Meet Maria Erazo: Entrepreneur, business woman, author, motivational specialist…and the new Face of Siegel Jewelers. Maria’s story is remarkable and in many ways is similar to story of Joseph Siegel, the founder of Siegel Jewelers.
“I have fallen in love with the history of the family and the legacy that it inspires,” said Maria.
Maria was born in Michoacan, Mexico. She came to the United States when she was 15 years old, hoping to be reunited with her parents who had moved to the U.S. earlier. She came to be settled in the Grand Rapids area with relatives she had never met.
Joseph Siegel came to America from Russia at the age of 17. He worked as a clock and watchmaker and opened the first Siegel store in 1889. Both Maria and Joseph experienced the struggles of living in a foreign country with a limited ability to speak English. Both used hard work and perseverance to build successful careers.
Maria is a highly motivated young woman who is the founder of The ME Marketing Agency. She works to help entrepreneurs develop their own brand, based on their personal story. Utilizing digital marketing and social media, Maria leads business owners through training in personal development and sound business structuring. On top of her marketing agency, Maria is the founder of the Farmers Insurance Agency, located at 2435 Eastern Avenue, boasting more than 15 years in the insurance industry. She has also authored two books.
So, how exactly did this highly successful young woman become associated with Siegel Jewelers?
Maria will be the first to admit, she didn’t know Siegel’s existed two years ago. It was by the very social media that she utilizes every day that Maria came upon a contest looking for someone who would represent Siegel Jewelers at community events, in-store, and through the media. The winner would receive $200/month in jewelry allowance and the ability to borrow jewelry for events, photo shoots, and advertisements. Maria saw it as the perfect opportunity not only to promote the store, but also to reach out to the Hispanic community.
The Face of Siegel Jewelers was the inspiration of Amanda Gilbert, who works marketing and community outreach for Siegel’s. “Siegel Jewelers has been in Grand Rapids for 127 years,” explained Amanda. “Community relations and involvement are very important to Siegel’s.”
“We needed to modernize our outreach,” Amanda confided. “Facebook, Instagram, and other social media were the perfect path.”
As a model herself, Amanda had many contacts in the modeling and photography world. After the first contest post was made on the Siegel Jeweler’s Facebook page, they had over 100 applicants within 24 hours. “The response was amazing!” Amanda shared.
Finding a “local” face was important, as was the contestant’s commitment to the community.
Out of all the applicants, twenty were chosen to move on to the next round of the contest. After the official contest photos were taken, they were each tasked with getting as many “likes” and “shares” on Facebook as possible. After a long process of photo shoots and interviews, plus the Facebook outreach, a panel of judges (2 representatives from Siegel Jewelers and 3 members at large from the Grand Rapids community) named the top 3 candidates. Maria Erazo was ultimately chosen as the Face of Siegel Jewelers for 2016. Two other models, Liv Jackson and Jenna Coller, were also chosen to represent Siegel Jewelers in photo sessions this year.
“I see this as an opportunity to bring people in the community together,” stated Maria when asked what being the Face of Siegel Jewelers mean to her. “I would like to be an inspiration to young women, I want them to see that opportunities surround them every day.”
For Maria, empowering young women, especially minorities, is her motivating factor. Her early life story and the struggles she has faced are contained in a book she wrote entitled, En Busca de Mi Padre (In Search of My Father).
“I am honored that Siegel has given me this opportunity,” said Maria, “It gives me the chance to reach out and bring us all together.”
Always looking forward, Maria shared that she would love the opportunity to mentor the women who become the Face of Siegel Jewelers in the future. “I am the first!” she laughed.
Keep your eyes out at community events for Maria Erazo. She will be the outgoing, beautiful lady who is always looking to help others believe in themselves. Oh, and she will be showcasing some of the most gorgeous jewelry Grand Rapids has to offer!
Kathy is a long-time employee with Spectrum Health. She has been married for 28 years to her wonderful husband, Duke. Together they have 2 children, Emily and Daniel. In her free time she enjoys volunteering with the Casting Bread Mobile Food Pantry at Kentwood Christian Church, making sandwiches at Kids Food Basket, and leading Ladies Bible Study on Thursday nights. Writing has been her passion since elementary school and she loves to write about how others enjoy what they are passionate about!