We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Mauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colleen, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It’s funny to look at my early years and remember when I was putting in ALL the time in the world working “in my business” rather than “on my business”. I would spend so much time completely focussed on the minutiae rather than the bigger picture. My perfectionism would keep me obsessed with things that I believed would move me forward. When I stopped and really observed, I realized I was stuck in a hamster wheel of slow progression. I worked all the time….work, work, work. I was running on fumes and I had very little balance in my life – something had to give.
I knew I had a lot of potential with my design skills and a great passion and curiosity for marketing and business. With the help of mentors and my own due diligence, I slowly stepped off the wheel and started moving at a healthy and steady pace. Eventually, I realized my vision expanded and I was seeing things past my peripheral.
I call myself a recovering perfectionist. As I started to let go of my obsessive and unproductive behaviors, I was able to begin to hone in on the “good stuff”. Though it may sound cliche, I started working smarter, not harder. I went from working 70+ hour weeks to noticing how much more productive (and CREATIVE) I was when I took time to recharge my fuel.
These days, I find myself reflecting on my younger business self…. I’ve grown so much and wouldn’t change this process and story for anything. Though the hamster wheel habits weren’t super productive, they were ones of determination and fire. After all, growing a business from the ground up takes a lot of tenacity. If I didn’t start where I did, I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am today. To me, the evolution is the most beautiful and precious part of the story.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My design process starts simply: Concepts that have been floating around in my mind are transformed into simple pencil sketches on paper.
When I’m developing a new collection, I’ll arrive at the New York production studio with piles of drafts, which we use as a reference to bring those sketches to life in the sampling process. Sometimes, one design might take 4-5 rounds of samples before it feels just right. Once finalized, we make a spec sheet for each style (kind of like a recipe card), so that we can recreate the designs consistently every time.
The creative process makes my heart race, and taps me into a crystal clear focus, like I’m hunting for ideal resolution and it’s in the studio, witnessing my designs come to life that I know I’ve hit the mark. It’s both maddening and invigorating all at once! Our talented production team is proud to handcraft each CMD piece directly from our studio straight to you.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I just moved my shop back to the place where I grew up, near Asbury Park, New Jersey. I arrived in November of 2020 and haven’t been here since I was 18 so I feel I’m rediscovering the place myself. Being so close to the beach is such a gift..something that feels so familiar. I walk my dog on the beach nearly everyday thought I’m still getting used to the ocean being on the “opposite side” after living in San Francisco for nearly 20 years. When you visit me, you’ll meet my massive extended Irish family and I’ll surround you with the types of people who give you a nickname within 3o seconds of meeting you. Oh, and Manhattan is literally in my backyard – so there’s that! I’ll keep you posted as I discover more on the Jersey Shore.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to the strong women in my life…especially my fierce and beautiful mother. My siblings and I were raised by a single mom – a school teacher, no less. She had three of us on her back as she trekked her way and forged her own path. Though it was really hard, my mom managed to do it with such positivity and grace. We struggled together and because of the little team we had, our strong bond was forged through hardship and remains so today. My mom went on to get her masters and eventually become a vice-principal… and then a principal. Her career took her on lots of windy roads but she seemed unstoppable the whole way through. When she retired, I knew she was loved and respected in her community. I’m so proud of her. She’s definitely the person I look up to most in my life. I’m so grateful to call her Mom.