Inspirational Initiative: Mariam Guessous Talks Motivation

ADC Member, Mariam Guessous not only drops by ADC to teach Ignacio how to brew Moroccan tea but also to fill us in on her adventures with the Club and abroad. Mariam studied advertising and dance at The University of Houston. After graduating in 2010, she has worked her way up to Art Director at Launchpad, all while launching her own initiatives. In this interview, find out what inspires our inspirational member!

ADC: Tell us about your first day of advertising in NYC.

Mariam: My first day went surprisingly well! I was so excited I could throw up. The people at Launchpad were all very welcoming. I started on a Monday in December, and that very morning, I was assigned a holiday card project for one of our clients and it was due that same day. It was hectic because the deadline was immediate, but at the end I got it done and felt so proud…I now look back and laugh about it, it took me all day to do one basic card! I’m much faster now, I promise.

ADC: Is there another project that tested your advertising acumen?

Mariam: There are many! One that was very interesting but equally difficult was the rebranding for the No Fear brand.

Everlast who owns No Fear wanted to do a brand campaign without mentioning or showing any No Fear apparel. I thought to myself: “How can you do a campaign for a clothing company without mentioning the clothes?” It turns out it’s possible.

We focused on the attitude of the brand and what it means to have “No Fear”. Our whole campaign was very aspirational. We focused on awe-inspiring shots of people doing extreme and amazing activities, these people never hold back, their comfort zone is up in the air while perfecting that backflip or that new trick that hasn’t been done before.

ADC: ADC knows that you are all about passion. Let’s discuss some of your passion projects.

Mariam: Oh I got a bunch of those. Down to Earth Trail Mix is one of them. This project is a passion project for all of us at Launchpad. Scott, our President is a partner at a company called Power of fruit and Down to Earth Trail Mix is another brand they took on, so our assignment was to give it a name, a look with almost zero budget.

Before we came up with a name. We used to call it “Sack o’ crack.” That’s because It’s addicting. We obviously couldn’t actually use that name, so we came up with the current concept, logo and packaging and of course, the sassy bird.

Essentially, it’s an organic trail mix made from the best ingredients from all over the world, like Dark Chocolate from Ecuador and Coconut from The Philippines. It’s made in small batches and uses a dehydration technique instead of roasting to preserve all the nutrients. It’s good stuff.

During my first adventure club, I kept thinking, “Down to Earth should be here” I had some with me and passed it out. Most people responded with, “This is one of the best trail mix I’ve ever had!” Now thanks to you guys, Down to Earth is the official trail mix that enables the adventurers of the club to keep going.

ADC: Talking about keeping people going, who is the Brook of “Dear Brook Blog” who keeps juniors afloat?

Mariam: I’m Brook. It’s my Alias. This is a blog I started 2 years ago and It’s inspired by the Dear Abby column only it’s all about Juniors in advertising. I wanted a place where I can share my thoughts with others without them being distracted with “Mariam”. So Brook became my alter ego.

ADC: What’s the mission?

Mariam: My mission is to unite, educate and inspire juniors in advertising. When I first moved to NYC, I realized that there weren’t many resources for juniors and students. I needed somebody to tell me exactly how it is, so I decided to become that person; I don’t sugarcoat anything. Advertising is hard. It’s not for everyone, and my readers appreciate the honestly.

“I don’t think too much, I just do. If I have an idea, I’ll figure out a way to make it happen.”

I started this blog to share my experiences and use them to advise others. Two years later, I get to connect with people like myself. We share ideas and collaborate on projects. I was very surprised by how fast it took off. At first it felt like a diary then I got Google Analytics and started seeing readers from Australia, India, UK… It’s crazy.

ADC: Do you find yourself learning things through it too?

Mariam: Definitely. The most important thing I learned was that in order to learn, you have to DO. I learn by doing, as simple as that. I meet many people who talk about things they would like to do or they come up with an idea and never bring it to life only to later realize that someone else beat them to it. I don’t think too much, I just do. If I have an idea, I’ll figure out a way to make it happen. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just do something else! But at least I tried it. This is how many of my passion projects started.

ADC: Is this how Sandy Relief Project started?

Mariam: Yep! During Hurricane Sandy, I was stuck in my apartment for almost 10 days. I was watching the news and felt so helpless and wanted to help, but we couldn’t really go anywhere. But I did have Internet. So that night I was talking to my friend Kelley and my friend Vanessa and we came up with an idea that’ll raise money for those affected by the hurricane.

I designed posters, T-shirts and iPhone cases and put them up for sale. Using word of mouth and our personal social channels only, we were able to raise money for those who needed it most. People who were stuck like myself were still able to help. All the money we raised was donated, and it was done all through the Internet.

If anyone wants to buy anything, the store is open and people still need help.

“The first time I came to NYC to visit, I knew this is where I needed to be.”

ADC: Well that’s some marketing! What other professional skills do you find applicable to outside projects?

Mariam: Well, I didn’t go to design school, and that’s probably my biggest handicap. It’s also a blessing sometimes because I’m so hungry to learn! Being on the job, I design everyday, so I keep polishing my skills and that helps me on my other projects like the Sandy Relief Project or even my blog.

For example, #365ofEmpireStateBuilding is another project I’m currently working on. It’s a collection of photographs I took of my favorite building. I basically take a picture of the ESB everyday for a year, I’m at 230 already! It helps me polish my photography skills, but I’m mainly doing it because I want to show that this building never gets old. It’s always beautiful and majestic, no matter the time of day or the angle.

ADC: You’ve lived in NYC for over two years, but obviously you continue to find inspiration from this city.

Mariam: The first time I came to NYC to visit, I knew this is where I needed to be. It’s something about the streets, the culture, the energy… I just felt home. I think it’s because NYC pushes you to your limits, and I really love that. I’m always inspired by things I see and people I meet, and that keeps me going. Just coming to events here at ADC and hearing people’s stories makes me think­—“Wow, these people are amazing! I need to catch up!” It works every time! And I love it.

Learn what’s next for Mariam by following her @MariamMouna or @DearBrook, friending her on Facebook, and connecting with her on LinkedIn.