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University of Maine at Orono

Em Robertson Makes her Mark with Mprint

Owner and Designer of Mprint, Em Robertson
Modeling the Mprint Honolulu Transit Pendant

New York City, Boston, California, Canada and Presque Isle are some of the places this week’s Monday Maine Maven has called home. Em Robertson is the owner and designer of Mprint jewelry, a Maine-based accessories company.

Robertson says her love for the world of design and fashion was cultivated at a young age. She says, “My mother was a retail fashion buyer and would tell me about her buying trips in New York City. That really opened the doors to the business side of the fashion industry to me.”

The Presque Isle native says that she is “extremely proud” that she grew up a country girl adding, “I think it is one of the main reasons I am so driven and hard-working. Yes, it is really far up north, freezing, and it isn’t filled with endless things to do, but it is a great community that is full of hard-working and supportive people.”

Em’s parents wanted their children to experience different cultures, so Em and her family would travel four to five times a year—trips that she credits for her development of “the travel itch” at a very young age.

However, when it came to making a career choice for herself, Em wasn’t quite sure that fashion was the perfect fit. She stayed local, attending the University of Maine at Orono to study business marketing. During her junior year, she interned in New York City with Macy’s corporate marketing division and she says, “It confirmed the idea that I wanted to continue my education in fashion.”

After graduating, Em spent her summer applying to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and moved to Los Angeles. She says, “I felt like it was a place I needed to conquer. Being involved in such a creative culture and community of talented people made the transition much easier.”

Robertson says, “I had a lot of learning experiences in Hollywood,” but ultimately, she decided to move back to Maine to launch her jewelry collection.

Just a sampling of the jewelry you can find at www.mprintjewelry.com

The launch of Mprint has been incredibly successful on local, national and international levels, with her jewelry being featured in online stores, magazines and various noteworthy fashion blogs. One of her necklaces even made an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America worn by correspondent Rachel Smith.

The success of the launch is credited to Em’s strong public relations background and the use of social media. She says, “I wrote everyone I knew to start spreading the word and tried to get as much information and product to top editors, stylists and boutique owners to build awareness of the brand.” She adds, “I think Facebook creates an unreal buzz for designers—people can express to their peers what they like, and it opens doors for other people to like the product. The accessibility to this kind of online marketing for a start-up company like Mprint is beyond beneficial.”

According to Em, social media, Instagram in particular, is a great tool for inspiration, too. Em says, “I definitely draw inspiration for my collection pieces by immersing myself in social media sites, but my go-to is Instagram. Maybe it’s because I’m a creative person, but I just feel like seeing an image speaks so much louder than words.” Other sources that inspire are local consignment shops, family heirlooms, street style and nature.

Em Robertson says that social media serves as a vital part of her branding strategy for Mprint.

What’s next for Mprint? Em says, “I’m constantly thinking about ways to expand Mprint, and to grow as a socially responsible brand.” This is why they will be introducing a new hair accessories collaboration in their Fall ’13 collection with a design-driven nonprofit social enterprise that supports women-owned businesses in Rwanda.

You will also find them at one of the world’s largest and most vibrant marketplace tradeshows, AccessoriesTheShow, in New York City next month.

To learn more about Em and Mprint you may check out her website, www.mprintjewelry.com, like them on Facebook, facebook.com/Mprintjewelry or follow @Mprintjewelry on Twitter.

Social Media and Kids

KVYMCA Program Coordinator and Camp Director, Johanna King

The never ending debate on how old is old enough to participate in social media can be tricky, especially since it is now readily available to people of all ages, children in particular. This week’s Monday Maine Maven, KVYMCA program coordinator and Camp KV director, Johanna King, is well aware of the pressure and bullying that can be found on social media sites, but she believes many concerns can be resolved with open communication, education on social media etiquette and programs that instill positive self-esteem.

King has been working with children for a very long time. She started coaching soccer camps in high school, volunteered at her church’s summer Bible school and did a lot of babysitting. Since graduating from the University of Maine at Orono, she has worked part-time at Indian Elementary School as a tutor and, after receiving her ACE certification as a group exercise instructor, she landed a job working for the KVYMCA as their program coordinator and camp director.

Johanna gives a high-five to a camper last summer.

This role has been a perfect fit. Johanna says, “I went to so many camps growing up and have wonderful memories of camp. It is great to be on the other side of the experience and be able to help create those same great memories for kids today.” A part of this experience is using social media to share these memories with the parents of summer campers.

Johanna King has a firm grasp on social media needs for organizations like the KVYMCA. King adds, “People don’t want to sit down and read a long brochure, they want their information to be more succinct using images and less text; they want information from sites they’re already using such as Facebook and Twitter.” Johanna says that is why social media awareness is so important for not only children, but for communities as well. The information received is the information that is given, and so much of that information is found through the daily use of social media.

That is why King says, “This year, my goal is to update the YMCA Facebook page with a picture and short description each day for the parents to check out while they are at work or at home to see what their children are up to throughout the day.” Facebook and other social media sites are increasing awareness of the KVYMCA and their programs, but one new program is particularly popular due the Olympian namesake that hosts the session.

Johanna with Learning Center Director, Ranae L’Italien and Olympian, Julia Clukey during a recent camp program planning session.

That Olympian would be Julia Clukey. Johanna says, “Social media definitely plays a part in the need for programs like Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls. It is incredibly important to teach kids that their self-worth isn’t correlated to how many Facebook friends they have or how many people have liked their status updates.”

During a recent planning meeting with Clukey and the KV Camp team, they were able to establish the curriculum of this summer’s program. The camp will feature themes such as “Be Healthy,” “Be Your Best,” and “Be Caring.” Kings says, “We received wonderful feedback from parents of Clukey campers and we know that we will be having a lot of repeat campers, so it is important that we present the information in a way that is new to the girls that attended last year.” Programs such as Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls help promote positive reflections of oneself, resulting in confident young women.

To learn more about the summer programs offered by the KVYMCA and to connect with Johanna, you may email her at johanna@kvymca.org.