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Meet Mary Strause of Vagabond et Virtuosa in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Strause.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Coming from a small town, Rio, Wisconsin, (population 1053), I’ve always had big dreams of bringing the world together through inspiration, love, and imagination – though it took until just about a year ago to figure that out. I grew up writing and illustrating my own children’s books, taking every opportunity I could to sing (whether it was in front of hundreds or to the video camera set up in my bedroom), drawing, painting, taking pictures, and making my own videos. I was also an avid world-traveler by the age of thirteen and found a passion in this as well.

The thing was, my family, did and still runs a very successful business, therefore, I figured that was the route I was going to take in life. So, after I immersed myself in every high school sport, club, organization, community including the president of the student council, I decided to go to college for a degree in international business and marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

Although an incredible experience and a place I will love forever, the life of structure and academia weren’t entirely for me. Though I enjoyed learning, I was much more hands-on and creative. I loved being around people and making them smile while going on an adventure and creating a story of our own. This is when I met someone who was studying film, and my mind was blown. I didn’t know someone could do that as a career? It wasn’t soon after that that I discussed with my parents that I was switching my major to Film and Theater, and surprisingly, they were thrilled. They just had me do something that would change my life forever, to make sure it was really what I wanted to do.

That’s when I attended Relativity Workshops for film directing. This was a three-week intensive that turned into a scholarship to attend their newly developed four-year BFA program at was then known as Relativity School, now Studio School LA. I was a part of the inaugural class within the film and digital content program. My four years here changed my life for better and for worse – but ultimately came out of it all discovering who I was.

With trials and tribulations within the entertainment industry as someone who delved into many avenues (film, acting, modeling, singing,etc. ), and being judged upon my bubbly personality, kindness, and the way I looked, no one took me too seriously, and in turn, tried to take advantage of me. Of course, the moment anything like that happened, I turned the other cheek and said, “I don’t need you to succeed,” and I was right.

This is when I decided I’d create a platform for women like me, who was in love with many art forms but was constantly told how to express herself within them, and how to look along the way. I also didn’t just want to limit this community to just in Los Angeles, but all around the world, where women are constantly struggling to even feel comfortable putting themselves out there in such a vulnerable way. Therefore, Vagabond et Virtuosa was born.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Has it been a smooth ride? Oh, heavens no. I came out to Los Angeles at nineteen with a twinkle in my eye. Since then, they have seen severe unkindness, crime, terrible poverty, and a reflection of someone I didn’t recognize anymore in the mirror.

When I arrived in LA, I had such a big heart, and a smile always stretching across my face, just as I had, had for the eighteen years prior, but after experiencing individuals in this industry who exuded nothing but cynicism and a need to bring others down, I let that affect me. Sooner than later, I became more negative about most experiences and people. I always gave my all and still did everything that made me happy, but I didn’t want to spend any more time than I had to around the negative voices, or else I would more than likely end up being like one of them in the long run.

With this process, I was constantly depressed, unable to find friends I could connect with, and working myself to anxiety attacks to make myself (and probably prove to others) feel like something more than just a blonde-haired girl with dreams, and along the way, losing the love for what brought me out here in the first place.

Ultimately, it took getting away from it all in order to find and be me again.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Vagabond et Virtuosa – what should we know?
Goodness, gracious, I am SO excited to share more about this! I’m getting butterflies just thinking about it.

Vagabond et Virtuosa is a platform and community for female artists from all around the world, who also want to travel the world and create their art. Here, women can find solace through other artists going through the same things as they are mentally and career-wise, inspiration to get out there and create, along with advice via the entertainment industry or traveling, and proof that you can make your art and share your gifts by your own means, from wherever, whenever.

Vagabond et Virtuosa, in its essence, means a wandering and skilled female artist. In my mind, there could be no better name for our mission.

Besides the galleries, vlogs, and blogs within, this proof comes from Vagabond et Virtuosa’s “store,” “Mary’s Spell Shop.” This store is an online clothing boutique that collaborates with female artists from all around the world in any platform of self-expression. With this, the artists wear the clothes we sell, and Mary’s Spell Shop creates video content of them doing their craft. This could mean creating a music video for a singer, a concept video for a dancer, a practice video with a voice over for a yogi, an actress or spoken word artist performing a piece, a video documenting a painter’s work, whatever artistic gifts women need to share – we want to create an opportunity and platform for them to do so.

I went to film school and concentrated in directing and screenwriting, but along the way, I became someone to go to shoot concept dance videos for my classmates in the commercial dance major. With this, I got a knack and a passion for it, and this is what got me to thinking, “why shouldn’t I expand my reach?” I also paint, sing, act, draw, do yoga, and the like myself, and there aren’t many opportunities in the industry where you’re able to express your true self unless you create the chance to yourself – and that’s what we are doing with Vagabond et Virtuosa and Mary’s Spell Shop.

Lady artists from all over the world reach out to me, or I reach out to them, and I travel there to film them after we’ve planned a concept together, and then I edit it, and we put it out into the world. This promotes the idea of being able to travel the world and create your art while creating a bond with other female artists. Just last month, I flew from Los Angeles to New York to work with an actress and an aerial artist, and we have their videos coming out next month!

That brings me to say, that I’ve found my passion in creating this platform, and I am most proud of the fact of bringing women together to create what makes them feel most alive, but also inspiring not only artists but people, in general, to go after their dreams – because anything is possible.

What sets Vagabond et Virtuosa and Mary’s Spell Shop apart from others, is that we graciously give female artists the opportunity to express themselves with their own voice and vision, without having to answer to anyone. It’s a personal experience to live the masterpiece, you are able independently to create.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have my parents Dan and Peggy rooting for me since day one. They have given me endless support and guidance in achieving my dreams, and continue to find and strategize ways to help me get to where I want to be, faster.

Growing up, they allowed me to make my own decisions to discover myself, provided me with opportunities that opened my mind to the world, and made sure to sit me down to talk about what was right and wrong. From a young age, they expressed to me to love deeply, show respect and kindness to all, and to do everything with integrity, responsibility, and leadership.

Each and every day, they make me a better person, and I can only hope to make them proud.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photographer: Mary Strause

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