Signed at age 17 with the Elite modeling agency of Los Angeles, Maran appeared on her first cover with Glamour magazine in 1998; she was then the featured Guess? Girl in their summer 1998 and fall 1998 campaigns. After building a résumé of over 25 commercials and advertisements, including playing Howie D's companion in the music video of Backstreet Boys hit "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", in which she was bitten on the neck by Count Dracula (played by Howie D), Maran moved cross-country to join with Elite in New York City. In 1999, she landed a multi-year deal with Maybelline. Maran appeared in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for three consecutive years: from 2000 to 2002.