ALL WORK AND ALL PLAY - extraordinary women, entrepreneurs, and moms who LOVE what they do! September 11 2015, 0 Comments

I am excited to feature a very successful entrepreneur – Maia Haag – whom I first heard speak at a women's small business panel and was impressed by her authenticity, inventive product, passion for kids (and reading) and ability to build and sustain a thriving brand! 

Maia Haag founded I See Me! in 2000 - a collection of high quality, beautifully illustrated personalized children's books.  Her mission is to build self esteem within children - celebrating their individual unique qualities.  Maia's passion has developed into a multiple million dollar business and I See Me! has received numerous awards - most recently the Creative Child 2014 "Book of the Year" Award. 

Questions for Maia:

What do you enjoy most about what you do? 

"I enjoy the creative process of building things—products, a great leadership team, a company. The process of creating something out of nothing is very enjoyable to me.  I also really enjoy hearing from customers that their children love to read their I See Me! personalized books each night, and even bring them to school for show and tell. It makes children feel very special to receive a book that is all about them."

I See Me! is truly a special and unique gift for kids - can you tell us how you came up with this idea?

"My husband and I co-founded the company back in 1998, after our first child was born. We received a personalized book from another company as a gift for our newborn. We thought that it was a wonderful gift because it was personalized, but we also thought that it could have been done a lot better. The storyline wasn’t very interesting and the illustrations weren’t good. While strolling around a lake in Minneapolis with our newborn baby, I came up with the idea for our first book “My Very Own Name.” I wrote the story, and my husband, who is a graphic designer, found the illustrator."

How do you manage to run a very successful business and spend time with your family (we'd love some tips)?

"It isn’t easy! I manage it all better some weeks than others. After many years, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I will always feel “behind” at work. I’ve learned to live with that feeling. I used to spend my evenings getting caught up with work after the kids went to bed. But that took away time with my husband and also made it harder for me to fall asleep because I would activate my brain at night. Now I get up early if I really need to get caught up with work. That reduces the impact on my family."

"I’ve also found that it works well for me to schedule time for myself just as I would for other work meetings. I schedule exercise classes and lunch or dinner with my husband or friends."

What's a favorite activity that you do with your kids and/or as a family?

"We live near a large lake just outside of Minneapolis. We have a small ski boat, and we love to go to restaurants on the lake by boat. A typical Saturday afternoon outing in the summer is going to get ice cream by boat!"

What is your favorite book from your childhood?

"I am a huge fan of Dr. Seuss, particularly his book “Horton Hears a Who!” I love all his books for their creativity and wonderfully written rhymes."

What’s your superpower and why?

"My superpower is persistence. Having a really high dose of persistence has helped me throughout my entire life. It takes a lot of persistence to start a company because there are more questions than answers and multiple challenges along the way. Nine retailers might say “no” to carrying one’s product, but the tenth retailer could be a really good one. If a product or marketing strategy fails, the goal is to figure out why and do it better next time. Part of this is about seeing issues as opportunities and having the fundamental belief that success is always possible through hard work and persistence."