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In Search of Excellence ~ Cynthia Maniglia
by Liz Fretz
Cynthia Maniglia ~ Advertising Executive and Sole Proprietor of Handmade Greeting Card Business

Please introduce yourself: Hi! My name is Cynthia Maniglia. I have a Master's degree in English Literature, have traveled extensively, and work from home as a creative resource for advertising agencies. I've been in advertising for over 15 years, and worked my way up from "copy cub" to Vice President and Creative Director. I also am sole proprietor of a handmade card business.

Tell us about your business. I make exquisite one-of-a-kind handmade cards that are sold on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. I've been making the cards for about a year, and only started selling them wholesale to the store in California in August of 2000.

How did you get started in this business? I received a handmade card from my fiance's sister, which I loved. She and I are somewhat competitive with crafting, and what we like to exchange gifts we make. She'll make something for me in a certain vein or theme, and then I'm make something along the same lines to give to her. We live in different states, so it's a nice way of connecting. Anyway, I made some very unique cards that were inspired by a children's book I was trying to write at the time, and then I decided to make thank-you cards to give my dearest of friends and family following the holidays. One of my friends is a co-host on Our Place, a Home and Garden channel show, and she commissioned me to make her a batch, which I was more than happy to do for her. After she gave most of the cards away, she asked me to make more for her, which I did. Then, on a trip with my brother to California, I happened to stop in a shop which carried handmade cards, and I decided then and there to see if I could become one of their suppliers.

What was your greatest career challenge and how did you over come it? In my handmade card business, my challenges are not very large ones - yet. It is something I completely enjoy and look forward to doing for some time.

With my career in advertising, however, I've been faced with many, many challenges. The greatest challenge was in learning my craft and honing my skills. That took much hard work and persistence. Time was one of my greatest helpers - because it was only with time that I was able to become very good at what I did. There were also many role models and people from whom I learned a lot. The second challenge I was faced with in my advertising career was in the "office politics" arena. It was in that arena that I had to learn how to assert myself and get what I wanted and needed to move forward in my advertising career.

Do you work out of your house? What challenges do you face working at home and how do you deal with them? I've been working out of my home (and "on the road") exclusively for nearly a year and a half. My major challenges have been in converting my living space into an office. For quite some time, I've managed to function from very cramped - although very well equipped - quarters. I've also managed to function to the best of my ability in a "mobile" mode - on the road. In fact, this upcoming Monday and Tuesday, I'll be working from my fiance's parents' home in Massachusetts. However, I am moving and will be able to enjoy a larger work space, and I can't wait! It will be very liberating and help me continue to do my very best.

What sets you apart from your competitors? In the advertising field, my years of experience working with some of the industry's best in the area and within my specialty have given me a decided edge. My ability to be flexible and change as needed have also helped me immensely. I think I'm very aware of what the trends are and what's happening in the world around me (I've very observant), and that helps me move around in the world.

In the card making business, originality and positive thinking have helped me achieve my current level of success. There has been a great element of serendipity involved, too. What I offer is something you cannot find anywhere else - each card is a unique work of art. Each card involves an element of serendipity in how it comes to be on my worktable. Because I love what I do, I believe you can see my unique personality - my mark - in each card.

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What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? I am most proud that my work appears in one of the most exclusive shopping locations in the world. I am equally proud that I've achieved status and freedom in the corporate world for outstanding work.

Are there any books, classes, or other sources of education that you found helpful when you were starting up? Too numerous to mention here.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting up, what would it be? Believe in yourself. The power of positive thinking is incredible. As cliched as it sounds, it's so true. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones will help you think the way you need to think to succeed. Most important, do your very best. Compete with the best and when you've beaten them, compete with yourself. Have high standards that you aspire to, and don't settle for less than your very best. Persistence is important, too. The only way to master the path is to walk it over and over again. When you have mastered the path, you will know your way.

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