We had the good fortune of connecting with Ceceily Maraya and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ceceily, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have always known I was going to own my own fashion company. Fashion is one of the things I am most passionate about, as my journey with fashion allowed me to find myself. In 2016, I became a mother and I started preparing for my exit from the United States Navy, I knew I had to do something more. I came up with this concept where I would use my personal styling background to help women elevate their style however, I wanted to tap into how their style was a direct reflection of how they thought about themselves by merging life coaching and personal styling.
This concept would live in my notebook another three years before I would create styling services for mothers who were also entrepreneurs struggling with self-sabotaging habits, identity crisis, image confusion, low self-esteem, mom guilt, and success guilt. She would feel completely disconnected from the woman she desired to be, and many other mindset issues caused her to believe ultimately she was not worthy of living the life she most desired. I could reach, teach, understand, and inspire her because I was her. I would teach her through self-help and personal style development how to elevate her thinking and her style. Furthermore, I called the service and concept Style Evolved™. Style Evolved™ is more than another style community where you have a stylist who sends you outfits to shop, and you can ask them questions. It is a community dedicated to the entire woman. I have the opportunity to educate and inspire, daily. Yes, of course, you get style coaching and virtual shopping experiences, but you also have access to health and wellness coaching, self-care experts, mindset coaching, financial, and small business resources in one place. This is all centered around mothers who desire more, but also desire a community that inspires her to be her best self daily, and look great doing it!
I wanted to build a platform and a community that supported this concept and service, but also make it accessible. Believing and understanding that we are all impacting the lives of someone around us is more than money can buy. Being a mother and a woman of service is my pride and joy. I happen to also be a mom who felt alone, misunderstood, and in need of a community. I found myself being a mentor already to others. So being able to create Style Evolved™ as a Life in style coach and provide this service has been such an amazing accomplishment and I hope to impact the lives of women globally.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I started in fashion retail sales in 2005, I found myself in love with going to work and helping people find outfits and hearing everyone’s life story in the fitting room. It was quite remarkable to be in an industry where no two days were the same. I loved what I did so much, I went to college for Fashion Marketing and Management, I wanted to know everything I could about the business of fashion. I was in management by the time I turned 19 and that’s when things got real.
My life was centered around the business and customers, I worked most weekends and every holiday. The store had become my life. When I decided to enter the military in 2013 I believed I had the mindset to be successful and because I was already living a life that did not give me a lot of time with my friends and family, why not do something different. When I entered the military, it was my ability to be of service and listen which I learned in retail that helped me to be successful in a short period of time.
Now, having the experience of both my fashion retail background and military as an entrepreneur has honestly shaped me to be the best I can be every day. From my retail experience, I understand clothing, fit, where to shop, when to buy, quality of clothing, and customer service experiences. My military background sharpened my skills in starting and completing tasks, showing up even when I do not want to, and having the mindset to be a leader and change agent no matter the task.
Nothing was ever easy, it took years for me to be confident in the fact I am a great leader, hard worker, and someone who believes in always being of service to others. While always pushing past career stereotypes and also being aware of the needs and vision of the business. Some people hated that and wanted me to pick a side and make me believe I could only care about the business, or only care about the people, however, I care about both and that is always okay. Also, I never wanted to be one or the other. I was both, and it made me someone you could, trust and depend on. However, never easy, especially as a black woman, to be educated, honest, open, and as kind as possible.
What I have been able to accomplish with my brand is that I allow other women to highlight themselves in the way they desire. We are multifaceted individuals, we should be able to show up that way no matter what. Yes, it may be challenging or new, but it will be worth it. Be good to yourself, always work hard because your results will speak for you. Be an example to others, never stop learning, and always be good to people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would get up early to enjoy a meal at Breakfast at Barney’s. We would then spend some time shopping at Perimeter Mall. Then take a nice ride to Dahlonega to enjoy some wine tasting. Drive back to the city to have a late, amazing dinner at Chops Lobster Bar. It would be a very busy yet great day!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to say thank you to my family, husband Cordero, thank you always for letting me be me. My parents, Marcus and Yolanda, for teaching my sisters and me to create our own lane and never give up. To all of my sisters Jackie, Samaria, Isis, and Miriam for being my personal cheerleaders. My circle, Emily, Taylor, Neeka, Jessica, Lasha, April, and Shay they are all incredible women who inspire me, A special thank you to my business coach Nikki Venus, CEO of Style Coach Academy for pushing me to think deeper and see myself as a powerful and impactful woman for myself and others.
Dream Lens Photography Shakirah Abdul-Rashid @_shakirahhhhh