Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this “Up Close and Personal” profile,we feature Maurisa Potts, founder & CEO of Spotted MP, based in Alexandria, VA. Photography for this series is by Cade Martin; Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.
Maurisa, please provide us a short bio:
I was born and raised in Vienna, VA, and currently reside in Alexandria, VA, with my husband and six-year-old son. I founded my boutique firm Spotted MP (Marketing + Public Relations) in 2008, after a successful 17-year path in corporate America. My practice focuses on businesses and non-profits in the areas of charity, fashion, economic development/tourism, arts, and culture. I have a dual background in creating and executing strategic marketing initiatives, as well as designing public relations campaigns. I dislike the word “publicist” because it doesn’t clearly describe what I or other industry peers do, as we offer a combination of high-level marketing and PR credentials.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I’m on the executive board of Fashion Group International and serve as the development chair for the local D.C. chapter. I am also on the executive board of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center and also a member of ColorComm (Women of Color in Communications). Past organizations include serving on the executive committee for Success in the City, a professional women’s organization; on the marketing advisory board for the Torpedo Factory Arts Center in Alexandria; executive board member of the D.C. chapter of the American Marketing Association, where I held the position of vice president of branding & communications; and also a former executive board member for the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. I’m a proud Hokie and enjoy membership in the Virginia Tech Alumni Association’s National Capital Region.
What are the things you are most proud of?
Professionally, it would be taking a leap of faith and starting my own firm in 2008 while the nation was in the middle of a severe economic downturn and had a high rate of unemployment. Also during this time, I had a newborn at home and professionally was dealing with a difficult work environment. My personality is very Type A and going out on my own after years in the corporate world was a bit terrifying. There is a saying I like – “Act. Believe. Receive.” and these words kept me going to help build my business and see where this journey would take me. I am so blessed to have some lovely and well-known businesses to call my clients. Looking back, I remember some wonderful growing pains which was a sign that I needed to continue to move forward. It’s personal validation that my personal style and services are having an impact on businesses that need marketing support. I am a big believer that things happen for a reason!
Personally, I am very proud of my six-year-old son, Derek. He is my everything and many friends see me post lots of pictures on Facebook of my little man.
Who are your personal role model?
My personal role model would 100% be my ‘colorful’ mom. I say colorful because she is a hard-nose woman who doesn’t put up with a whole lot of nonsense but, yet, is highly respected. She raised me as a single mom and seeing how hard she worked to make sure I “flew right”, and the strong work ethic she has, taught me a ton of life lessons. I was the first girl in my family to graduate from college – paying for schooling with a combination of educational scholarships, student loans and working. I would not change a thing regarding this. She also taught me to never settle, and that it’s OK to “ruffle feathers” if it means staying true to what you believe in and staying authentic.
Did your role model offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
The main advice I learned from my mom was if you want it, you have to work for it. Nothing is handed to you. No one should act as if they are entitled. Everyone can achieve their goals if they are driven and put their mind to it. Be fearless and speak up.
What professional advice do you have for others?
It’s simple. Say “thank you!” I feel the art of the “thank you” is dwindling. It’s so simple to do, but many people fail miserably at it. Appreciate those who help you, be genuine and, if you can, pay it forward. If you didn’t come up with something, don’t take credit for it. Acknowledge others for their accomplishments or ideas.
What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire in business?
When I am not at client sites or meetings, I mostly work from my home office or at a favorite remote spot in Old Town. My firm’s associates work remotely as well and we meet in person when necessary. When I am home, I am casual, but neat casual.Desiree Rogers had a great quote about this topic as women at times feel the pressure to be appropriate but not lose their style identity: “A woman of authority doesn’t have to deny her interest in style to appease those who would use it to paint her as lacking in substance. She can stand firm.” My style tends to be sophisticated chic – mixing timeless pieces with on-trend items. My fashion ideology is “you are your own brand” and you can achieve being both professional and stylish, without losing your personal style identity. Personally I am not a conservative person. I love it when people – men and women – push the fashion envelope and stand out and yet still look polished. If you see me out and about, 85 percent of the time you will see me in a dress. A woman can look put together, neat and polished in minutes.
What are the places you buy most of the business clothes you wear?
For department stores, my two favorites will always be Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor. Both have incredible dress selections and a great petite section. Local independent store favorites are Current Boutique, Mint Condition, and Chic Envy because I enjoy a revolving wardrobe and enjoy “thrill of the hunt” of consignment shopping for good designer gems (also I’m an avid consigner). Another local favorite in Old Town is Hysteria. For shoes, it’s The Shoe Hive and Bishop Boutique and, for accessories, it’s Lou Lou Boutique. In addition, I am big on the importance of fit and form. It’s rare I can wear anything just off the rack because I am so short, so I invest in a tailor so my career pieces have the proper fit.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I have two big passions: fashion + sports. It’s not uncommon to see me earlier in the day dressed in a fancy designer dress and high heels, then change to my favorite sports team jersey and a ball cap. I am a huge sports girl. I listen to sports-talk radio daily and love studying stats. My dream job would be something in the sports marketing arena. Oh wait! I’m in my dream job already! Ha! Here’s to Mompreneurs!