On Creating Your Own Opportunities: Maria Darling

On Creating Your Own Opportunities: Maria Darling

Leading up to our Winter ‘19 iteration of WORK, we'll feature select interviews with some of our conference's speakers and thought leaders. In this interview, creative entrepreneur Maria Darling shares her thoughts on self-belief and creating anew. Click here for a look at Winter 2019’s conference schedule.


Maria Darling skipped college to be a homeless backpacker, hitchhiking her way across the US and Mexico several times. Once her thumb got tired she bought a 60' school bus, founded a nonprofit circus and moved to Mexico for a few years. Since returning home to Austin in 2011, she has started an event staffing company (austinoccasions.com), a mermaid production company (sirenalia.com), and most recently an art nail studio (cutenailstudio.com). She's got a three-year-old daughter and a son on the way, and she's married to the blindingly attractive guy who she had write this bio. In her spare time she watches cartoons and offers relationship advice to her friends and employees.

How would you describe yourself in three words? 

Determined, resilient and unconventional.

How do you approach concepts of "work-life balance?" Does that term mean anything to you? 

I try not to work after 5:00 or on Sundays.

How do you approach working with others?

I work super well with others as long as I respect them and we vibe.

What advice do you have for starting/switching career paths?

I never know what I'm doing. I just keep moving forward and try to learn from mistakes. Never quit, but know when to cut your losses.

Have you ever experienced a form of career uncertainty? If so, how did you overcome it?

I started my whole life over from scratch at 27. I walked away from my life and started over with nothing more than a small backpack. It was rough, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't cry and drink about it, but I had my own past accomplishments to remind me of what I was capable of and even though it was hard I remained goal-oriented and was on my feet in under a year. I'm unconventional and weird. I have rarely had the benefit of people believing in me or understanding my vision. So I've had to believe in myself. I've been incredibly lucky.

What makes you resilient? (Resilience is the ability to withstand tough conditions and recover when things are difficult.)

Being resilient is probably one of my best personal attributes. I am not afraid of failure. Failure is the best teacher. I tend to look on the bright side, but I'm also solution-oriented.   

About WORK: WORK is a biannual pop-up space, designed for sharing new ideas and approaches to creative and entrepreneurial work. The event's panels, workshops and speaker sessions explore personal and professional curiosity, storytelling, diversity and equality, business management and creative entrepreneurship. Our next conference pops up in July 2019 at Rowling Hall in Austin, Texas. ✨Click here for more information.

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