September 13 2018

Introducing Maggie O’Reilly, Founder of Mayta Collection

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I have always had a passion for the Latin American culture, ever since high school. I fell in love with the Spanish language and when I got the opportunity to study in Mexico, it opened my eyes to the culture, weaving and artisan creativity that these communities had. Soon after I met my husband who is from Peru, I was exposed to the traditions and culture of the Peruvian people. I knew then that this would be the best time to begin a company where I can work side by side with artisan groups on creating beautiful textiles and incorporating them into up scale handbags and accessories. I wanted this company for my children, so they could see where they have cultural connections and to also demonstrate to them as a mother about being a strong person, dedicated to helping others and being successful while also taking care of my family.

What exactly is MAYTA Collection?

It is a brand that embraces rich cultural history & traditions from Morocco and Peru fusing textiles with trend forward designs.. We focus on transforming the weaving and embroidery traditions that both countries specialize in and develop and create each into a beautiful handbag collection. We repurpose pre loved textiles and give them new life but also collaborate with creative designers on developing patterns and color palettes that are exclusive to MAYTA Collection. We want to think out of the box with forthcoming fashion trends yet embrace traditions. One of our main focuses is to assist in supporting these talented yet impoverished communities, mostly women who might struggle financially. Our signature brand has bold colors and innovative patterns for strong statement accessories for any outfit. We want the women who purchase our handbag brand to feel special, strong and not blend in with the average crowd. We want to embrace being different and to stick our neck out in all situations of life with courage.

What inspired you to start MAYTA Collection?

I always wanted to find a way to connect my future family to their culture and to give back to communities less fortunate. That is how MAYTA Collection began in 2016, and since then, I have expanded my brand with partnering with a leather workshop in Morroco where we repurpose textile pillows into handbags. I source the leather locally, and work hand in hand in collaboration with an artisan family in Marrakech, Morocco.

How did you come up with the name?

My husband is from Peru, so I started my company with Peru in mind. MAYTA is an Incan God from Cusco. I wanted my company to be traced back to my husband’s home country and heritage so that when my kids got older they would appreciate the culture and recognize where they come from.

Mayta Collection is a proud member of Chicago Fair Trade Association, can you tell us about that?

I am always looking for ways to improve our sustainable fashion impact and to connect with likeminded business owners and brands. Being a part of the Chicago Fair Trade Association has allowed me to connect with people who believe in similar principles about working with artisans, focusing on ethical work practices and developing a product that educated the customer where it comes from. For many of the CFT members and supporters, how a product is made and how their purchase is directly impacting someone’s life is important. With MAYTA Collection, we sponsor a child in Peru, through an organization called Coprodeli. Therefore, not only do we work hand and hand with artisans that are being paid fair wages. A portion of all our sales goes to support the school and learning experience for a child. We want our supporters and customers to know that with their purchase, they are directly impact this child’s future. The Chicago Fair Trade Association is the largest organization in the domestic US and using this platform we can connect on so many levels.

Is there a favorite product?

My favorite product line currently is the Moroccan Handbag Collection. These handbags are bold statement pieces that are the focal point to any outfit. The bright colors, mixed patterns, fringe and pom pom detail make the bags fun and functional. Our handbags are that purse that you decide to wear on a special occasion or even to a black tie event. Each bag is one of a kind and no two are alike. I have such a personal connection to each handbag that we design and craft because I go through many textiles and handpick the ones that “talk” to me. We transform these textiles and breath new life into our products. I feel so connected when looking at all the woven color combinations and knowing that the person who purchases this purse will feel a personal connection to it. The customer will be drawn to it and think “I have to have this”. I truly get excited once I see the outcome of each textile, my hope is that the passion I have for these textiles can find their way to someone who is passionate about themselves and how they represent themselves in life. These days there is so much negativity and our hope is that when you look and feel our bags, it makes you happy and allows you to express yourself.

What is your favorite part about running MAYTA Collection?

I really enjoy the creativity in developing new designs and incorporating textiles into fashion accessories. But the other thing I truly enjoy and really love is the connection with people I meet on this business adventure I am on. I have met an abundance of people that otherwise I might never connect with in daily life. I feel like these days, people get so caught up in their circle of friends and group that it is a bit difficult and sometimes intimidating to explore something different and unknown. I am not afraid to reach out to someone to talk about business, challenges that I face or fun projects that we both might want to embark on. I have met people on business trips to Amsterdam, met other women who have passion and love for Peru artisans and women in the fashion industry who allow me to think out of the box and challenge me to create more beautiful bags. I do not come from a design and fashion background, so I am faced with challenges every day that force me to learn. This business cannot be done alone, this women owned, small business entrepreneur tribe that I am a part of is such a healthy environment and I truly enjoy connecting with people and get excited when people I do not know reach out and want to meet for a coffee.

What is your least favorite part about running MAYTA Collection?

Hands down the mom guilt. It is a struggle that I put up with in my mind. Due to the fact that I also have a full time job, where I travel and leave my family, I feel torn sometimes with the meetings and extra time I invest into MAYTA Collection. However, I try to incorporate my young children, 5 and 2.5 into as many projects, trips and photo sessions as possible. My hope is that one day they see, understand and want to be part of this company. That they understand the reason why I do this and that the success of the company is a true result of my passion of merging their Peruvian heritage and their American born life into something to be thankful for. I would not be able to do what I do and dedicate the time I have to without the support, encourage and cheering my husband has for me. He is the fuel to my fire and I am blessed having him on my team.

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How do you spread the word about your company?

Social media is a huge component for me, primarily Instagram. I know each business operates a bit different, but Instragram has really served me well over the past few months. I don’t dive so deep to get stressed out about the algorithim, I just post authentic content, beautiful photos, connect with others that I feel share the same passion and share slices of my life that I feel like could be relatable to others. Instagram has catapulted me into the right direction. So many new opportunities in the past several months have come up because of Instagram. I also try and meet as many people face to face as my limited schedule permits, so people can see the face and personality behind MAYTA and hopefully they will remember my brand, my principles and my passion in talking with others.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

• Don’t be afraid to try new things in the business
• Network with other entrepreneur to learn things, collaborate on projects and to help each other with issues
• Ask for help in areas that you are struggling, not everyone can be a guru at everything within a business. I think when you are first starting off you are wearing so many hats and juggling so many projects that nothing seems to be moving in the right direction. But then you just take a step back, ask for help on things you struggle with and run with what you are good at.
• Give yourself credit, we are so quick to compliment and praise others for the work they do and how far they have come – yet we beat ourselves up
• Don’t compare – I know, easier said than done, but the grass is not always greener on the other side. Be yourself, be true to your family and you business colleagues and you will naturally propel forward.

Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? ☺

“Doubt kills more dreams that failure ever will” ~ Suzy Kassem

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