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Member Highlight: Marie Mae Company

By Common Desk - November 13th, 2019

The glorious purpose of coworking is that it brings together professionals of all kinds to share the same resources and ideas as one community–allowing them to collectively do what they all do best in their various disciplines, fields, and seasons of business from under the same roof. One thing we know for sure is that Common Desk would be nothing without the hard-working, game-changing members that comprise our community. Our members are doing amazing things across Texas and the globe, and they each have an amazing story to be told.

In this month’s Member Highlight, we’re excited to introduce you to a company that’s near and dear to our hearts. We’ve gotten to watch it grow from a crazy dream to a crazy-successful reality over the past 5 years, and we couldn’t be more proud of all that Marie Mae has become.

A little background on Marie Mae and how it all began.

After spending a decade advising Fortune 100 clients on how to conduct and facilitate responsible investment in Africa, Marie Mae founder, Jillian Ryan, wanted to do more to support entrepreneurs in these emerging markets. Blending Jillian’s business expertise with her penchant for fine paper products, Marie Mae became her vehicle for making a difference in the world.

In addition to all of Marie Mae’s products being ethically sourced, they also provide an hour of business training for women and artisans all over the world for every gift purchased.

In the process of launching Marie Mae, Jillian realized starting a business involves far more than the theories she’d previously learned in business school. This led Jillian to create the Marie Mae Business School, which focuses on providing practical business training taught by people who have started businesses themselves. 

Marie Mae is so much more than just a simple “give back” company. From their vendors to their customers and clients, to the people in their business school, Marie Mae equips each of their stakeholders to make a sustainable impact through business. 

Now, without further ado, get to know the Founder of Marie Mae, Jillian Ryan!

Who are you in 5 words?

Determined, passionate, slightly stubborn, honest, and competitive.

Tell us about your business!

We produce corporate gifts and elevated office essentials that give back.

Why Common Desk?

The staff and community. They have worked so hard to build was the biggest differentiator over other coworking spaces.


How has coworking changed your business?

Coworking helped get me back in a professional setting that helped to provide me with the self-confidence I needed again to dream big and go after big corporate sales.

Tips for others looking to do what you do?

Pure perseverance.

What is your top bucket list item?

To see the great migration in Tanzania.

Favorite thing about what you do?

Every day is different, and seeing the faces of the women we work with in our business school classes when they start to feel empowered.

What sets you apart?

Our high quality and ethical supply chain, as well as our give back. For every gift purchased, we provide an hour of business training for women around the world.

What’s something you’re excited about right now?

We’ve got some amazing projects that will be released in December that we can’t wait to tell everyone about!

Tell us a random fun fact about you.

I moved to DC at the age of 21 not knowing anyone –and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

All-time favorite quote?

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with dust and sweat; who strives valiantly, who errs and may fall again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Marie Mae is making an impact across the globe, and we hope you feel inspired by their mission as much as we do!

With Christmas right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start finding gifts for your friends, family, and coworkers! Get your loved ones something thoughtful, purposeful, and meaningful by shopping at Marie Mae this year! To check out more of their stunning paper goods click here.

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Common Desk isn’t just a coworking space; it’s a tight-knit community of game-changers, difference-makers, and global influencers.
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