April 24, 2018
Creativity and youthful idealism are the driving forces behind 16-year-old Maya Aristimuno’s many successful career pursuits. With the experience she is gaining through the Parsons Academy Certificate Program, Maya is working toward building her portfolio and upping her confidence to take on the future of creative entrepreneurship.
Maya’s first business venture that sparked her initial interest in entrepreneurship started in the second grade when making bracelets with friends out of her bedroom using any materials she could find. From sixth to seventh grade, she found her target audience amongst peers and began designing and selling custom, handmade smartphone cases that were in high demand.
At 15 and beginning to orient herself as an individual, Maya began to move toward her next business venture after wanting to further explore her newfound love for photography. She recalls sitting in algebra class when she received the news that her first photo was being published in Vogue. She snuck out to celebrate with her best friend in the middle of her gym class.
It was also around this time that she began taking pre-college classes at Parsons. She first discovered the certificate program for grades 9-12 when she was in the eighth grade, and immediately began counting down the days until she was old enough to enroll. She explains, “I had craved something more intense and in-depth to further my art education. I was just looking at art schools in the NYC area and came across Parsons Academy. I was super excited that there was a program available for someone like me who had a deep interest in the arts and needed more than just what the local school could offer.”
The opportunities presented to Maya by the program so far have helped her pave the way to beginning her own company, MARISTI, a creative marketing agency that provides content packages for big-name clients such as Refinery29, Cynthia Rowley, and multiple others.
Through her company, Maya partners with influencers to create photo and video packages that highlight their brand or products. She takes the reins and manages, shoots, directs, and plans each initiative.
She says, “MARISTI means originator, change, and creation. I wanted to create a new type of marketing agency that focused on a younger generation. I wanted to produce content for cool people and brands - for those that were just starting out and didn’t have the access to larger ad agencies. When I started it was for an exercise in exploring new mediums, new and upcoming brands, and a chance to bring artists, models, products, and young people together.”
Maya is an influencer herself as she employs young adults under the age of 21 to work as part of her in-house creative team. Her entrepreneurial goals are driven by a selfless and driven attitude that seems to be more and more prominent in the younger generation.
In addition to running MARISTI, Maya is also the creator of MIM Magazine, a print magazine that fosters young artists’ growth by giving them opportunities to have their images and editorial work published. MIM Magazine also has a separate online publication called RISE, publishing current events as documented by the youth in America.
“I think it’s important to describe how beneficial is it to have a platform to share strictly current events throughout America,” said Maya. “RISE was created to provide a platform for the youth of today to share their views on local, national and world events. Kids don’t always want to post their photos from the marches, talks, or events they attend on social media because of the fear of people’s negative opinions. RISE is a safe place to express your emotions and your political, social, religious views.”
Maya’s experiences so far have not only enabled her to inspire other young people, but also provide her with the opportunity to build up her own confidence and determination. The Parsons Academy Certificate Program also enhances these traits by giving her the right tools and teaching her the skills she needs to advance.
She explains, “By attending this program I get to foster a continuous sense of responsibility, passion, and determination. As I start the application process for colleges, I will not only have a strong portfolio, but I will have the maturity and a deeper understanding of the responsibilities that one needs to succeed in college.”
As for her next steps, Maya reveals no hesitations or plans for stopping anytime soon. She plans to enroll in Parsons School of Design so she can further pursue her education and expand her agency by studying either Strategic Design and Management or Integrated Design.
Maya offers advice for other young creatives that hope to work toward their dreams. She says, “Be fearless, bold, and always yourself. Your age doesn’t matter; just send that email already.”
Parsons Academy meets on Saturdays in the Fall and Spring and for two weeks during the Summer in August.
Written by Casey O'Connell.