In 2014, Miss Porter’s School began a new tradition of having Ancients serve as graduation speakers. Continuing this tradition, we are thrilled to announce this year’s speaker, Trustee Darcy Mauro ’83.
Darcy is a true global citizen who has led a notable career that spans industries and continents. After graduating from Miss Porter’s School in 1983, Darcy attended the University of Virginia, earning a degree in economics in 1987. She then began working at Macy’s in New York City in the company’s executive training program. There Darcy found success, quickly rising to the role of buyer of prom dresses before moving on to junior trend clothing.
She left Macy’s to pursue a career at The Gap, where she was hired to be one of the first employees of a new venture called Gap Warehouse, now known as Old Navy. She explains, “At the time, everyone was knocking off the Gap so we decided we should knock ourselves off and this was the idea that sparked the concept for what is now Old Navy. We opened our first store on a Tuesday. Within the first day we had more business than the number one Gap store on Broadway and 34th Street in New York. That is when I knew we were on to something!”
Darcy notes that her retail career afforded her the opportunity to find her passion, and found that she was particularly interested in the business side of retail as well as the customer experience. She adds that retail also taught her that “it’s OK to make mistakes. That’s what we call a markdown in the retail world. Instead of getting hung up about it, you have to figure out how to fix it. I remember one day I had too much denim so instead of worrying about what to do with the extra… I decided to make shorts. The lesson is you need to solve the problem, try things, and see what works.”
This attitude, coupled with her business acumen, served Darcy well as she moved on from The Gap to explore a career outside of the retail industry, working for a variety of companies in the manufacturing and software fields before she found herself at Sawgrass in Charleston, South Carolina. There, she joined the team as marketing manager for the company, which at the time employed just 25 people and did business in five countries. Fast forward 12 years and Darcy is now president of the company, which currently does business in more than 100 countries with customers ranging from Nike and Shutterfly to small entrepreneurs around the world. With its proprietary ink and printing products, you’ve seen their work on the many photo mugs and iPhone covers you see today.
With a career that takes her abroad on a regular basis — she was in 20 countries in just the last year — Darcy can speak to life as a global citizen. “Traveling abroad, with employees and customers all over the world, has helped me to understand the different markets and cultures,” she explains.
Of her time at Miss Porter’s School, Darcy shares that it influenced her life with the “yes, you can” attitude instilled by members of the school’s faculty and staff. “It is an all-girls’ school, with all the leadership opportunities [for girls],” she notes. “The teachers gave me the confidence that I could, which was empowering and in turn, gave me self confidence.”
Darcy has remained active with the school she says shaped her life, serving as a member of the Miss Porter’s School Board of Trustees for the past nine years and as co-chair of the Alumnae Board before that. “It has been interesting to watch the school evolve,” she says. “Kate [Windsor] has figured out a vision for the school, and for the future of girls’ education, and has taken Miss Porter’s School from a position of strength to a position of greater and more relevant strength, guided by what is important today.”
Darcy has carried the “yes, you can” attitude of her Miss Porter’s School days with her throughout her life and her career, noting that she has always done the unexpected, figuring out what works, what doesn’t, and learning from those experiences to figure out how to do things her way. Her advice to current students: “Figure out the path that works for you so you can be the best you. You have to be comfortable listening to yourself and following what feels right for yourself.”