Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions?
My name is Maritza Hamill, but people call me Ritz. I am a mother of four and I grew up in a border town ten minutes from Mexico. I always knew I would be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t know how it was going to happen.
My passion is to create. ANYTHING! It’s always been my escape, my desire since I could remember. I was always a child of creation. Inventing new ways of doing things, drawing or building or making up games or writing music. I always have notepads full of good, as well as dumb ideas. Time weeds out the bad from the good.
You have an incredible story; can you discuss the circumstances that led to your career and some challenges you have overcome?
I don’t think my story’s that incredible, I think there are many who grew up just like me.
More have gone through worse than me and have also come out great. It really depends on your inner drive.
I grew up in a one-bedroom trailer that had rats and huge holes that let cold air in, but I never felt poor. No way. I would have laughed if anyone said that. Just because of income? I had a roof over my head. I always had food, warm clothes, and toys and great grandparents who helped a lot. It was around 4th grade when my mother was finally able to afford a decent home and that’s when my imagination flourished. She worked hard to raise me and my three brothers. My father was unfortunately murdered ten days before my first birthday so I never knew him.
I moved out and was married very young at the age of 20 and had my first child right at 21. My grandma was the one to push me to finish college and earn my bachelors in Business while I was pregnant with my second. I gave birth mid semester, went back a week later and finished it off. Graduating that spring. I am still the only one in my family to graduate college. Though the pay wasn’t great, it opened a lot of doors for me.
I wish I could say it got easy after that, but horrible decisions soon followed including lots of bad luck. I was in multiple car wrecks with people who had no insurance. Our home got broken into and all my photography equipment was stolen including computers right before a major project was due. My wedding rings, jewelry, guns and even clothing were taken. Then my four-year-old son fell from our two-story house and landed on his back. It seem there was no end in sight including a bad business deal from supposed trusted individuals that really put a strain on everything.
Our family had to stop and look at what was important in life. We knew right away what the answer was. There were days we didn’t know where our next meal would come from so we had to find a way to make it work.
Selling my photography really helped make ends meet for years. There were lots of sponsors out there who really liked my work and used it for advertising. I never spoke a word about my family’s situation. I never told them that not signing meant not having gas money. I hate the pity card. When I was told no, I would just shake their hand and thank them for their time, and go cry in my car. Selling my work never came easy, I didn’t wait for people to come to me, I went to them. You can’t expect business to just show up at your front door. Or those donation sites to magically fill up with cash. It doesn’t work that way. My husband and I both worked endlessly to make sure our kids never felt in need. I hasn’t and till this day still isn’t easy.
You’re quite the multifaceted lady. Not only are you a mom which I believe is the hardest job in the world but you’re also a photographer, an advertiser and a beauty expert. Can you share tips on how to manage multiple passions?
Write a to do list of what needs to get accomplished. Whether it is to pick up your child from cheerleading, shoot a commercial, visit a client, or get milk. Just write it down. You’ll accomplish a lot and whatever is left you will know you can do the next day. Pencil in things on a small calendar. Scratch them off as you get them done. When you look back, you’ll see how much you can do, and a pencil means you can change plans anytime.
By creating a work budget, you spend no more than you need to. I grew up with a limited finances so I used my creativity to play and make toys as a child, be fashionable as a young adult, and create projects for my business with little to no working budget. I still bargain hunt today. I’m not too big to outlet or vintage shop.
I want to dive into your background more. Being a multicultural person myself I’m fascinated by culture in general. You’re Mexican and I’m curious to know if your background has helped you in any way.
I was born in the US, but my father’s side is from Monterrey Mexico. I am fluent in Spanish and English. Most people have no idea I can even speak Spanish. My mom worked her butt off and that’s all I ever knew. If you wanted something, you worked for it.
After college, I wasn’t getting hired anywhere. Everyone wanted someone “with experience.” I didn’t know anything though. So I decided to make it happen. I convinced the Dodge Arena, a concert, hockey, football and basketball venue that I needed experience in the Marketing department. Soon after they opened up the first ever internship to me. I wanted the knowledge even if I wasn’t getting a paycheck. I ended up getting hired as a corporate sales manager soon after for their hockey team and learned all the tricks of the trade. Sales became my way to pay for my creative adventures in business. Because soon after I was let go and my first business was born. I learned more in my short time at that job than I did in my entire college life. I felt like I never paid for things I could trade out including food, gym memberships, concert tickets, fancy dinners, clothes, jewelry you name it. Being able to speak two languages helped me immensely.
If you could solve a world problem what would it be?
I wish for peace and for the Latin countries. For mothers to be able to sleep comfortably without worrying that their children may be taken from them for drug wars. I wish a safe haven for those refuges that have escaped. A world where they can speak to their families easily and maybe be reunited again one day. Not being able to ever visit my family in Monterrey breaks my heart.
What ways can Millennials use digital media to build platforms and tell their stories?
Digital media is quick. It can go viral in a matter of minutes. It’s also easy to link to other sites so the story can be shared. Digital media has replaced much of print for now, but one day it will be the only way to communicate. It’s the reason my business did so well and it doesn’t cost anything, which is the biggest perk.
What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
Trust, by verify. Ronald Reagan
Even after all that I have experienced, I have found ways to forgive those who hurt me or my family. Just know that you need to research everything. Don’t go by anyone’s word. I will no longer ever trust those who made my life difficult, but I will not assume everyone that crosses my path has the same intentions. People can be mean and selfish, but there are many great individuals who truly are out to help you and lend a helping hand and not expect anything in return. Find them and treat them like gold. Those are also the type of people that will be there when everything crumbles.
Now at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
I truly enjoy encouraging people. We all have potential to be great. Life can be mean even when you’re not around to defend yourself. Family or friends or strangers can say things to make you feel less than worthy. I try to encourage instead of discourage people. We all go through tough times. We all have a story to tell. Id rather tell someone how to go about something to help them than what they are doing wrong. We all have tons of critics already. We don’t need to add to anyone’s misery.
Before we go I want to go back to your photography. Why does that influence you and what power do you feel images have in the world?
I became a photographer by complete accident. Although I always enjoyed taking pictures, I never considered myself more than another person with a camera. Then one day I had about 7 photoshoots lined up for the calendar I produced and the photographer I hired fell ill. He was placed in the hospital and I had to pick up the slack. Soon after he passed away. I couldn’t believe it. I was devastated, thinking how could I have been a better friend. Could I have helped somehow?
It wasn’t long after I began to practice hard. I didn’t realize how much I loved it I was just scared of the judgment, because I really did suck. I used all my sales experience and my marketing degree to get my pictures sold to businesses and the community. It didn’t come easy, I had to buy books and practice a lot. I struggled for years, and had a lot of hit or misses but I finally got comfortable. I’m finally at peace with my work. I know it can still grow though. Right now I am only posting old work on CyberDust. As the new work begins soon, CyberDust will be the first to view it. I have many wonderful dusters I speak to. I cant answer everyone, but I ALWAYS read everyone’s works or encouragement. It means a lot to me.
Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?
At the moment only CyberDust is getting my updated project details and behind the scenes. I’ve decided I want to focus solely on finishing my big Art/Book project. I am currently only taking business clients for income while I finish my exciting adventure. CyberDust has made it fun and easy for me to show my old work and get lots of feedback as well as given me a number of exciting people from all over the world to interact with. It truly is the wave of the future.