We had the good fortune of connecting with Stevie Merino and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stevie, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
The single most important decision I’ve made that has contributed to my success is by showing up as my full authentic self always. In this society there are so many ideas around professionalism, compartmentalization, that political beliefs are best kept out of work, and that competition is the name of the game. When I decided to work for myself and to do birthwork full time, I had to really investigate and reflect on how I wanted to approach this work and if I was comfortable with the rigid ideas around business and success that are largely followed. Birthwork is such intimate work, we work with people in some of the most intimate parts of their lives and moments, I’ve found that allowing myself the space to share with people who I am has really fostered a space of trust, reciprocity, and the foundations for building community. I am outspoken and unapologetic about all of the intersecting identities that I carry, how I believe this work is political and rooted in activism, and that I am not interested in engaging in competition because I want us all to win. Being authentic and showing up as my full self has not always been comfortable for me and to be honest at times it has felt scary, too exposing, and forced me to be vulnerable. I’m grateful though for those moments of discomfort because that vulnerability has helped me to undo ideas around hierarchies, power structures, and again to build community. 

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My life is all things pregnancy & birth! I have been a doula since 2015. After becoming pregnant with my little one I felt called to this work after seeing little representation and lack of access/knowledge about doulas, I jumped completely in and since then it has been a fast moving train! I’ve been a community organizer & activist since 14 years old, my politics shape the way I approach life & my work. I’m a single mami to a beautiful energetic 5 year old. I’m an anthropologist and I do research on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum traditions and on birthworkers experiences. I co-curated an art exhibit at The Pacific Islander Ethnic Art Museum in Long Beach that was the first of its kind and was based off the research I do called “Carrying the Pacific: Pregnancy, Birth, & Parenting of Pacific Islanders.” I am one of the creators and a trainer for The Birthworkers of color Doula of Color Training & the Birthworker of Color Collective. I am a lactation professional and have so many other offerings that I provide for clients and community. I believe birthwork is advocacy and activism especially when working with pregnant people of Color and supporting all pregnancy outcomes. I never thought this would the work that I would be doing and now I can’t think of doing anything else, it’s cheesy to say but I feel grateful that I am doing work that feels aligned and that I am passionate about.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Pre and hopefully post COVID I would take someone to visit community/cultural staples like PIEAM (Pacific Islander Ethnic Art Museum) one of the only Pacific Islander Art museums. I’d take them to a class/workshop/to visit the apothecary at Flora y Tierra (instagram: @flora_y_tierra), have them join a Black Lives Matter sponsored or organized event with BLM LBC (instagram: @blmlbc), on a Sunday go to join in on a CHamoru language or dance class with Kutturan Chamoru Foundation KCF (instagram: @kutturanchamorufoundation), to have a photoshoot at Pacific Hill Studio (instagram: @pacifichillstudio) and to do some shopping at Native Sol (instagram: @nativesol) just to name a few!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Special shoutout as always to my Saina (my ancestors) who have guided me to this sacred work & who lead me to do it in a good way, to the Birthworkers of Color Collective (instagram: @birthworkersofcolor) for being a space of radical authenticity/vulnerability/growth and for unapologetically centering pregnant and birthing people of Color in all pregnancy outcomes and beyond, and shoutout to myself—this work is not always easy and especially during this pandemic where it has been quite heavy—but I’m still showing up, still advocating, and still trying to do everything in my capacity to serve my community and clients.

Website: solandrootsdoula.com
Instagram: @solandrootsdoula
Facebook: facebook.com/solandrootsdoula
Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sol-and-roots-doula-long-beach

Image Credits
Erin Wimberly

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