Check out our interview with influencer, stylist and social media entrepreneur Maria Molino.

Maria began her career as a stylist almost 20 years ago at an upscale fashion boutique– and, after buying for a collection of smaller boutiques, she decided that her true passion was working one on one with clients to help them refine their style and maximize their wardrobe. Helping others refine and maximize their wardrobes has now become a cornerstone of her blog, Simply Maria–– and empowering other women is at the heart of her recent business ventures as well.

Many entrepreneurs have had to master the art of the pivot during the past years’ pandemic– and Maria is one of them… Though she owned a successful styling agency and women’s retail boutique for the last few years in her hometown of Red Bank, New Jersey– The Haute Maven– Maria recently transitioned away from owning and operating a brick and mortar store into helping other business owners with their own digital marketing.

Follow Maria @mariamolino

Hi Maria, please tell us a little about you?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY to two Italian Americans in March of 1982. My grandmother always jokes that the world knew I was coming because I came home from the hospital in a blizzard–– it was pure chaos. I grew up attached to my grandmother and a lot of who I am comes from her, but I am also a lot like my mother as well. My clear need to be independent comes from her. I cannot function in an environment where I feel stifled. I relish in my need to be creative and expressive. Yet, I appear reserved to many when they first encounter me, and I’ve been told that can be intimidating. I walk with confidence, but am also fiercely insecure in my head. My reservedness is a product of that insecurity. Born from a very tumultuous adolescence where I was overweight, on the edge of poverty and relentlessly bullied for how I looked. I learned to hold my head high, but to reserve my opinions and thoughts until I felt I was in a safe zone. It’s taken years to overcome, and for all intents and purposes I have, but I still enter into situations cautiously, because behind that air of confidence there still lurks the memories of a scared adolescent girl.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Complicated, Emotional, Creative

Who is your role model?

Always and forever, my grandmother, Concetta. She shaped so much of who I am from such an early age. My love for fashion came from her. She is a trained seamstress and used to customer make clothing and Halloween costumes for us. She used to take me shopping at Century 21 on 86th Street in Brooklyn and we used to dog through bins of designer pieces.

How did you get started into the business?

I started in fashion while working in college. I had always been interested in fashion, and had opted to take a “safer” route in college. It was always in my head, however, so as I needed to work to pay my way through college I found a job working at a high end local boutique. I learned a lot there about what not to do more than anything, but loved working with clients and styling them. It’s because of that experience that I later opened my boutique, The Haute Maven.

How has this changed your life?

Fashion gave me courage. It’s strange to say, but it gave me the courage to express myself and channel my creativity.

Tell us about your work as a blogger?

I started my first blog before I opened my boutique, in 2016. From there I sort of fell off with it because of all the work I was putting into the boutique. After COVID forced me to shut down, I took the time to really explore where I wanted to go with it, and really give it more time and effort. It’s sometimes hard, because as a mother, I am really hands on, and I don’t have any at home help. It’s just me and my husband (when he’s not at work). However, writing has always been one of my passions. As a senior in high school I had run my school’s newspaper, as their Editor. Writing has always been a big part of who I am, and is one of the reasons I studied English in college. I am really hoping to be able to focus on it more and more as the kids get older.

Where or when did you found the love for this?

As I mentioned earlier, I had a very tortured adolescence socially. As a result I would look to escape reality every chance I could. My way of doing so was through reading. I would read constantly. I had a very good relationship with my local librarian. She would order me books if they didn’t have them in the house. Otherwise I would steal more advanced novels from my mother’s collection. So writing became second nature after that. Pretty soon I would start reading biographies on people who inspired me, like Gianni Versace. When he was killed, I wrote an entire paper on his life that I was allowed to present to his sister Donatella at an event in Washington, D.C. A true coming together of both my passions for fashion and writing, that is where I think my inner struggle to pick between the two started. However, writing came slightly easier than designing did.

What kind of topics do you like to blog about?

Fashion, of course! But also cooking, and traveling. I love writing about all facets of the world. Motherhood, however I don’t. Which seems odd for a very hands on mother of two. However, I am of the mind that every mother’s approach is personal and I don’t like others telling me how to be a mother, so I attempt not to impose my views too heavily on the subject to others.

How often do you create new content on Simply Maria?

I typically like to create new content weekly. However, I am in the process of revamping the website, therefore there hasn’t been much going on as of late. Stay tuned for new content coming soon.

What do you think is the secret to have a successful site/social media channels?

Consistency! Unfortunately, as of late, I have been slacking. Life throws us curves and I’ve been trying to keep up. Consistently really is key I’ve found. I look forward to being finished with my current project so that I can get back to consistently making content.

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

The Chronicles of a Chaotically Complicated Creative (More affectionately known as simply, Maria.

What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?

Jealousy is the killer if so much. It turns goodhearted people into monsters. So always be thankful for where you are and for where others are. Don’t let jealousy ruin your outlook. It will hold you back from progressing and reaching your own potential.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

Don’t be afraid to celebrate who you are.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Avocado! Leave it to me to pick healthy “good” fat! Haha.

And your favorite cheat food?

Potato chips. Always has been, always will be.

How would you explain your fashion style?

Fashion forward with a distinct focus on functionality and comfort.

How would your best friend describe you?

I have actually overheard her talking about me to someone and I almost cried. “She looks like a bitch, but it’s really just because she’s shy. She’s the kindest and most generous person you will meet.” Thank you Adriana.

What’s next for Maria Molino in 2022?

Lots more of everything: blogging, podcasting and travel to name a few!

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Thunderstorms, and kiddies cuddle on the couch in our pjs.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

In college I studied English Literature with a heavy focus on British literature from the Regency era. I would love to meet Jane Austen. I did my final paper on her impact on literature and feminism. I would love to be able to hear her take on the status of women in today’s world and compare and contrast her experience with my own. So many concepts from her books were before her time. I was lucky enough to visit her home in England before the lockdown. It was a bucket list item of mine, that was really magical to live out.

Name 3 things you can’t live without?

AJ, Sadie, and my self esteem.

What do you think of Social Media?

I look at social media the way I look at anything else. It’s a facet of life that shows illustrations of what people want to project. I take it all with a grain of salt. As someone who is very cautious as to what I share and what I don’t share, I’m well aware that not everything seen on it is a full scope of someone’s life experience. So I try to suspend a lot of judgement because of that. I do see how it can be detrimental to one’s self worth and I think teaching our kids how to navigate it before allowing them access to it is essential.

Where we can follow you?

Best place is on Instagram @mariamolino or on my blog simplymaria.com



Photo Credit: Kyle DeVesty