Maria Wills started a fashion show production company when she was only 18 years old and it has evolved since then. Currently she provides event planning, hosting, motivational speaking services, and consulting as well as produces her own weekly, monthly, and annual events. Read our interview with the lovely Maria below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
When I was a young girl I did a lot of modeling and acting, but I was always fascinated by the production side. When I was in college at Drexel University I decided I wanted to do a fashion show to build awareness of a St. Jude Hospital for Sickle Cell Anemia. My business branched off from that. I was 18 years old.
Tell us about your business.
My business is called Self-Explanatory Productions. It has evolved over the years. Starting as a fashion show production company and developing into all type of events. I coordinate events for others and also have my own. I currently host Spotlight Tuesdays, a popular open mic night in Atlanta, GA with live band, dinner, featured artist, and hosted by me. I am also a host, motivational speaker, radio personality, and media correspondent for Girl Power Hour radio.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I was 18 and fearless when I started my business. I started with coming up with my name, Self-Explanatory Productions, LLC. I thought it was clever at 18, now I would come up with something shorter. Then I started to look for a niche. To set myself aside from others. At that time it was my association with charities.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Currently my most effective way of building awareness of my company is branding myself. I pride myself in customer service and building relationships. I have spent the last year focusing on personal marketing.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
My biggest challenge had been balancing being a single mother and a entrepreneur.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I overcome these challenges by staying organized as well as remembering failure is not an option. I have someone who is more important than me that I have to succeed for. It is important that my daughter to see me accomplish my dreams.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
My daughter motivates me and I am also doing something I love. It is important to do what your passionate about. It makes it easier to stay motivated.
How did you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I distinguish myself from my competitors by being myself. There is no other Maria Wills. I also believe that what is for me is for me and what is for you is yours. It’s not a competition. Everyone can eat as long as you stay true to you.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I have received is to brand myself. People follow people they love and have a relationship with.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Be true to yourself and follow your passion.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
My favorite business tool is mentorship. I love being able to network with likeminded individuals.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I love to read www.blackenterprise.com.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am currently taking private public speaking classes.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
My goal for the next couple months is to start my own show. It is going to spotlight indie artist, business professionals, heros, and charities. I am currently interviewing and in the planning the stage.