One of my favorite memories as a child is when we visited a family friend and their teenaged daughter gave me the best thing ever: my very first Lisa Frank pencil! Not only was I excited over the fact that this teenager was spending time with a pesky seven-year-old, but she also gave something so generously. In my young mind, the pencil equaled to an expensive purse, and one that I took great care of when I brought it to school the next day.
Fast forward to nearly 26 years later and I still witness the same soul generously sharing her light through social media and her many businesses that aim to empower and promote holistic wellness.
Her name is Mara Francesca, who was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to United States over 15 years ago.
“I had the opportunity to move to the United States because of strong, resilient women like my mother, my aunt, and especially my dearly departed grandmother, Lola Mila. She moved to the US decades ago to help her family and became one of the pioneers of senior retirement homes for special needs in Los Angeles, California.”
Rooting herself in Las Vegas with her forever person, Ryan Austria, Mara pursued entrepreneurial endeavors, something she has done since she was a child. “Even when I was younger, I always had a knack of buying, innovating, branding, creating and selling.
“At age four, I would always get chocolates from the US and would try to sell it to people at school. That got me in trouble! When I was 10, having an affinity for the arts, I sold my drawings of Forever Friends Bears dressed in my school uniform and made it into a greeting card.”
She continued, “It wasn’t really a huge surprise that I opened up my own businesses. Besides having entrepreneurs as parents, it was natural for me to see the world differently — why other brands work, and why other brands get a specific demographic.”
But Mara’s main inspiration in starting businesses was her long journey with mental health, after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD as well as Bipolar Disorder, rooted in childhood traumas.
“I have managed my mental health with Yoga, mindfulness, and homeopathic wellness that led me to own three businesses: Lola + Mila, a CBD company, and The Miracle Marketplace that carries crystals and esoteric products with strong influences of the Filipino culture. Both brands are under the umbrella of my distribution company, The Miracle Enterprise LLC.”
She then explained, “My businesses are all derivatives of my grandma Mila (lola+Mila) whose name is Milagros Mercado, which literally translates to Miracle Marketplace. I wanted only one thing in products — to be as natural as possible and be [paraben-free].
“My branding of The Miracle Marketplace and Lola + Mila had strong ties to my roots and wanted to share my culture and how I see the islands of the Philippines with a mixture of my home of 15 years, Las Vegas. I am extremely proud of my roots and my battle born state that adopted me more than a decade ago. I made sure that my products were manufactured by one of the best companies in Southern Nevada.”
When asked what her advice was for entrepreneurs, she notes “to have passion on what they are selling. You also need to believe in yourself in order to believe in what you are selling. Passion is such a key factor in business.
“Whether if you’re a small business doing this as a hobby, or manifesting products of your own, stop thinking that it’s just the product that you’re selling. You need to brand yourself and how you can approach your client base as not just a customer but as a dear fellow advocate who supports your endeavors.
“I always see my customers, my students as individuals and an extended family member and not just statistics. I try my very best to engage with them often especially with social media. When you shift your perspective that way, you will see the difference on how you see business.”
Aside from being an entrepreneur, Mara is also a trailblazer in the modeling industry. Just last week, she announced that she is the first Filipina plus-sized model to have a campaign for Warner’s, a brand that is sold in Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s.
To know more, you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram, The Miracle Marketplace and Lola + Mila.