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Meet Maece Seirafi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maece Seirafi.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started off as a young child who was always into the arts. I was constantly experimenting with colors, different mediums, and all sorts of disciplines of the arts. I envisioned myself as a professional creative from a very young age and have always been fascinated with illustration and typography. Living in Damascus Syria my whole life up until 18, I was surrounded by so many artistic influences from various historic empires that have influenced the region. I walk through the old city of Damascus was a destination for me to get inspired and learn more about. There was something about going into the Umayyad Mosque and marveling at the Byzantine mosaics that made me come back for more inspiration whenever I was in that area. I would sketch for hours inside that mosque losing track of time. I decided to apply to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in favor of their strong illustration and graphic design program. I spent four years at Otis College getting my degree in Communication Arts and working in internships throughout the summers in Damascus, Syria. My design aesthetic was starting to be shaped by my travels abroad that kept me inspired for school projects.

I decided I wanted to keep what I was doing as a young graphic designer but I was thirsty for more knowledge and building my own branding studio that was shaped around the concept of cultural identity due to the fact that I saw a lack of it in my surroundings in Los Angeles. I was hungry for more knowledge and how to intertwine my Middle Eastern culture in an appropriate way that was applicable and spoke to a specific audience that addresses many of the concerns and issues faced as a Middle Eastern cultural identity in the U.S. I decided to go back to school this time at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) for my graduate studies in Graphic Design. I was interested to learn more about shaping my own design practice and learning from the greats like Ed Fella, Lorraine Wild, Michael Worthington, Jefferey Keedy, Scott Zukowsky, and Louise Sandhaus. It was a great experience that shaped my design thinking in a way that felt very well informed and needed for the times that called for more Middle Eastern designers. One of my goals was to immerse myself in more typography classes that’s where I started to get more into Arabic calligraphy and integrate that into my branding projects.

After graduation, I decided to go into freelance and establish my design practice as a Middle Eastern branding studio that focused on educational initiatives in Arabic speaking programs at universities as well as creatives who have immigrated from the Middle East to the U.S. who have established their businesses here. I also teach at CalState Long Beach and CalState Dominguez Hills. I’ve taught Introduction to Graphic Design, Intro to Typography, and Digital Design Tools.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was definitely a bumpy ride being in the creative industry. I felt like I needed a mentor or class just to figure out the business side of establishing a branding studio. I realized that it wasn’t enough to just have the talent and design skills but needed to think about expanding my practice by highering my prices and hiring more people on my design team as my projects started to grow to a variety of touchpoints for branding projects. I started looking for design mentors and stumbled across The Futur YouTube channel and was instantly hooked at the content and the amount of value Chris Do would provide for his community of designers who wanted to charge more and grow bigger. One of the struggles I’ve had was knowing exactly who my target audience, or so I thought, and realized quickly that they did not meet my minimum level of engagement. I had to do some shifts in my own business to attract the right kind of client I wanted to help provide value to their business.

That meant undergoing a complete brand refresh for myself, a new website, a photographer, a copywriter, a brand strategist, a social media consultant to figure out what was wrong to finally understand that in order to help get to where I needed to be in my business I had to match and mirror my ideal client and present my projects not just as a proof of our ability to produce aesthetically pleasing designs but the thinking behind all the branding work that was put in. I worked on putting together case studies and photographing my work in a way that felt more professional and well put. I started getting a different kind of caliber of clients that were actually interested in not only the aesthetics of the project but the brand strategy part where we dive deep into their purpose, value propositions, and their brand voice. It was a struggle to figure out at first but not knowing what to do was also another struggle which is where my coach really helped me set things clear.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Maece Seirafi Design is a design and branding studio that celebrates the heritage and culture of creative brands around the world. Our mission is to help creative entrepreneurs grow their businesses through branding and design that showcase their rich cultural heritage. Our vision is to push brands to create culturally vibrant experiences in a world of increasing conformity. By working with us, we offer a high-touch experience with experienced professionals who respect and understand the history, culture, and work industry our clients come from. We focus on brand design and strategy that helps creative entrepreneurs showcase their heritage.

Our brand Values focus on:
Culture: Celebrations of diverse cultures allow us to create richer, more meaningful work that tells powerful stories.
Honesty: Our clients can trust us to be intentional and transparent about our recommendations for growing their brand.
Education: Throughout the branding process, we aim to teach our clients branding principles that will help them find success throughout the lifetime of their business.
Joy: We want our work to inspire joy, from the beginning stages of our partnership to the end deliverable.

We are the only design studio that creates vibrant, immersive brands for culturally fluent creatives who want to share their story while growing their business. Our clients want to create a brand that tells a story, but they’re already handling a lot in their business. They are doing everything on their own and that’s just not working anymore. They want to free themselves up to do the creative work they’re inspired by and spend their extra time with family. They want to work on their business, not in their business, but they need to be sure they’re working with someone who hears and understands them and their needs. How we fill those is needs is by offering rich, culturally competent branding and strategy through a comprehensive process that lets us pinpoint their issues, interpret their ideas, and create an immersive cultural experience for their brand.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I have a sign up form on my contact page on my website that asks a few questions to potential leads. I’ve done a few brand collaborations on Instagram as well. Process 01. INQUIRY After submitting an initial inquiry, we’ll schedule a meet and greet call to get to know one another. We will discuss brand goals and determine a plan of action. 02. STRATEGY We’ll begin our work by discussing what defines the brand, determining your brand mission, positioning statement, and narrowing down your target audience. We’ll do plenty of research to back up our recommendations. 03. DESIGN After our brand strategy session, we will assess business goals and style preferences and get to work on the initial brand identity concepts. Sit back, relax, and let the magic begin! 04. DELIVER Once the deposit has been processed, we’ll deliver your files to your inbox so you can begin implementing your new brand materials right away.

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