Looking for some inspiration this week? Read about the story of Maya Holihan who is a Virginia Raised Black Southern Belle who is changing the wedding world. The owner of House of Maya Bridal Salons and a host of other businesses, Mrs. Holihan is sure to be a force in changing the wedding world and one to watch. She is an inspiration to follow your dreams and do what you love. Read more about how this Black Southern Belle is doing just that:
House of Maya Bridal Salons
What You Provide:
House of Maya Bridal Salons is the expansion of Maya Couture, established in Norfolk, Virginia in 2004. Recognized by BRIDES Magazine as one of the ‘Top 50 Bridal Salons Nationwide,” until this month the store had blossomed into six distinctly branded bridal businesses: Maya Couture, Maya Couture on Main, Pure English Couture Bridal, Silk Social Occasion Studio, and Privee’ Bride of Ghent; and a wedding services company, The Bridal Dish® by House of Maya.
Additionally, under the House of Maya umbrella, we had House of Maya Prom, House of Maya Tuxedo by Sarno, House of Maya presents Uniquely Yours Bridal Showcase, and the publication House of Maya presents The Wedding Planner of Hampton Roads and Tidewater.
As such, House of Maya’s specialty has been the ability to dress the entire bridal party – and help couples craft the perfect wedding day by both offering the best in bridal fashion, as well as connecting them with professional planners and top-tier wedding vendors. We are a one-stop shop.
These businesses were located in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Suffolk, Virginia.
Where are you based?
Why did you decide to start a business?
After my time with Gianni Versace I spent a few years at Vera Wang. This is where I fell in love almost immediately with the bridal business and learned its ins and outs. When I got married and moved to Norfolk, I had a chance to buy a little bridal shop on Military Highway – and I took it! The rest, as they say, is history.
What is your favorite client story?
I chose bridal because of the significance of the wedding in our culture and the huge importance of the wedding-day experience in the lives of women. We never forget our wedding day! I have so many fascinating stories from over the years. But the most significant was when a pair of sisters came in to plan their weddings together because the occasions would be held less than a month apart. It was not till after the weddings that I found out the reason for this unusual timing. Their father was dying. The girls planned their special days so their dad would be able to walk each of them down the aisle while he still could. Their mother thanked me profusely for helping make such a happy occasion out of what might otherwise have been a devastating time for the family. It filled my heart with gratitude for the work I do, and for all that it means to people.
What is your website?
Who are some of your business idols?
Vera Wang would be one of my business idols. I also love Daymond John, Donna Karan, and Kimora Lee Simmons to name just a few.
Do you have any mentors?
I don’t have one mentor. I surround myself with many people I consider mentors. I try to surround myself with people I can continually learn from, and who challenge me to constantly up my game.
What is your favorite thing about being southern?
After more than a dozen years in Central Virginia, I AM southern! What I probably like best is the way a southern community can wrap itself around you when you need support, and how people take care of each other on such an elemental level. Also, how people seek solutions at the community level, first. In 2014 when, coincidentally, two local bridal salon owners had life transitions that required them each to sell their businesses – these were my “competitors,” mind you – they came to me. We were able to work together to structure deals that benefitted us all. That’s when Pure English Couture Bridal and Silk Social Occasion Studio came into the House of Maya fold. That meant a lot to me, and I feel that it was indicative of the southern way of life.
What is the most important thing you have done to build your business?
Keeping a focus on efficiency, and successfully addressing some key retail challenges. One of those continuous challenges is inventory management – this is huge for the entire industry. We are extremely fortunate to have had one brand, Privee’ Bride of Ghent, as our upscale consignment salon that helps us move couture samples and excess inventory – and gives brides unbelievable choice at unbelievable prices!
But we are redefining this capability and we’re going to use it for the greater good, because NEXT we are launching House of Maya Online, to help solve this problem on a much broader scale – potentially, industry-wide. For vendors, it could be a godsend. For brides, it will offer tons of new opportunities to maximize every dollar in the wedding budget. Here’s the video that explains it: https://vimeo.com/197400115
What is your favorite item or piece of clothing to wear/use while doing business?
Long, flowy dresses that evoke ease and femininity and are a match for my beautiful inventory – but that are practical and easy to work in. I’m bending and stretching, and on my knees pinning up hems and tucking in waistlines half the day. Comfort and ease of movement are essential. But I still need to look great and reflect the brand.