Inspirational Woman: Mara Girone | Founder, Mara Girone Simple Sophistication

Mara Girone wearing Simple Sophistication 'Live Your Dreams' hoodie

Mara Girone is a Creator, Mum, Italian now living in London, Podcast Host and Founder of Mara Girone Simple Sophistication.

Established in 2018, Mara Girone Simple Sophistication is an “adventure of empowering hand-embroidery” – a collection of bespoke and ready to wear scarves, hoodies and hand-painted t-shirts embellished with hand-embroidered flowers, patterns and motivational words, designed to empower women and help them to face the world with strength, confidence and authenticity.

Mara chose women’s clothing as it is a necessity, but can be made beautiful and powerful with the addition of her embroidery. For Mara, the act of embroidering is a meditation and an energy exchange, flowing from her into the garments.

She calls her clothing ‘wearable art’, and each piece denotes edgy femininity and elegance coupled with energy and joy. The designs are derived from original drawings inspired by Mara’s various passions; nature, literature, museums, and theatre, impacted by the vibrancy of London.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am Mara Girone, 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.

Prior to opening Mara Girone Simple Sophistication I founded and successfully directed my own publishing house in Mexico. I have definitely always had that little spark of entrepreneurial life.

My business is Mara Girone Simple Sophistication, a fashion label of ‘powerful words you can wear’ and ‘Empowering Voices’, a video show and podcast where I interview inspiring and talented women entrepreneurs.

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 hand embroidered on and 100% silk scarves manufactured in Italy.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I wouldn’t say I sat down to plan my career, I would say I rediscovered a passion and realized that my passion should be my career.

At the age of 8, I fell in love with hand-embroidery and regularly returned to this artform 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 version 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.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I had to work on myself and my mindset a lot. I was at a stage in my life where I realized that the strong power of limiting beliefs on our mindset can affect the way we live and feel. Deciding to work for myself, to work because I wanted to, to work even if I had two young kids and I could have had the ‘luxury’ no to was difficult at the beginning because of all cultural and social background telling me often a different story.

Once the choice was made and I started diving deep into my passion, my ‘why’ has always been the stronger motivator to keep me going.

Of course practical challenges can be on the path of an entrepreneur, but they will appear in every stage of your growth no matter what. Smooth success doesn’t exist, but that is the beauty of the entrepreneurial journey: an adventure to enjoy from each possible angle.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Other than living my dream life with my wonderful family in London, my business is my biggest achievement: Mara Girone Simple Sophistication. I started from my own dining table but now I am very lucky to have my own, cosy and full of light studio where also my video show and podcast was born to reach and inspire even more women in my mission to offer support, inspiration and empowerment through beautiful clothes, motivational words and the power of storytelling.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

I believe that my resilience and determination have been very important characteristics.  I have learned the strength to never give up, the attitude to face life with a smile, the capacity to dream wild, and to not be afraid of giving it my all.  I have learnt that to have a dream is not enough, you have to work to make it your reality.

I learned to always ask myself: what would the best scenario be and what the worst? With this awareness every choice becomes easier because I can see clearly that very often taking action can offer much more than the worry we have big in our heads.

You’ve created a sustainable fashion collection – how important is it that we move away from fast fashion towards sustainability?  

Nowadays we have so much information we cannot hide behind the excuse of ignorance. We know very well the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment. Big changes are in the making but we need to change our behaviour as consumers as well as producers of fashion.

I am an advocate of slow fashion and uniqueness in the pieces we wear. Our clothes are more than only the satisfaction of the need of covering our bodies. We use our clothes as an expression of ourselves, our personality, our emotions and mood so we have to be selective with the aesthetics, the quality and the way they are produced. I voluntarily chose to work with hand embroidery and some hand paint as opposed to machine embroidery and printing: we use less energy and we offer work to more people creating a unique garment that has to be a pleasure to wear. We try our best when we choose materials as well, giving priority to organic cotton, recycled fabrics, fabrics created using renewable energy.

You’ve lived and worked in many countries – how important is it that workplaces embrace different cultures and diversity?

I always made a point of never being a tourist but a traveller when living in different countries. Instead of taking my background with me and creating a small world, I have always been open to blend with the reality I was so lucky to be offered.

I have lived in amazing countries and met fantastic people and who I am today is definitely the sum of all that beauty, uniqueness and richness.

The language and the food of each country are the doors to the culture of that place and I was always very keen to learn both. I am very happy today to have my family speaking several languages and with a story to tell starting from the place each of us was born.

In the workplace nowadays, I  like to think  there are no borders at all thanks to the support of technology. To have the opportunity to work with people all around the world is priceless. If we make use of our curiosity and respect, the interactions are fertile soil for the most amazing adventures and magic to happen.

What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own businesses?

  1.  Take inspiration from those around you. Their stories. Their uniqueness. Their creative journey. They can be children, they can be strangers, they can be absolutely anyone.
  2. Do what you enjoy and enjoy it to the fullest.
  3. Learn. Do not be afraid to broaden your horizons and knowledge.  An informed person is a successful person therefore gain that knowledge and use it to your advantage.
  4. Never give up! Have the attitude to face life with a smile, the capacity to dream wild, and to not be afraid of giving your all.
  5. Probably the most important one: Believe in yourself!!! The best is still yet to come!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

Surely my first task is to make stronger what I already achieved while working on new projects and adventures. I feel that we need to find motivation and that spark of magic everyday in order to become and stay successful. The day you think you got to your destination needs to be only the starting point of your next journey.

Soon I will start a collaboration that will take me to tie knots with my country supporting and encouraging amazing women in Napoli, my home town.

The ‘secret’ wish to write a book is there and now more than ever ready to come to life.

After making stronger relationships with European stockists, it would be time to expand over the borders of the UK and Europe and start exploring farer destinations.

Also my podcast is going through a restructuration to become a more useful tool at the service of women and their abilities to be independent and successful but also raw and realistic.

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