Mackayla Paul, 19
Founder and Social Media Specialist, Social Stylings
Mackayla Paul worked her butt off in high school to get the grades she needed to be accepted into her dream university course, but it was a small setback that ultimately led her to smashing even bigger goals.
“During high school, I focused my time on a Fashion and Beauty blog that I was obsessed with writing,” Mackayla, 19, said, “I learnt how to build wordpress.org websites and set up social media profiles, which eventually led to me finding my true passion for digital marketing.”
It wasn’t until Mackayla was submitting the enrolment forms for university that she discovered that due to being born in New Zealand, she wouldn’t qualify for HECS-HELP – a government loan system to help eligible Commonwealth supported students pay their tuition fess.
“That was definitely a real low-point for me. I didn’t realise that I wouldn’t be able to attend as I had applied to my dream university and had been accepted.”
Mackayla spent months applying for entry-level roles in marketing, but found it difficult to get noticed without having an industry qualification.
“That’s when I started working in Fashion, and learnt about the concept of being an ‘entrepreneur’,”
“I had never heard of that term before that first year out of high school, and something just clicked.” Mackayla said.
Mackayla launched digital marketing agency, Social Stylings just over a year ago after discovering the lack of agencies assisting the new and small-scale fashion and beauty labels in building brand awareness through social media.
“I wanted to infuse my experience in fashion and visual merchandising with creating a visually stunning and effective social media presence for the brands,” Mackayla said, “I have a particular passion for Instagram marketing so I decided to focus on learning everything I could about this platform, and offering services and workshops around it.”
“The biggest challenge in the beginning was self-promotion. It wasn’t something I was particularly comfortable with, so I really had to put myself out there and start selling myself.”
After a few months of working on Social Stylings, and volunteering her time through internships and work experience, Mackayla landed a position in a corporate company as social media coordinator, growing into marketing manager in just a few short months.
“My biggest take-away from that role was the importance of understanding your target customer and the industry that your business is in. It really does affect the way you use social media to promote your business.”
As the demand for Social Stylings services grew, it became apparent to Mackayla that the next step would be to leave her full time position as a marketing manager and give her business her all.
And although the thought of running her business full time scared her, she said she had a community of entrepreneurs guiding her who she had met at weekly networking events.
“One of them in particular gave me the insight that there is never a perfect time to do something; you’ve just got to take the leap.”
Mackayla said she has learnt many lessons, both professionally and personally, since beginning Social Stylings, but she said her biggest lesson is to look after yourself and remember to live too.
“Even if what you do for a living is a passion, you still need to take the necessary time out to enjoy the rest of your life,” Mackayla said,
“Taking proper lunch breaks, finishing within your set office hours and allowing you to have a weekend and a holiday from time to time… You need to remind yourself that we were not born to work.”
And although Mackayla worked so hard to be accepted into her dream university, she said she doesn’t have any regrets about the pathway her career has taken her.
“I am a big believer that everything happens for a reason.”
“If I had of been able to go to university, there’s a chance it may have taken me until the end of my degree to launch my business, which means that it probably wouldn’t have happened until around 2018 – that’s 2 years away!”
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was 10 I wanted to be an author. I’ve always loved writing and I remember distinctly creating this mini-magazine about A6-7 size with a single piece of purple card paper. My plan was to sell it for 50c on the school playground… until I realised how difficult production would be and then I canned that idea!
If you had one day to try any job in the world, what would it be?
This is going to sound really random but I think I would love to be a trainer of either the Wombats or Tortoises at Australia Zoo. I love animals (just not birds, I have a phobia) and those two different ones are just so sweet!