Mariah Sherman

How did your experiences at CSUB help you find your first position after graduation? 

After graduation was a strange time of life for me.  I knew I wanted to move out of California, but I didn’t know where I was going to live and how I was going to make it happen.  My degree and my experience as a Manager on Duty at the SRC made it possible for me to get hired as an Assistant Manager with Abercrombie & Fitch.  My job at Abercrombie allowed me to transfer to Denver, Colorado, which is where I live now.  Those experiences at CSUB were crucial in providing the stepping stones needed for me to be able to own my own business today.

What career advice would you give our students?

You are exactly how you are supposed to be.  The sooner you stop making yourself wrong, or comparing yourself to other people, the sooner you can start to learn how to best utilize your strengths.  Once you figure out what you do best, figure out how to do those things even better, then start to figure out how to delegate the rest.  

How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today? Was there a pivotal moment? 

Today I am a Denver Artist and owner of the Moe Gram Art & Lifestyle brand. For forever I knew I liked to be the facilitator of “things.”  Project management and problem solving to this day are passions of mine.  

 When I started college, I asked people who were older than me for advice about life and what careers they were in.  Almost every person I spoke to told me the work they were doing at that time didn’t have anything to do with what they studied in school. In 2011, I wanted to study abroad. Kinesiology was my major at the time, and Museum Studies at the CSU Firenze, Italy campus was the only course I was interested in that had no language requirement. Based on what I learned from other generations, I realized if I was spending good chunks of change on school, then I better study what interests me.  So, in the Winter Quarter of 2011 I changed my major to art; in the fall of 2011 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy; currently in 2017, I own a business that allows me to pay my bills by creating art and speaking about it. 

What do you attribute your success to? 

I attribute my success to a lot of things.  The short list would be: the people that doubted me, the people that gave me a chance, the people that tell me to keep going, the power of meditation and prayer, practicing a life of gratitude, and confidence in my vision.

How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization? 

It is very important to practice finding peace in chaos.  The nature of my organization is very fast paced and there isn’t much time to focus on mistakes.  Instead we focus on growth.  We constantly ask questions like: How could we have made this a smoother process?  What can be done differently to improve craftsmanship? How does the end product reflect the ideas of the client? We take our answers to those questions and apply those new ideas to future projects. 

It is also important to experiment in the studio and do things that require very little thought.  These experiments can be anything from spilling paint onto nylon, or folding foam core in a way that it maybe isn’t folded normally.  From those experiments we then study the end result, ask questions, reflect on the process, and pull ideas from the interesting outcomes that we call “happy accidents.”

What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organization? 

 My most important decisions I face on a daily basis are how to best allocate company time, money, and resources.  It is like Tetris for business.

What have you accomplished or overcame in the past that you thought was impossible at the time? 

 There was a moment when I had no money, my credit was in the dumps, my lease on my car was up, and I had to come up with a few grand to get a new car without skipping a beat in my growing business.  I was panicking just a little bit, unsure of how things were going to work, and scared of the big bill I was facing.  At the time I owed quite a bit of money to other bills and companies; because money was a little tight, I had been putting off some bills to pay off others.  That juggling act put me in a real stressful state of mind.  It wasn’t an easy part of life, but getting over that hump opened up so much freedom in my world and gave me confidence in knowing I can handle situations that feel like massive problems. 

What hardships did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Hardships are never ending.  They are a constant in life and overcoming those hardships means to accept them before they ever happen.  To find success in a career means you have to be okay with a bumpy road. It is necessary to be willing to roll with the punches day in day out.  Each shortcoming is a learning opportunity; one must be solution oriented and strive to move forward in all situations.  When life gets hard, have faith in knowing that what is occurring in life right now, it will not be occurring forever.

Who is a person that you considered as a role model early in your life? 

 My old basketball coach, Mike Lopez.  He is a Bakersfield photographer now.  I always looked up to him and thought of him as being someone with a sound perspective.  When I graduated High School, I would meet with him every few months to talk to him about my goals and my world at that time.  He helped me to sort through my ideas and figure out the times when I was getting in my own way. 

Which accomplishment are you most proud of? 

 I am most proud of my ability to finally live life on my own terms.  It was scary quitting my big girl job and going out on my own.  But now, I am proud to know that I survived.  I am the happiest I have ever been.  

Where do you expect to be in five years both personally and professionally? 

 Personally, I expect to own some property and spend more time traveling with my loved ones.  Professionally, I expect to be more focused on building my business around my lifestyle and maybe building a more automated and/or passive income.

We are also open to any questions or information (not asked above) that you would like to answer or include.  

 My time at CSUB taught me a lot about what I wanted out of my world.  CSUB taught me how to problem solve, how to work with multiple deadlines, how to present information to a client so that it is pleasing to look at and easy to understand. I left CSUB with a set of life skills that was not recognized until after I was gone.  Now, I can look back at my education with pure gratitude for my experience and encourage others to seek out similar opportunities. 

Mariah Sherman is painting