By Nicole P.
The Femfessionals organization is an organization that brings together savvy business woman characterized as positive, open-minded, driven, professional, ambitious and desirous of forming strong strategic relationships.
A FEM as they call themselves is not only a great business woman; she is also philanthropic and cares greatly for her community.
Well this past March they chose their 2014 Top 5 Business Women of the year and our very own Maria Elena Holguin is in this esteemed group of women. Celebrating this honor with her is Felecia Hatcher, Misha Kuryla Gomez, Tracey Bell and Rina Jakubowicz.
We chatted with Maria Elena about this honor, her business, her family and her philanthropic projects in this beautiful city & abroad.
NP: We know you have been working in the design field for over 20 years, what is it like to open your own firm and it be so successful in only 4 years?
ME: I opened my firm in 2009 out of necessity after the downfall of the economy. There was no interior design firm hiring and no work so I had to reinvent myself and my marketing. I was lucky to have great relationships with past clients and showrooms that I had worked with and quickly got a call to do a 17,000 sq ft home in Tanzania, Africa and then several homes and offices of past clients. For the first year we built the company by word of mouth, relationship building and remodeling small projects.
NP: What does it mean to you to be a FEM?:
ME: . In 2010 I became a founding member of Femfessionals and the relationships I have built with these women have enriched my personal life and my business. I have been able to design homes & offices of many of the FEMS. Most of the services that I use personally and for my business are owned by a FEM. For example, my dentist, my spa, my travel agent and the team that does my marketing are owned by a FEM.
NP: What projects are you working on now and how do they affect the community?
ME: The Holguin team is working on 3 complete construction projects that are all over 8000 sq ft., 2 commercial projects and the UCP Baby House Project.
NP: What did you think when you heard that you were chosen as Top 5 Business Woman of the Year?
ME: I was thrilled and amazed because I consider myself more of an interior designer than a business woman. Yet I was told that it takes so much more to be a Top Business Woman than just business sense. They looked at community service, leadership, relationships and much more so I was honored, especially when I found out who the other 4 women were.
NP: One of the prizes was that you got to be dressed by the Macys fashion designers and you also did a fashion show? What was that like?
ME: I felt like a queen for a day! I loved all the fashion that they chose for me and was delighted with the entire fashion team of Macys.
NP: How do you and your firm give back to the community?
ME: I was born and raised in Miami and absolutely love my community. I became an interior designer to make the world a beautiful place to live one space at a time. Every year we design spaces for someone in need. I never know where the projects are coming from but they show up. I started in 2005 by redesigning and building The McLamore Center for Childrens Home Society and since then have designed a room for girls “last wish” and so much more… We are now doing the biggest philanthropic project we have ever done. It is a home for 15 young adults that have Cerebral Palsy. We along with a team of other professionals are tearing down and building a state of the art facility for them. Anyone can see the project at: www.ucpbabyhouseproject.com
NP: How do you juggle career, business, home & philanthropic projects?
ME: I push myself and push harder! I love interior design, arts and architecture so it never seems like work. I have been doing interior design in Miami for so long and built such great relationships with clients, vendors and showrooms that it feels like it could run itself and I hope one day soon it will so I can relax some more.
At home, my husband and I have put 20 years of hard work to build the relationship between ourselves and our children as a respectful, loving, nurturing team. Everyone knows that family and God is first and everything else is just stuff. We have also taught by example so our 3 kids know that education, being the best at whatever you choose to be, owning your own business and giving to your community is expected.
NP: Tell us about your Design It Live It Foundation?
ME: Oh this touches my heart so deeply. I had to find a way that I could profoundly change lives by using my design talent. Working on one philanthropic project a year was not enough so I opened the Design It Live It Foundation.
The Foundation will raise funds to continue the design projects in our community, it will have workshops in 3rd world countries to help women design their lives and live them full bloom, it will also have a series of books and events for women in the US to design it live it!
Whether I am designing a baby room or an entire community I put my heart and soul in it. My father always said, “It doesn’t matter what you do in life but whatever you do, put your heart into it and leave everything better than you found it”. I am very proud of being a 4th generation designer and will continue my great grandfather’s legacy.
NP: What is next for Holguin Interiors, Design It Live It and Maria Elena’s personal life?
Holguin Interiors team is launching design packages, our own home fragrance label and more products this year and as I explained Design It Live It will be doing some great projects for the community this year also.
As far as my personal life, I plan to live a long life with my husband completely in love, continue raising my 15 year old daughter Alexa and being there for Natalia and Sean in their business ventures supporting anything they want in life. I also plan to travel, travel and travel!!