and trying to do it all. After the birth of our second daughter, I made the decision to set some projects aside. With a narrower focus, I was able to really dial in my skills and expand my services through my design business. 2020 was an absolutely pivotal year for my business and the year I went ‘all-in’ on graphic design, web design, and website maintenance and support. Thanks to a women’s Mastermind group I belonged to at the time, I was encouraged to take a look at the big picture of my business and figure out how to improve productivity and workflow, create systems to streamline the more time-consuming processes, and really get to understand what my clients’ needs were. All of that to say that none of my success would have been possible without additional support. 

As you know, we’re big fans of MariaVida Creative. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
MariaVida Creative is a boutique design and creative solutions firm based in Ellicott City, MD. My mission is to build community and connection through the power of visual communication. When working with MariaVida Creative, clients receive a completely personalized experience built with their brand in mind. I take great pride in helping my clients meet their business goals, whether it’s improved visibility online or adjust their messaging to attract a more specific audience. I work with my clients every step of the way – from the initial ‘Exploratory Session’, to the design process; from the launch to continued creative consulting and support. I work in a true partnership with my clients, providing the best service possible while working towards the common goal of making their brand a success. 

To me, relationships are everything and I am most proud of the personalized experience my clients get when they work with me. Working with a boutique design firm like MariaVida Creative gives clients the opportunity to develop a long-term plan for their branding and marketing efforts. The majority of my clients provide me with repeat business which gives me the ability to experience their growth and cater to their specific needs as their business evolves. 

I offer a variety of creative solutions including logos and brand identity, brand strategy and messaging, website design, and website rebuilds which are fully device-responsive and optimized for speed and performance. I also provide other graphic design services including marketing collateral design, book cover design, invitations, and other print design. And, as of 2019, MariaVida Creative offers monthly website maintenance and support. Monthly Website Support and Maintenance Packages include a range of monthly services based on client needs – from updating blog posts and content, to running monthly updates and taking support calls for troubleshooting server issues; these packages are subscription-based for clients who want peace of mind when it comes to keeping their website up to date and secure. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I have sought out several different Mastermind groups over the years. One group that is no longer together, but provided a tremendous amount of support for small business owners was the FemWorking mastermind group. There are several Facebook groups that cater specifically to female entrepreneurs as well. I also belongs to an online Slack community called The Resourceful Designer community for several months. I love connecting with other creatives. Covid-times have made it harder to network in-person, but I have turned to social media, specifically Instagram to connect with other like-minded business professionals. My advice would be to reach out – send a DM or an email, or schedule a consultation with someone who is doing work that you admire. Check out podcasts that relate to your work and see what offerings the podcast hosts offer, typically a podcast host will have some kind of offering for their listeners that are designed for professional growth. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Joe Tito Photography
Cornerhouse Realty

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