Q&A with Mary DeArment ’83
Owner & Designer, Mary DeArment Word Art
Briefly describe your career (what you do, where you do it, why you do it).
My first career as an elementary teacher and my second as a dance therapist did not directly lay the groundwork for my third career as an artist entrepreneur but all share the common thread of creative endeavor to promote meaningful interaction. I am a designer of word art—every design is made with a word, phrase or acronym. My brand of luxury scarves is one aspect of my business; I also make custom designs for corporate and family gifts including but not limited to scarves; I license designs for use in brand promotion, packaging, and décor. My commitment to positive change and community involvement have led to collaboration with nonprofits such as the National Women’s History Museum. I engage with social issues by posting designs on social media; i.e. Gender Equality, S.T.E.M., Peace, United, Safe, and World Citizen.
As a Sarasota based artist I allow the fresh beach air to inspire me, but my business is primarily online. In this age of technology I am able to work with clients all over the world.
My initial sketches are done by hand—in a cafe, on a plane, or in a park. I render the designs in Illustrator to add color and adapt for production. Designs are available on a range of scarves, apparel, home goods, and tech accessories.
I am insatiably creative, constantly designing and thinking deeply about what matters to me and the world, so that my word choices are meaningful and personal. FAMILY, DANCE, HUMOR, THE ARTS, TRUST and THINK are some of my favorites. After a crippling car accident in 1999 drawing replaced dance as my main creative outlet. (I still dance avocationally with limitations.)
What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?
My biggest professional accomplishment is becoming an entrepreneur. Without a formal background in business, marketing or art, I took a leap of faith. The design part was easy and fun to develop; I am a prolific and fast designer so I meet every design challenge with confidence. All the rest of the skill sets necessary to run a business were new; I have the maturity to know what I know and don’t know so I am very receptive to advice and consultation. In other words, I am very teachable.
What has been your biggest personal accomplishment?
My biggest personal accomplishment has been raising my two children, mostly on my own. They have taught me, humbled me and enriched me as no other endeavor. My 22 year old daughter is making her way, aiming to finish college after satisfying a bit of wanderlust: I approve! My 21 year old son is at University of Alabama, double majoring in Advertising and Economics. Both are flourishing, smart, creative and compassionate.
How did Goucher prepare you for your career?
Goucher prepared me for my career—indeed all three of my careers—by supporting the values, sharing the messages and encouraging the identity which my family had first defined. Values: make the world a better place; use your mind; be compassionate; be flexible. Messages: you can do anything you set your mind to; you are a problem-solver; you are creative. Identity: you are professional, educated, and literate. My confidence, analytical nature, flexibility, and social conscience are a direct result of these influences.
What is your most vivid Goucher memory?
My most vivid Goucher memory is when a dance teacher asked me if I was considering majoring in Dance. I had never danced in my life before college and I was seriously intimidated by my classmates with extensions to their ears and fifteen years of technique under their belts. Besides, I had attended college with the clear goal of graduating with a degree that would enable me to make a living and be independent. Although I never considered majoring in dance, the profound validation of that teacher’s question has been an encouragement to me for the last forty years. I am grateful she believed in me and said so.
How do you stay connected to the college?
I have not stayed connected to Goucher. When I attended it was a women’s college; that all female environment was dear to me. When the college became co-ed I felt like the Goucher I knew was gone. Once I graduated I never had occasion to visit Baltimore. I lost touch with my Goucher friends until recently when I re-established contact with Debbie Reisman and Laura Preiser.
Check out Mary’s work at scarvesbymarydearment.com