Alumni Profile: Mariah Gentry ‘09

Alumni Profile: Mariah Gentry ‘09

Below is one in a series of interviews that profiles our alumni experiences and successes in college and life. This article includes an interview with Mariah Gentry ‘09.

What college or university did you attend after SAAS (or what did you pursue instead?) What did you major in? Did you get other degrees?

After graduating from Seattle Academy, I attended the University of Washington and participated in the honors program. I graduated from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business with a focus in Entrepreneurship.

What unique experiences have you had since leaving SAAS? Trips, internships, jobs, etc.

For the last 8 years, I have been building my wedding photography business and brand. It was my bread and butter throughout college, but it’s my passion now that I have graduated. I love working with people, capturing their relationships, and freezing a beautiful moment in time. I have poured my heart, soul, and spare time into capturing the life events of strangers who quickly become close friends. I typically do 2-3 weddings per weekend throughout the spring and summer months. I love learning about wedding customs and traditions that are unique to each community. Every wedding is an adventure!

While studying at the University of Washington, my business partner and I launched JoeyBra, Inc. We wanted to create a product that would allow women to feel safer while running and traveling. Using a variety of development techniques, we crafted a sports bra that features two secret pockets – perfect for discretely hiding your valuables. We launched the business in 2012 through the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition. Within a few days of launching, Forbes and a variety of other major news networks featured the product. Building JoeyBra, Inc. was an incredible learning experience. Whether it was diving into the world of manufacturing, filing for our first patents, or learning about the logistics of product fulfillment, there was never a dull moment. I learned so much from the whole process. We are now at the stage where we are hoping to sell the IP for future growth and development.

I really enjoy working with students who have an interest in entrepreneurship, and I take time each quarter to teach a class at the University of Washington or mentor a group of students in the Creating a Company Course. I have particularly loved working with young women who see themselves starting their own business or developing an entrepreneurial mindset.

I recently took a fabulous trip to Japan as an experiment with working remotely. I am intrigued by the idea of working aboard, and this was my first time dipping my toes into the idea of working while traveling. While it wasn’t conventional, each day, I woke up at 4am and worked until about 10am or 11am. After finishing the bulk of my work for the day, I toured Tokyo and Kyoto, along with a few rural towns. It was amazing to see some of the architectural feats that were accomplished in the ancient temples and sacred parts of Japan. While it was absolutely exhausting to do two days of life in one day, it opened my eyes to the possibility of traveling aboard in the future. I could definitely see myself doing more remote work and potentially destination weddings while traveling the world.

What are your favorite memories from SAAS? What programs, teams, extracurriculars were you involved in while at SAAS? Who were your most influential teachers at SAAS?

I really enjoyed my time at SAAS because it taught me to appreciate my creative side while learning the benefits of hard work. The classes were rigorous and the expectations were high, but the whole experience helped me prepare for both college and the real world.

My favorite memories from SAAS involve the teachers and fellow students. I was involved in quite a few of the SAAS programs. From dance to science, I loved it all. I really enjoyed my science classes with Kelly McKittrick, where we learned all about life from its earliest stages. She instilled so much wisdom about life in general. Classes with Dexter Chapin were simply an adventure – from the world of biology to the stories of his exciting past, every moment was an opportunity to learn about the world. Art classes with April opened my eyes to creativity and serenity – there was something magical about painting and creating in her art room. It was like an oasis.

I was always shy; however, Michael Cimino had a way of bringing everyone together and getting us to step outside of our shells. He taught me so much about presenting and using acting as a means for stepping around my shyness. Rob Phillips and Joe Puggelli taught me to always fight for what is right and to stand up for myself. I have used many of these valuable lessons since high school for negotiations and presentations.

Where are you now and what do you do? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How did SAAS help prepare you for your job today?

On the weekends you will find me photographing weddings throughout the Pacific Northwest. During the week I do website design and business consulting. I have really enjoyed combining my creativity with business, and I think that SAAS did a fantastic job igniting my ability to create solutions and look at issues from a different perspective.

In my free time, I spend a fair amount of time hiking and exploring the islands. I particularly love Vashon Island for its scenic hikes, amazing food, and wonderful people. I really enjoy seeing new places, so I predict that I will be traveling again quite a bit next year.

In 10 years, I expect to be still saying yes to opportunities and seeing where my life takes me. There are so many aspects of my life that I would have never even imagined 10 years ago.