Student Life

Maggie Seabrook (McIntire ’24): A Maverick in Business, Branding, and Community

In high school, Seabrook’s passion for entrepreneurship was sparked by reselling thrifted clothing. Unexpectedly, this endeavor would shape her future and lead her to McIntire.

Maggie Seabrook

A fourth-year student weeks away from graduation, Maggie Seabrook (McIntire ’24) can often be found studying in the open air, taking in the beauty of Grounds. “I love to spend time outside and in nature,” she explains. “When spring hits, I almost always elect to study outside if I can.”

The southern New Jersey native has long held a love of the outdoors, a predilection fueled by memories of going down to the shore in Cape May or spending time at her family’s cabin in Maine.

Studying outside is also representative of those full-circle moments that Seabrook has experienced during her time at UVA and as a McIntire student. Unassumingly, the simple act has come to be one of many impactful moments both inside and outside of the classroom that have included time spent thrifting, branding, working as an ambassador—and being an inspiration for others.

Running a Business, Creating a Brand

Growing up in small town Greenwich, NJ, Seabrook never thought of herself as particularly business oriented. Her father worked in business for her multigenerational family company, but she never gave it much thought. It wasn’t until she was in high school, and in need of pocket money, that she discovered a way to create her own business by reselling and consigning thrifted clothes and accessories.

“It was the most accessible thing for me as a teenager because it was something I could do before I had a driver’s license,” she explains.

She perused thrift stores for items she thought could have a high resale value online, researching comps and running analytics. “I realized that I really loved the social nuances of creating a business, especially branding and marketing. I enjoyed looking into the data of my different customer segments and understanding why they were purchasing what they were purchasing,” she says.

Eventually, Seabrook’s business expanded into consigning for friends and family who would drop off bags of castoff goods. But as the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another one’s treasure.

“When I started reselling online, I would make little Excel spreadsheets for my aunts and uncles who were giving me their clothing. It was like a beginner inventory and accounting system where I would track the sale price minus my commission,” she says.

Looking at the World through a Business Lens

The thrifted clothing operation wasn’t the first time Seabrook dabbled in a business venture. Reflecting on her childhood, she remembers seizing entrepreneurial opportunities during annual events in her historic town.

“There was an annual Christmas lights house tour where people would come walk around and see all of the old houses decorated for the holidays. Nine-year-old me thought it would be a great idea to sell hot chocolate in my front yard,” she says. She also took advantage of the summer’s artisan craft fair, selling ice-cold lemonade to shoppers.

Both experiences taught her a lot about running a business, especially when she quickly realized that she needed more manpower to complete tasks like manning the cash box and running to refill pitchers from the house to the point-of-purchase.

“I would bring on my sister or close friends in the neighborhood,” she explains. “Then I started learning about profit sharing, work schedules, and decision-making. It also brought up nuances like working in teams, specialization, and contributing fair share.”

Seabrook continued to see the world around her through a business-oriented lens. She took a typical retail job and saw learning opportunities she would eventually apply to her future in business. When SKUs and barcodes promoted register errors, Seabrook saw a reduction in sales revenue; when mannequins featured merchandise no longer available for purchase, she saw a reduction in customer satisfaction. Each shift at the register brought an opportunity for organizational efficiency and business optimization.

Seabrook remembered all of these pivotal moments as she embarked on her Commerce studies at McIntire. Much of the content she’s learned, from Integrated Core courses to classes specific to her concentrations in Marketing and IT, she relates back to both her childhood endeavors and self-taught business concepts. They are also lessons she plans to apply after graduation, when she embarks on a career as a Brand Strategy Consultant at Lippincott, a New York City-based division of Oliver Wyman.

“I had an internship in their creative consultancy last summer, and I received a return offer that I accepted. I’m excited to help build and shape brands and use customer insights and data to help position brands to be more relevant,” she says.

The firm also invited Seabrook to speak about her experience working on the creative side of business during a UVA information session it hosted earlier this year. Having been in the same shoes as prospective applicants just a year ago, she says it was a full circle moment to be on the other side of the table.

“I had just received my offer letter. Speaking at the info session as a future consultant made me remember how exciting I found the work to be and how much I loved what I was going to do. I signed my offer letter the next day, and now I’ll be moving to New York!” she says.

Building Community at Comm

The road to get where she is today wasn’t always smooth. After touring UVA as a high school junior and “absolutely loving it,” and then being accepted, she quickly realized that she didn’t know anyone on Grounds. She felt isolated further because she started school in the midst of COVID. Seabrook says that has made the community she’s found through McIntire that much more rewarding.

