Mailia and her husband Andy, a U.S. Marine, have been married for 14 years. Mailia is a small business owner and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Retail and Merchandising through Drexel University.
How did you and your husband meet?
We were introduced by a mutual friend, a fellow Marine, that Andy worked with. Our friend approached me and said he had buddy who needed a date to the ball. Since I am a former Marine, he thought I would be interested in going. A month prior to the ball, Andy and I attended a BBQ at our friend’s house and were formally introduced. We ended up going to ball and had an awesome time. Violà, fourteen years and three kids later, here we are.
What made you want to pursue your graduate degree? What careers did you have before that?
I wanted a graduate program in a field that would benefit both my short-term and long-term goals, and I needed a program that would fit into my current lifestyle (mom, mil-spouse, volunteer, and small business owner). In the short-term, this program aligned with my part-time small business, Verolia Bohemia, in which I offer eclectic vintage clothing and accessories online.
In the long-term, I hope to open a boutique in our forever hometown, post-military life. I also wanted to set the example for my kids, especially my daughter, who is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Design and Merchandising, that education is important. In past roles, I served in the military and worked in real estate as a general manager of commercial office spaces and an executive recruiter.
What are a few interesting things you’ve learned from your thesis research?
The best way to describe my thesis research project is a parallel learning experience. On one hand, there is the project itself, in which I am exploring the sartorial blazer (tailored jacket) as a staple in Generation X women’s wardrobes. One interesting fact about the blazer is that it is a single article of clothing that symbolizes power, professionalism, and fashion as well as a functional and versatile item. According to the Gen-X women participants in my study, they feel powerful, professional, and view themselves chic and sophisticated when wearing a blazer. These psychological aspects (symbology of power) positively affect their performance.
The other learning experience that I find interesting is I have learned to enjoy the research process itself. This research project has been a great opportunity to learn about a variety of topics within interesting fields fashion, psychology, and sociology. Additionally, I am able to sharpen my skills in market research, collecting and analyzing data, and writing.
If you could create your dream retail shop, what would it look like?
My dream shop is a cool location that cultivates creativity and individuality through curated vintage fashion and housewares. It is located in a small, charming town with diverse and creative people with a strong sense of community. I envision my store in a historic building with handcrafted details mixed with modern aesthetics, that are preferably handcrafted and sustainable. Imagine large windows that provide natural light and elaborate window displays. Inside the store, clean visuals display vintage treasures and artifacts that deliver an experience of connecting with one’s inner fashionista mixed with happy nostalgia.
What are some interesting tactics stores use to get us to buy things?
Have you ever Googled an item and then logged into Facebook and seen an ad for that item? Through technology, stores leverage data analytics to get us to buy things. Think about how many points of data there are where they are collecting information on our shopping interests, behaviors, and purchases. They are able to track what we look at on their websites and apps, and in some cases, track movement through their stores, as well as our purchases (typing in rewards numbers or scanning their app). This information is compiled to create customer profiles so they can better serve your needs and increase the chances of your spending more.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is ever evolving and eclectic. I like the dichotomy of classic and traditional with funky, rock n roll, and streetwear. I am a visual person and am usually inspired by something I see. I believe style is a creative expression that conveys one’s authenticity.
What is your favorite part about being a military spouse?
My favorite part of being a military spouse is being a member of an exclusive community of self-less, patriotic, high-caliber, empathetic, supportive, loyal, and diverse population of people from various places in the United States and the world. I have created special bonds with dynamic individuals who inspire me. The military family is bonded by a common goal and can only be understood by being a member.
What advice do you have for new military spouses?
First, be flexible and take advantage of the opportunities that are available to you within this military culture. The military life can present situations beyond your control. By being flexible, you will save yourself a lot of heartache, because in the end, everything finds a way to work itself out, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
Second, there are so many great opportunities available for military spouses. Be active in building friendships within the military community, become familiar with internal/external organizations who support the military (like Sandboxx), volunteer (in the event you may not be working, this will help with gaps in resumes and you get to support some awesome programs), utilize education benefits extended to military spouses, and lastly, travel via Space A, (there are opportunities to visit wonderful places around the world at minimal travel cost).
Being a military spouse is a privilege. Truly enjoy it!