Maritza Davis is the Co-Founder and COO of Unseen Heroes, an Event Marketing Agency and DISPLAY: California a rotating retail space based in California. Under her direction, Unseen Heroes has developed award winning concepts such as GOOD: street food + design market and GATHER. Over the past 10 years, she has built a reputation for meticulously executing event activations and production for clients such as Fiat, MillerCoors, Crocker Art Museum, Zipcar, Wilson Meany, Domus Development, HOT ITALIAN and more.
Can you tell us a little about the many creative endeavors and cool projects you have your hand in? How did you get started?
I started working when I was really young. My grandparents ran their own business so I was exposed to two really hard working individuals. My mom, dad and stepdad also had really great careers and they are stellar at what they do and instilled a great work ethic in me. During high school and college I interned and worked with some great companies and agencies like Nordstrom and the Hillstone Restaurant group.
In 2005, Roshaun my then college classmate and friend and I met and I started to work with him and his music group. I received my BA in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and I wanted to get into entertainment PR, it was great working with them, they were touring and I learned a lot about business and the music and lifestyle industry.
Then in 2008, Roshaun, my husband and I started a creative agency that we called Unseen Heroes. We started working with Indie musicians, small and medium sized businesses and other creatives. We were getting hired for design, marketing and event coordination. We have now expanded our company to Unseen Heroes, our Events Marketing Agency where we work with a multitude of clients, DISPLAY: California-our rotating retail space that serves as a platform for designers that create high quality goods and we produce specialty markets and events such as GOOD: street food + design market, GATHER and the Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento.
The Display California Pop up shop is such a great concept. What was the inspiration in creating this space? How do you choose the themes and artists/products you feature?
Thank you! We actually developed the DISPLAY concept five years ago. We saw a lot of dismal retail spaces and in contrast we knew a lot of really amazing designers and creatives in our city and beyond that were independent designers. Our goal has been to create a platform for these designers and to rethink retail. We conceptualize new and fun retail experiences and we design the interior of the store to match the new installation. We opened with DISPLAY: Holladay on Black Friday of 2014 and since then we have been a Wedding Chapel and Love Shop, designer Kids store and our latest installation is “Golden State of Mind” which is a celebration of California and the amazing landscape we have here.
Our team sits down and we base themes off of trends, forthcoming trends, our target audience’s needs. Our team seeks out designers and designers, brands and makers seek us out. We have some really great brand collaborations with Madewell and Apolis coming up that we that we are excited about!
You have an agency that does event marketing and projects for other organizations and you have your own “projects” (i.e. Display). Which do you prefer and why?
I compare the projects we work on-whether it is for a client or our own, to children; each one has its own personality and requires a different approach for it to grow. I love them all and I am so proud as we get to see them flourish right in front of our eyes.
What is the thing you dislike the most in running your business? What is the best thing? What are the biggest challenges?
I hate paperwork…but it’s necessary in our company because of the reports, event briefs, space layouts, etc are usually pretty detailed. I mostly hate it because I am a minimalist and since we are in the digital age it seems cumbersome! The best thing has been watching our business grow, we have a great team and great clients and I am really grateful for that. My biggest challenge is to “turn off” my mind, I am always thinking on how we can make things better for our company, our employees, our city and our clients, or I get inspired and want to develop something new, I see opportunity everywhere!
What is it like to work with your husband? Do you have trouble separating work and family life?
It is great working with my husband, he and I have a ying/yang personality and we balance each other out. It’s not perfect everyday, but what is? We have a unique relationship and we are passionate about each other and what we do. We used to try to separate work and family life, but we found that that was more of a challenge and not what we wanted, but we were trying to take advice from people who told us we should separate our family and our business (side note: most of the people that gave us that advice did not work with their spouse or own their own business, so I started to find it hard to take their advice). Ultimately, we want our children to be apart of the experiences we create when appropriate. My husband and I both have really large families and they are an AMAZING support system whether it is helping with the kids or supporting at an event. I really don’t believe in separating work and family any more, from experience I know they can be combined.
How has becoming a mom changed how you work? Do weekend events encroach on family time?
Absolutely, I hustle harder than I ever have before because I want to give our family the best. We book our events about a year out so we are able to coordinate our schedule and take the time to be with the kids. We always reserve Sundays for family days, so that we can unplug and have fun together with friends and extended family.
Do you have any tips, resources, or tools for managing work/life balance?
Ask for help when you need it. Hire great people that care about your company and brands as much as you do. I have not found a tool that I love, I have tried countless agendas and apps, but I find a basic blank notebook, my iCal and my iPhone reminders and notes do the job!
What creative activities do you like to do with your kid(s)?
We love to cook, both of our boys love to read, Parker our youngest son loves Legos so we are always building Legos. Noah our oldest (my stepson) loves to dance and play basketball so we watch him and encourage his new moves! Starting a new business can feel very scary.
Do you have any advice for moms thinking about taking the plunge?
It is scary, but it’s a thrill. We have a business coach and she has been wonderful. My first piece of advice is start small and make a plan with goals, just three. Get a good accountant, attorney and business coach. Go with your GUT, every time I went against my gut I paid for it later. Really do your research on who you are working with whether it is a client or consultant for your business. Ask for what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I always compare starting a business to jumping off a cliff, you are on a free fall, it is one of the greatest rides of your life.
Fill in the Blank
If I could have a super power, it would be flying so that I could travel all around the world when I wanted to.
A famous person I would love to meet is Oprah Winfrey.
Looking out at the ocean inspires me.
The thing I love best about Sacramento is knowing so many people.