I was introduced to Holly at an 85 Broads event two years ago. I immediately knew she was someone I wanted to meet. To learn from. To have in my circle.
Holly's passion for social media, her mastery of business, and ability to balance her career and family is inspiring. I am looking forward to hearing her speak about her best, worst, and most energizing experiences as an entrepreneur.
Read her Q&A below. Get inspired. Come to the Launch Party + Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs. Get even more inspired.
Introduce yourself and business as if you were speaking from the cockpit.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is your Head Geek aka Captain, Holly Valente Maust speaking. I will be navigating you on our digital media path. Along the way to our destination you’ll learn more about social media, get seen with search engine marketing and learn how to integrate online media strategies with your traditional marketing plan. Please feel free to stand up while the flight is in progress and ask questions.
When did you earn your wings?
I started Interactive Swim in July 2010. It’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.
If you could name a nail polish color after yourself or your business, what would it be?
I would name it after myself, Hustle & Spark.
Every day I wake up ready for the hustle. The hustle of life. I thrive on it. I starting working on my 16th birthday and I haven’t stopped since. I love it. The spark is why I started Interactive Swim. I have a serious passion and spark for the digital space. I’m addicted to learning more about the space and figuring out how to help clients with it.
I’ve picked out the color for this polish. It’s fierce. It’s feminine with a hint of powerful no bs kinda feel. And that’s typically how I roll.
Not all flights are smooth. Tell us about how you handle turbulence in your business.
I go to my co-pilot, my husband for advice. He is my rock and a great sounding board. He helps me get through the turbulent time with his honest feedback and support.
There are going to be lumps along the way when running your own business. I try to look at them as lessons to make me stronger and a better business person.
At the end of the day the most important thing to me is my family. The turbulence that might happen with my business will not rock that boat.
Who is the wind beneath your wings?
I’m going to give you a list of women mentors but before I do there is one person who is the reason for me being an entrepreneur. My Dad.
My Dad can tell you down to the date the last time he got a paycheck from someone. It was from the NYC Transit Police. He was a Bronx boy, high school grad but with serious hustle. Serious hustle. My dad since I was 2 years old has built, bought business and lost businesses. You name it and he’s run it. Dry cleaner, taxi service, dog grooming, travel agency, maintenance company – the list could go on and on.
His hustle to make something better for his family and being willing to take risks definitely wore off on me. It’s in my blood.
And now my women mentors. There are two women that stick out in my mind for me.
Diane Crowley: I worked for Diane in Hilton Head Island as a waitress for her restaurant, Wild Wing Café when I was in my early 20’s. She took me under her wings (ha ha) and let me be her marketing intern. I was impressed on how smart she was with marketing and all the things she was teaching me. What I found out was Diane had no restaurant experience but came from the ad agency background. This blew me away. Restaurant business in Hilton Head is no joke. You need to know what you’re doing. But she made it work with her vision of good food and a fun place to go and her marketing savvy. Diane showed me that if you have passion and the will, you’ll succeed. Not only that but hard work. She hustled like nobody’s business. Hell, I remember one night that she washed dishes when the dishwasher didn’t show. That stuck with me. No matter what your role is in business, you gotta be willing to do the lowest man on the totem poles job. Hustle.
She now has 33 restaurants all over the southeast. 33. 22 of them are franchised. She’s a rockstar in my book.
Jill Bernstein: I tried my hand at living in NYC for a short period. I lived in the Bronx and commuted into the city where I worked for Jill Bernstein at Meredith Corporation. She was the Director of Public Relations and I was her assistant. Watching Jill maneuver in a man’s world was fascinating. She had a truck driver’s mouth, wore power suits and was demanding. I loved it. I learned from Jill that you need to be ahead every step of the game. Anticipate what’s coming up next. Don’t take no for an answer. I realized early in my career, especially from Jill that wallflowers and being timid don’t get you ahead. You need to put yourself out there, walk the walk and be prepared for anything.
Advice to other women as they navigate the business world?
- Never take no as an answer. Figure out the solution to that “no” and come back to whoever is telling you it.
- Be passionate about what you do. If you’re not passionate then find what makes you feel that spark.
- Have a vision in your head about what you want. Write it down. Use a vision board. Add details to it. The more you focus on these things, the more they will come to fruition.
- Network. Network. Network.