We had the good fortune of connecting with Mariah Romero and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mariah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
To be completely honest, a stage of depression guided me to open my own business. I have worked since the age of fifteen and when I started my MSW program I had to commit full time to school and stop working, which in turn led me to my entrepreneur path. However, the purpose of my store blossomed from the importance of mental health and self-care which I learned from Social Work.
After graduating from my master’s program, I decided to take a break and focus on my own self-care. I did a lot of self-reflection and I had this reoccurring thought that I wanted to own and create something but I was not sure as to what exactly. During my post-grad path, I went a year looking for jobs and was constantly being told no or not getting a change to interview, which greatly impacted my own mental health. I can say I went through a depressive state due to all the rejection and negative self-talk that comes with that. Then I remember one day looking on Instagram and seeing so many accounts of Latina Business owners selling homemade soaps and lotions and I thought to myself, I bet I can do that. So, I did. With the little money I had left I invested them into books and spent days researching how to make organic essential oil based products. My first time showcasing my new products was at my grandma’s birthday and so many of her friends encouraged me to sell my products.
So I decided right then and there that I was not going to wait for someone to give me a job opportunity, I was going to create my own job and path within healing and self-care, and that is where The Original Marstore began.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Original Marstore is a small Latina owned business from East LA that focuses on promoting self-care and positive mental health. I do this by providing affordable natural and organic self-care products, which I make in my mom’s kitchen. My most loved product by my customers is my Orange Turmeric Make Up Remover Soap, I don’t mean to brag (but I am) it is definitely the BEST in town. So many women love that soap and have told me they have thrown away their makeup remover wipes. I make sure that all my items are chemical free and essential oil based which promotes balance emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Most importantly my products are made with love and so much intention, I really spend time researching the best herbs and oils to use within my products that can help bring balance.
I want the world to know that The Original Marstore is a story of humble beginnings and a deep love and respect for being proud of your roots. When you look at my store you will see it’s a love letter to Old East LA culture; the Chevy lowrider bombs, oldies, and the 80’s and 90’s party scene, my family background. If you look at our aesthetic, you, without a doubt, see East LA but you also see my roots, which also sets us apart from others. Many of my products are named after songs that my parents would listen to, from Oldies to 80’s freestyle, house, and disco. When you go on our website and if you look closely, our background is pictures of my family from many generations. I did this because they shaped who I am, either directly or indirectly. I am very proud of my story.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would have to share places that I grew up going to with my mom and dad. Definitely a place to walk around, listen to music and buy some bad t-shirts on a chill Friday night is the Santa Fe Swap meet. Make sure to get yourself a churro while you are checking out the little stores.
If you want to be immersed in East LA culture, oldies, and beautiful rides, cruise down Whittier Blvd by the Target in Commerce and watch the lowriders and bombs cruise up and down the streets of East LA.
Looking for the best burgers in town Arry’s in Montebello is the place to get your grub on and if you are a vegan (which I have transitioned over to) Monty’s Good Burger in Echo Park.
Want to enjoy nature, visit Ascot Hills in El Sereno, on a clear day you can see all the way to the beach. You get some of the best views in East LA.
If you grew up listening to 80’s and 90’s house, disco, high energy, freestyle, and KROQ music (from my parents) make sure to visit Cities in East LA. Great food as well.
And of course you have to go to a Dodger game, LA bleeds blue.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely a dedication my momma. She is the strongest woman I have and will ever know. I saw her sacrifice so much of her life in order for me to succeed in mine. She is, without a doubt, a very hard working woman, which is where I feel I get my dedication to work and perseverance. She never once and still does not give up no matter how hard life has got, which definitely keeps going.
She also inspires and critiques many of the items. I remember when she gave me feedback on our Orange Turmeric Makeup Remover soap, I was so nervous because I value her feedback, when she said it was the best soap she has ever used, that meant the world to me. And what do you know, our turmeric soap is one of the top-selling soaps! I get some much positive feedback from so many ladies!
Finally, both my Grandma Maria and my Grandma June. These two strong hard working women helped raise me and provided me with so much love and care. I can definitely say their own hustle and creativity runs in my blood because of them. I am blessed to have just strong women in my life.
Instagram: The Original Marstore