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Meet MMH alumni: Mairin Barnes ’14

Mairin Barnes, MMH '14 & Founder of Sweet Whistle

Mairin Barnes, MMH’ 14

Pennsylvania USA

Mairin Barnes is an MMH ’14 alumna. She’s originally from Pennsylvania, USA and within the MMH program she chose a self-directed concentration that focused on entrepreneurship. Right after Mairin finished the MMH program she launched her own business, Sweet Whistle ( Sweet Whistle is already receiving media attention and was most recently featured as the “current obsession” in the weddings section of Check out the article here:

Why Cornell? Why hotel school?

“I was fortunate enough to pursue my undergraduate studies at Cornell and therefore knew the tremendous value of a Cornell education and the Cornell network. After working in Finance for five years, I wanted to switch career paths and pursue my goal of starting my own business in the Hospitality industry. Cornell’s Hotel School has a reputation for excellence that is world renowned making it the perfect place to bridge my business background with my interest in hospitality entrepreneurship.

However, it was my conversations with alums of the program that truly inspired me to make the decision. Whether I was speaking to an alum working in hospitality finance or a restaurant entrepreneur, their feedback continually centered on their respect for the Cornell community and the doors The Hotel School opened to help them achieve their goals.”

What are you doing now?

Sweet Whistle

“Since graduating in May of 2014, I have been pursuing my dream of starting my business, Sweet Whistle. Sweet Whistle creates artfully paired, personalized wedding welcome boxes and event favors using all US based artisan products. Since launching my website in October, I have been developing partnerships with hotels to act as a preferred vendor option for their brides. I intend to expand and work with these hotels on their corporate event gift needs in the future. Please check out the site to see more about Sweet Whistle!” 

What is your favorite thing about your position?

“My favorite thing about my job is the ability to combine my creative side with my analytical side. Owning Sweet Whistle allows me the opportunity to wear many hats which I really enjoy. No week is ever the same and on any given day I am involved with: sourcing new gift ideas for a custom client request; meeting with new hotel wedding coordinators and tapping into existing Cornell contacts; attending trade shows, managing expenses, producing marketing content as well as analyzing website traffic data.”

Whats your best advice for prospective MMH candidate?

“My advice: Be as specific as possible with yourself about what you want to get out of the program. There are so many interesting paths to take during your short time as an MMH candidate that it can become overwhelming to narrow down your course selection, speaker series and event options. The better defined your goals are from the beginning, the more you can truly immerse yourself into all that the MMH has to offer for your next career step.”

What is your memorable MMH moment?

“It is difficult to choose after such a rewarding year. However, I would pick the trip to Los Angeles hosted by the Pillsbury Institute as one of the most memorable moments. I had the opportunity to attend both the Innovation Network and the Thayer Ventures Annual meeting. The Innovation Network invites industry leaders to a day of brainstorming, speaker series opportunities, and networking all focused on the future of innovation in hospitality. It was truly a unique experience to not only meet many of these executives but also to hear their goals for innovation in their respective companies. The following day, Thayer Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on the hospitality industry, allowed our group to sit in on their annual meeting. We had the privilege of hearing presentations from each of their portfolio companies regarding their goals, growth strategy and team backgrounds. It was incredibly inspiring to hear from some of the most innovative leaders in the industry and listen to their views on the future.”

A big thank you to Mairin for letting us interview her! We’re really excited to follow the success of Sweet Whistle!


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