“I definitely struggled to make friends my first year and to find a sense of community. There are a lot of people in the same boat as I was. And while it may be intimidating to approach someone and ask them to lunch in the dining hall or to grab a cup of coffee, more often than not, that results in a positive experience.”

She describes it as low-stakes, high-reward. It’s also how she met her first, really good friend at UVA.

“My RA made the connection to a new girl who had just moved in and had similar interests. So, we made a plan, and we’ve been close friends ever since,” she says.

Over the last two years, Seabrook says she’s been able to find her niche at McIntire. A key part of this is her role in the Promotions class, a project-based advertising and branding course that competes in the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC). The class has aligned perfectly with her career interests in brand work. In her leadership role as a Strategy and Planning Chair, Seabrook leads the class by selecting the campaign direction and creating the research and insight development story that informed their campaign strategy. Along the way, Seabrook has continued to build community within McIntire. Small instances, like working with her Promotions group to pull off a big presentation, to impactful experiences, like connecting with her Integrated Core group on a deeper level after their final, have been highlights.

“After our presentation, we went out to lunch and spent time talking about things unrelated to the work. We are all from different backgrounds, from different places. Some had studied abroad; others had interests in finance or wealth management. It was a nice, celebratory moment for us,” she says.

Seabrook speaks with great admiration for the people she has met through McIntire–both inside and outside of the classroom. In fact, one of the members of her small group became Seabrook’s roommate in New York during the summer, and a member of her block is her current roommate. They’re known for hosting pasta parties in their apartment.

“I like to cook a lot. For Christmas, my dad gave me cooking equipment for my eventual apartment. Sometimes I’ll make pasta dough with a manual roller, cut it, dry it out, and then make homemade sauce. It’s relatively easy, and we like to entertain our friends,” she says.

Breaking Unconventional Barriers

Seabrook has also carved out a pathway at McIntire that is complementary to her creative ambitions in business. It has not only helped her professionally in landing a great internship and job, but it’s also helped her overcome what she says can sometimes be a daunting environment.

“When you come in as a third-year and you’re not on the Finance track, it can be a little overwhelming to hear about people’s experiences over the summer interning with big name banks or consulting firms. “Sometimes McIntire can feel like an intimidating place if you’re following an unconventional path, but there are really great communities within it.”

Seabrook talks a lot about her creativity and what she calls “Comm-unity” as a McIntire Ambassador, a role she was selected for along with eight others out of a large pool of applications. Working with Admissions, she represents Comm at advising sessions, at University and School-specific events, and on tours geared towards prospective students ranging from high school students to transfer students to current UVA students looking to apply to the Comm School. This year, Seabrook was selected as the Lead Ambassador, overseeing 20 other Ambassadors, assisting with prospective student event coordination, and giving private tours of McIntire.

“I’ve realized that in some cases, we are the first point of contact a prospective or current UVA student may have with McIntire,” she shares. “I remember when I toured UVA, the first tour I took was by a McIntire Ambassador.”

It was during that tour that Seabrook learned about the School’s emphasis on students acquiring a strong background in multiple areas of business. Beginning with a strong liberal arts foundation, followed by a multidisciplinary business course of study in the Integrated Core, culminating with a declaration of concentration, appealed to her. “It’s why students leave the Comm School with such a powerful business mindset,” she says. She also credits it with increasing her confidence and skill level in public speaking. This year, she was selected as the Communication Scholar for her block based on her written and verbal communication skills. Much of this, Seabrook says, is thanks to the emphasis on class participation and presentations at McIntire and the tours she has led as an ambassador.

It’s also something she now highlights on her own tours and has found that her experience is inspiring to others.

“I had a dad approach me on one tour because his daughter was interested in following a similar path to mine in marketing,” she says. “I respect that when people tour the School they want to know facts like average salary upon graduation. But it’s also nice to have people tell you what they’re passionate about and ask you how they can accomplish their goals.”

To achieve this, Seabrook stresses the importance of risk and doing things that are a little unconventional. It’s advice that she follows herself. It’s how she navigated the Finance-heavy student body to find her community among the creative Marketing students. It’s how she overcame her fears about moving to the big city for a summer internship. “I absolutely loved it,” she says. And it’s how she plans to direct her career in brand consultancy in a successful direction.

“It’s easy to put yourself in a box and be labeled by a stereotype,” she says. “It’s really important to shatter all of those conventions and have a multidisciplinary set of skills and a multifaceted sense of self. Sit in that uncomfortable feeling. I’ve found in the past, when I’ve felt that way, I’ve found something really good.”

Find out about all the exciting things happening in the McIntire community. Visit our news page for the latest updates.

More News