To find peace in the chaos. I started the exact month that COVID hit and lockdowns occurred. There were so many unknowns at the time that everyone was afraid of how we would meet business demands. Would our supply chain shut down, would our community stop engaging with us, would we need to implement safe procedures with shipping products…2020 ended up being our strongest year as a business, the year we hit $100M. Sales aside this year we engaged the most with our community, finding so many relatable topics for authentic sharing and connections.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mara Castro, Director of Brand Marketing and Communications at Arteza
Mara Castro is the Director of Brand Marketing and Communications at Arteza, where she provides leadership in creating the brand strategy for the company by driving awareness, acquisition, and retention across all the brand’s consumer-facing channels. Key areas of focus include development and implementation of multi-faceted marketing initiatives in social media, public relations, email, and influencer.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
One day a good friend of mine told me you would be great at PR. My response was really?! I don’t even know what PR stands for. But I was optimistic because I was currently working 70 hours a week in the hospitality industry. Interviewing wasn’t the hardest part, it was the project they gave me. In my interview I told the owner of the agency that I had to google 80% of the terms in the project. He later told me it was my resourcefulness and “get after it” mentality that scored me the position.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Recently, I traveled to Mexico to interview an acrylic painter whose work I fell in love with via social media. When we arrived with our cameras and setup he told us that we weren’t going to begin at his place but instead at his friend’s who has a beautiful home. To our surprise, she had a large cenote in her backyard that she had discovered a few years back, dug up and redefined. There was so much energy in that environment that in the middle of our artist profile my creative director and I couldn’t help but dive into the cenote for a swim. The rest of the experience continued to draw so much inspiration from Mexican culture and its gorgeous surroundings. It was magical!
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was at a dinner party with my family on a Friday night enjoying the weather and our friend’s backyard. I took a picture of my son fully embracing the same vibes and posted it to social media with the caption “Summertime Vibes.” A few hours later one of our customer service reps pinged me on slack to say, “I think you posted that to the wrong account.” I had shared my son in the Arteza stories and not my own. (I have all of our accounts linked together on my phone.) Coincidentally, we were having a summer sale across the website and after admitting my wrong doing, I told my boss that I was humanizing the promotion. What I learned from that moment was to not fret internally from a mistake, call attention to it where needed, fix it and move forward.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
A key focus of ours at Arteza is to pave a path for creative expression. In today’s society there are so many pressures of being “accepted” or “liked” that it can be intimidating to put yourself out there and publish your artwork. We want all creators to feel empowered to create without limitations and we look at everything through the lens of championing our creators whether it be through inspirational campaigns, content or education.
This year, we launched an empowering campaign, Fuel Your Creativity, that captured the voices and journeys of seven artists across the world (including the one in Mexico). Each artist shared their struggles, backgrounds, and triumphs that they faced in becoming an artist. This campaign challenged the norms of our industry. Traditionally the art industry focuses on the most elite artists who have received bouts of education whose artwork is featured in galleries across the world. We wanted to redefine what it means to be an artist in today’s world and give an inspirational nudge for budding artists exploring their art journey.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
That’s the beauty of this campaign, the impact was a quickly-accelerating snowball effect. Driven by the seven artists that we put at the forefront of our brand and all of its marketing arms, the impact deepened with every interaction. These artists were the reason we were able to make a global impact and inspire individually by fueling creativity across our millions of followers.
Pypah Santos, a Portuguese illustrator based in the United Kingdom, kicked off our campaign where she shared her story and artistic style. The campaign continued with Sarah Stribbling, an animal activist and painter; Spiros, a colored-pencil realist artist based in Athens; Peter Terrin, a vibrant belgian artist based in Mexico; and so many more.
Each artist shared their heart throughout the campaign as they talked about their goals, struggles, styles, and so much more. Our goal was to showcase their unique stories and passions to make a deep impact and connect with creators globally, and with their help we did just that.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Definitely! First, as a society we can all make small changes in our daily lives to make a positive impact in our society. Whether it’s volunteering for organizations that help your community or practicing random small acts of kindness, it’s important to show kids in our communities that being kind is cool and it’s okay to be yourself.
Secondly, something that can help address the root of this is to use our voices. Many times, that weight of feeling “accepted” into societal norms is because people don’t speak up to say the alternative is also okay. There are so many ways we can use our voice to make a positive change in our society and inspire others to live authentically. You can encourage those around you that you see pursuing a passion, write positive reviews for businesses that are making a difference, and use your social platforms to build awareness around causes that can improve the community.
Lastly, a driving force in helping make a social change impact that businesses can do is to create a mission-first brand. Even though the bottom-line can still operate as a for-profit business, being oriented around a socially impactful mission will help make a positive impact on society. Customers today often look for brands that align with their core values, so not only will you make a social impact change, but you’ll also help grow your business authentically with a great purpose.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership is providing direction to a person or organization through personal motivation and guidance. Every person is different, so being aware of their needs, strength, opportunities, and goals is extremely important in understanding how to motivate and guide someone towards success. In order to lead I think you need a strong sense of awareness.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- To find peace in the chaos. I started the exact month that COVID hit and lockdowns occurred. There were so many unknowns at the time that everyone was afraid of how we would meet business demands. Would our supply chain shut down, would our community stop engaging with us, would we need to implement safe procedures with shipping products…2020 ended up being our strongest year as a business, the year we hit $100M. Sales aside this year we engaged the most with our community, finding so many relatable topics for authentic sharing and connections.
- No artist is the same. This one is a big one. When we are producing inspirational content or education to put out across our marketing channels, we are constantly having to diversify the breadth of what we share. There are so many mediums, styles within those mediums, personal expression and much more that goes into an artist’s craft.
- You’re too old to understand TikTok. I still try to figure out how to bring our brand and creators to this platform. I don’t think I’ve made any headroom yet.
- You can make a difference above the bottom line. It’s no secret that a major goal for businesses is to make money, but I’ve learned that there’s a lot more than that. Having an influential platform gives us a big opportunity to make a deep impact with our consumers. Comprehending your consumers and building a community to help them feel heard is much more fulfilling.
- Social media is important to stay relevant. This piggy backs off some of my earlier responses. Without it, it’s hard for businesses to stay in touch with current events and trends. Building a connection with your consumers and engaging them to feel a part of your brand is one of the biggest ways in today’s atmosphere to stay top of mind.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To be your true self. I believe that self esteem and self worth are learned behaviors and if they are truly embraced/instilled at a young age, these traits can bring so much joy to yourself, friendships, work, relationship, and everything you do.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Once you make a decision the universe conspires to make it happen.” This coincides with my thought of, the more energy you put into something the more that you will get back. If I know I am putting all of my effort into a cause I can ensure that I am doing everything in my power to achieve it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would have loved to join Frida for breakfast. In more recent years, I have learned so much about her life struggles and journey as an artist. It’s not just her strength and bravery that resonate with me but more so how she positioned the many obstacles and ailments in her life from being negative deterrents and instead a part of who she was — an icon for female creativity.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Mara Castro of Arteza Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.