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Foundress Friday: Beth McRae, CEO of The McRae Agency and Owner of High Society Resale Boutique

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Beth McRae is the CEO of The McRae Agency and owner of High Society Resale Boutique.

“I own and operate two businesses. High Society Resale Boutique (luxury resale women’s boutique) and The McRae Agency (full-service PR, marketing and social media firm). I love having a hand in two disparate businesses.”

AZF: What is your “life motto”?
BM: “My code is to be quick to smile and slow to anger.”

AZF: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? If not, when did you realize that it was the right path for you?
BM: “I started selling painted rocks on the side of our road to benefit the Arizona Humane Society at age 8. I knew then that I could do absolutely anything.”

AZF: How do you feel best supported?
BM: “By having a team that is smart and extremely talented. I like to hire people who are smarter than me.”

AZF: What motivates you to keep going admist the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur?
BM: “The feeling of accomplishment in both of my businesses and my positive attitude.”

AZF: Describe your perfect Saturday morning.
BM: “Having coffee and reading interesting news.”

AZF: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a young entrepreneur who is just starting out?
BM: “Write a business plan even if you don’t stick to it. It’s a valuable exercise.”

AZF: What makes you most excited about being an entrepreneur?
BM: “I love making a difference in our world.”

Follow the Beth McRae on LinkedIn & Instagram or visit her website for more information.

Executive Inc.: Valley PR firm CEO Beth McRae celebrates Dia de Los Muertos with huge artwork collection

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It was the early 1990s when Beth McRae got her first taste of Dia de los Muertos — or Day of the Dead.

The CEO of The McRae Agency was at the Phoenix Art Museum with her sister when she saw an exhibit focusing on this Mexican tradition that celebrates and honors the lives of deceased family members.

When they were perusing the gift shop, McRae saw a cutaway of a house filled with skeletons. With the turn of a crank, the skeletons begin playing instruments.

"I was captivated," McRae said.

Her sister offered to buy it for her as a Christmas gift. But when she unwrapped the gift at Christmas, their mother chastised her sister for buying her skeletons for Christmas. It allowed them, though, to fill their mother in on the annual tradition, where people create altars for their departed loved ones, and celebrate with food, music and dance on Nov. 1 and 2.

That first piece of artwork kicked off a collection that has grown to more than 2,000 pieces.

About this time every year, McRae pulls out her 30 storage bins and begins decorating her Paradise Valley home in preparation of a Dia de los Muertos Fiesta.

How long have you been throwing these parties? I've had this party every year since 1994 — nine years in San Diego and 20 years in Phoenix. It started with about 30 people and has grown to 250. We serve Mexican food and margaritas, exposing people to the coolness of it. We build an altar. It has become a signature party for me.

How has your collection grown over the years? I've been in and out of Mexico so many times over the years. I always pick up something when I'm down there. I'm collecting every year. It needs to stop growing.

Why don't you display your artwork all year long? I'm married to somebody who said, "Um, I love that you have this and I think it's perfect to bring out once a year for the party. But not all year. I don't love it that much." It works out. We have other artwork; other beautiful things we enjoy.

What do you usually wear when you host these parties? Some people paint their face with a Day of the Dead skeleton. Our guests are so creative, but it's not a costume party. Don't feel you need to wear black. It's a celebration remembering loved ones. Typically, I wear a dress I had made out of tablecloth fabric with sugar skulls and Day of the Dead figures.

What's the difference between Halloween skeletons and Day of the Dead skeletons? The origins of Halloween are very different. People wear costumes to scare off evil spirits. For Day of the Dead, the families go to the cemetery grave site of their loved ones and build an altar, make special bread called pan de muerte. The family comes together to welcome the spirit that has passed on to celebrate with us. Those are days of celebration; not days of mourning at all.

Tell us about your public relations firm. I started it in San Diego and then opened an office in San Francisco during the dot-com era when there was a shortage of PR people at the time. I moved back here in 2001 and brought the San Francisco office with me. All the employees work here; they work remotely from home.

And you got into the retail business? I bought a women's consignment retail boutique in March called High Society Resale Boutique. It opened in 1984 behind Handlebar Jay at the northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. The second owner had been operating it for 23 years and was going to shut it down because the lease was expiring. I said, "Please don't shut it down. I've been a customer and consignor here." She sold it to me for a very reasonable price and I inherited her sales team. In our building there was an extra long space where a Realtor had retired, so I took it. My landlord put a door between my office and the boutique. I pop in and out of there.

High Society Resale Boutique is all women's clothing, handbags, sunglasses, shoes, jewelry — anything a woman might wear. People have been coming here for years getting black-tie gala gowns. It's also really motivated me to go through my things and bring them in. I love being part of re-use, repurpose, recycle. It aligns with my personal values.

How far will you go to recycle? I want to vibrate at a high frequency in life and do the right thing to be a good steward, not just for my community but everywhere I go. I need to make sure my actions line up with my values. If that means dumpster diving for recyclables, I will do it.

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