Meet Maria in our Revamped Spring 2021 Catalog

03/10/2021
By Savannah Seydel
Community . Company News

It’s March—spring is just around the corner—and in celebration of International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month, we’re so excited to announce our revamped interactive Better Earth Spring 2021 Catalog featuring an interview with Maria Azarraga, Better Earth’s Brand & Marketing Manager!

Maria Azarraga, Better Earth Brand & Marketing Manager

What brought you to Better Earth? 

I joined Better Earth because I saw the opportunity to use my passion for design to have a positive impact on the environment. In so doing, I’ve been able to grow my skills in web design and marketing and support our custom print customers in developing their own packaging design strategy. 

I started as a graphic designer at Better Earth for custom print packaging design and sales collateral in 2017. I am now the Brand and Marketing Manager and love that every day, I’m learning something new and get to collaborate with a vibrant diverse team pushing boundaries innovating sustainable packaging solutions.   

Staying peaceful near running water at Asheville Botanical Gardens

Tell me something you love about working at Better Earth? 

After moving to the United States from the Philippines, I grew up in a small southern town with little to no exposure to recycling or composting. I love Better Earth’s learning culture and emphasis on sustainability as a journey, not a destination. While working at Better Earth, I’ve learned so much about sustainability from our team, customers, and partners like Captain Planet Foundation (omg and such a fangirl moment working with them after watching Captain Planet as a kid!). I feel so empowered to share what I’ve learned with our surrounding communities. 

Every day is different at Better Earth. I am thankful to be in a workplace where I get to tackle so many different challenges, all while knowing that our creative work is having a direct impact on our environment and health. 

Atlanta photographer Erik Voss capturing Maria’s team portrait

Don’t let Maria fool you – she may have a soft demeanor but can kick your butt! Maria, tell us more about what got you into kickboxing? 

(laughs) I have never been into anything active aside from being a marching band nerd back in the day. A while back, I was listening to a podcast and a statement stuck out to me: “I don’t mentor entrepreneurs unless they’re in the healthiest shape of their life.” Then I came across an ad for my local MMA gym less than a mile from my apartment at the time, offering a free trial fitness and nutrition program. I’d hit a low point where I was out of shape, lacked energy, and overall, not very happy with myself. I gave kickboxing a chance, and never looked back.   

Kickboxing is my solace, stress-relief, and therapy with an added benefit of self-defense. I can de-stress and mentally check out while my coach barks orders and combos at me for bag work. But I am also mentally and physically engaged when we enter sparring. I see kickboxing as a fun challenge for staying present and practicing so many skills that relay so directly to other areas of my life, such as self-discipline, form and strategic offense and defense. 

Jake Lichtman, Print Division Manager training Maria on operating the forklift safely (pre-pandemic!). We love to roll our sleeves up around here!

You drive Better Earth’s brand strategy, creative department and in-house design services for our customers. What role do you feel brand and design plays in modern packaging?  

There is so much value in the attention businesses can derive from their packaging’s color, sustainability profile, layout, logo or even texture. In fact, we take part in these strategic decisions everyday. 

Think of when you’re in the wine aisle—how do you choose a bottle? For me, I find all the choices overwhelming (chuckle) so I often choose based on what packaging intrigues me most.  Design allows brands to have a big first impression with a potential buyer without ever physically being in the room. 

Look around you—everything has been intentionally designed and made by someone! It’s phenomenal how brand and design gives us the magical ability to let a product speak for itself and create something truly unique out of nothing. 

Enjoying the beautiful island waters of El Nido, Palawan, Philippines

You chose pandesal as your featured recipe in our new catalog. What significance does this dish have for you? 

People who LOVE food are always my favorite kinds of people and that includes Better Earth’s diverse team!   

As an immigrated southern Filipina-American, I hold dear memories of all the delicious Filipino food from my childhood. One of them is our fresh Filipino breakfast bread called “pandesal.” I remember waking to roosters crow every morning & walking down the block to our neighbor’s house with my Nanay to buy freshly baked pandesal—it’s very typical for families to run “sari sari” stores attached to their homes in the Philippines.   

I love experimenting in the kitchen and integrating foods and flavors from different cultures. In the Philippines, there is so much historical influence behind our palate of salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. As an ode to my hybrid identity, I have come up with a sweet and savory take on the traditional pandesal with avocado pandesal toast! Ube is my favorite flavor and I was ecstatic when Pare Baked Goods in Atlanta offered pandesal in ube as well as pandan flavors. It’s a must try, even with just a simple spread of ensaymada butter.    

I’m so, so excited that Filipino food is gaining traction in Atlanta, GA and am grateful for the growing Filipino community driving these efforts! 

 

At Better Earth, we are committed to ensuring our team represents the customers we serve, and we’re proud that over three-quarters of Better Earth’s corporate team are women or people from underrepresented populations. Stay tuned as we continue to celebrate Better Earth’s women throughout March in honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

Savannah Seydel

Savannah Seydel

Vice President of Sustainability and Impact

I am excited to spend my time thinking about how Better Earth can reduce our environmental impact and serve as a catalyst for change within our community and industry.

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