If you know me, you know that I have a deep love for the island of Maui. So when Mariah contacted me about her website redesign, I was absolutely over the moon!! Mariah is one of the most powerfully uplifting women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. (And she has pink hair… bonus points!) It’s always such a joy to see one of her Facebook posts come across my newsfeed. I only wish we had connected before my honeymoon, it would have been wonderful to meet her in person! (Mariah, mark your calendar for 2022, I’m coming back!)
Mariah chose the My Indian Summer template from the Showit store for her redesign. Everything about this template fit the look and feel of what she was going for with her new brand. We kept the soft coral and cream colors and added in a nice grey text color and some pops of teal. We also completely redesigned the blog page and gave it a fun, informative sidebar. (Isn’t the header image ah-ma–zing?!)
Tell us a bit about you! How did you find yourself in Maui?
My family moved to Maui when I was very small. I grew up in a beach shack 50 yards from the ocean right next to Mama’s Fish House. By shack, I truly mean a shack. The house is now a laundry room for the restaurant.
Why did you choose to pursue a career as a full time photographer?
I started working in the corporate world at the age of 17 – yep that’s right! I started working full time at a 5 diamond Maui resort pulling in 40 hour work weeks and a full time school schedule. By the age of 21, I was really burnt out. To say that I was a supervisor in a five diamond resort by that young age was quite an accomplishment, but it really killed my spirit. It did, however, give me a solid base on how to run a business. After being so structured, I wanted something that would give me freedom to express myself. I had always told my parents that I’d wanted to be an artist, and photography became my medium after I photographed a coworkers maternity session (on film back then!) and then the requests started to interfere with my job. So my husband told me to quit my job – and I did!
What’s the smartest thing you’ve ever done for your business?
Let go of the things I am not good at. It is HARD to let go of control sometimes, but I am an artist and not a bookkeeper. So hiring a bookkeeper has mentally freed me! Also hiring Crystal to help me with my website was also a very freeing moment!
Your Facebook page is one of the most uplifting and positive things I’ve seen. What is it that inspires YOU?
I have been through so much – physically and mentally – and I want my page to be a place where someone can come, even if they’re not interested in hiring me as a photographer, to be lifted up. Our world can be harsh, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. I write for others because I’m also writing to myself and to my children. I’m inspired by many uplifting women and hope that I’m inspiring to others!
You do something pretty amazing with each package that’s purchased, can you tell us a bit more about that and what inspired this choice?
Growing up, my family was very poor. Happy, but poor! School shopping consisted of buying clothes at the Salvation Army and I didn’t have a new pair of shoes for a long time. I remember I was in a hula performance at the shopping center when I was 10 years old. We were supposed to wear white pants and a straw hat. I didn’t have those things so my mom borrowed a pair of blue jeans and found a fuschia hat. I was the only kid on stage that wasn’t wearing what I was supposed to. I don’t want kids to feel like that. Maui is an expensive place to live. People come to Maui and see the resorts and the beauty, but they might not see that kids need shoes, that people are struggling with medical expenses, or that our homeless population is growing. I make donations to charities on Maui to help with these situations because I want every person that comes to Maui to leave it in a better state. To leave more than footprints in the sand as I like to say. Some of my favorite organizations are Feed My Sheep Maui and Maui Humane Society but I also donate to private medical funds for island residents, buy flip-flops for elementary schools to have on hand when kids’ flip flops break, and also provide donated photography to the terminally ill. I want to show my kids that it’s important to give back to the community that raises them.
>> Learn more at mariahmilan.com/giving-back <<
Are there any books (or blogs) that have inspired or helped you in your career?
I really enjoy Jasmine Star and Jenna Kutcher a lot. I read their blogs frequently and have also enjoyed You are A Badass by Jen Sincero.
How did you decide on your branding?
I have been through so many logos over the years and gone through lots of different phases throughout the 18 years I’ve been doing this! I hired a branding firm to really narrow down what I wanted and the logo is really, really what I was after. I have three kids, so I wanted it to have three elements. I am also a firm believer that Maui is a healing place and the sea, land, and sun are magic. That’s how the logo came about! It’s all of my favorite things – the elements of Maui and my three babies.
Tell us what you love about Showit compared to other platforms you’ve used.
At first it was scary and overwhelming. Now it’s just plain amazing and I can’t believe I didn’t jump on the Showit bandwagon earlier. It’s so easy to hop on and make a change.
Showit has so many incredible designs available in their store, what made you choose the My Indian Summer template?
Oh my gosh it was a STRUGGLE! There are so many great designs. This one spoke to me because it feels like it fits right in for portraits – happy, lovely, sun filled goodness.
Your fabulous new website has been online for a few months now, how has it affected your business?
It was the best feeling when it was published and literally five minutes later an inquiry form came in. Feedback from clients has been fantastic!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is such a great question! I am working on letting go of more control – I know that sounds CRAZY. I actually want to grow. I want to be able to give more photographers a place to shoot where they don’t have to worry about the business and editing. I can see myself having a staff of photographers who share my vision.
Any final words?
You are going to make mistakes, you’re going to have sucky shoots, you’re going to doubt yourself. Just know that. But also know that you are going to learn from every mistake, you’re going to have amazing shoots with clients that become amazing friends, and you’re going to build up a confidence that you never thought possible. You are going to find your voice and your vision. Xoxo.
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