Read Time: 5 minutes
SEGD is a global, multidisciplinary community of professionals who plan, design, and build experiences that connect people to place. Our community includes over 2,000 members from 35 countries, and every person has an SEGD love story. Whether it’s participating in an event that advanced your design perspective, meeting someone who would become a lifelong creative collaborator, or discovering a new project that you were drawn to, SEGD has fostered countless connections over the years.
We’ll highlight a range of SEGDers leading into our 50th anniversary in summer 2023. Each member has a distinct SEGD experience, and all are connected in how SEGD has advanced their passions and pursuits. Follow the “SEGD Love Stories” series to hear from people who love SEGD.
Want to share your story? Please complete this interest form. We may highlight it over the course of the year!
Title: Graphic Designer/Social Media Marketer
What drew you to the design profession?
I was never gung ho on any specific profession and, instead, I wanted to feel out what was right for me as a person. I knew I loved art, so I started to explore — how can I combine my love for art with my desire to help people, while maintaining financial stability? Graphic design allowed me to combine my creative, out-of-the-box thinking with my analytical, logical side. It’s creative and artistic, but at the same time it's very goal-oriented, detail-oriented, and purposeful. It just seemed like the right fit; I get to create beautiful things that actually solve problems.
I also do social media marketing, which is a little bit of a different skill set than graphic design. Being a graphic designer doesn't necessarily mean that you're good at communication or understanding people, or that you're organized and time oriented. Those are where the analytical, business-oriented part of my brain comes in. I love to see a return on investment, to understand the social media marketing world and the marketing world in general. I can use my creativity for a very specific goal, like to grow a business or brand a company. The more I do it, the more I believe I’ve found the perfect field for me.
What’s your SEGD discovery story?
I found my way to SEGD through a funny culmination of events. At the time, I was looking for a job and my neighbor suggested that I connect with her friend who is a designer. When I spoke with Chris Clark, he recommended I attend the 2021 SEGD Conference Experience. It was the perfect scenario because the Conference was in Philadelphia, where I am based. I got a student ticket and went. By the time I attended SEGD — from the time I signed up to the time I attended — I got a job. It was actually perfect because I got to truly experience everything the Conference had to offer, rather than going in with a specific goal. I am forever grateful to Chris for suggesting I check out SEGD.
At the SEGD Conference, I quickly met two other young designers and we became fast friends. We all were level-headed, outgoing, and looking to make new friends. I also met Cybelle Jones, SEGD CEO, and I reached out to continue the connection after the Conference. Cybelle, one of the young designers I met in Philly, and I all try to meet up once a month for a Mentor Meetup. We catch up and talk about where we are now, our professional goals, and how to achieve them.
How has SEGD changed you and/or your outlook on the world?
One of the first things I noticed at the SEGD Conference was the many inspirational women in positions of power. It was the most incredible thing. Cybelle stepped up to the role of CEO in the middle of the pandemic when everything was virtual and COVID remained very relevant. The Conference highlighted so many kickass women and I felt lucky to witness it.
This was my first design conference so I had no idea what to expect. Everybody was there to converse and make friends. I met people who told me stories, such as, “I only see this person at this Conference once a year but I know their kids by name. I know their family. And we continue to stay in touch.” Everybody was so open, kind, and generous with their advice. I took notes during presentations because they were so beautifully conducted, I wanted to retain the information.
I didn't expect SEGD to end up being such a big part of my life, but I'm so grateful that it has. It’s a welcoming community and it’s run by such inspirational women. And it means so much to me that the CEO is willing to get together once a month to talk things out, offer advice, and inspire me as I advance my career and grow my business.
What’s next for you?
As I move through my journey of entrepreneurship, my goal is to use my graphic design and marketing skills to help other people grow their businesses. Having a very solid brand and brand voice is critical to stand out in this world; consumers are going to know your brand based on the content and energy you put out there. That’s why it is so unique and important to manage it properly. I'm currently open to clients that are looking to grow their brand and capitalize on the wave of social media marketing. I want to help brands build their community, establish brand loyalty, and retain their customers. For me, it’s really about the return on investment that we see when good design and strategic marketing come together.
For more about Maria and her work, visit www.mariawoyden.com/.