“…don’t compare your growth to others. Stay in your lane. We all achieve success in our own time.”
Who is Cory? Tell us about yourself…
I am just a girl who can’t wait to quit my full-time job so that I can run my
business full time (lol!). I’m a Retail Banker by day and a boutique owner by
night, and every other free time I can get!
I’m actually a retired classical singer. I
performed in front of orchestras, held recitals, and competed as a classical/opera singer. It was truly a glamorous life being in ball gowns and gorgeous dresses and people wanting to see you and actually paying to hear you sing and being invited to galas and other classy social events. It’s a memory that I will treasure forever.
I was diagnosed with lupus in 2013 while I was getting my master’s in
music. I got so sick that I couldn’t sing anymore so I had to quit graduate school and singing altogether. I’ve worked as a private music teacher since then and supplemented my income by working part-time office jobs.
I was a Research Assistant for one year for a recruiting company, then I became an Accounting Assistant/Intern for a CPA for about 6 months. After that, I decided to get my MBA, but quit that after a year because the thought of being in a corporate job forever scared me to death. So here I am now, working as a Retail Banker at a local bank.
Tell us about Mary & Heart Boutique and who/what inspired you to start your business?
Mary & Heart Boutique is an online clothing and accessories store for women. We sell primarily on our website and also on a platform called Poshmark.
It was during my year as a Research Assistant that I got the idea of having my own business. I really hated sitting in the office in front of the computer for 5 hours straight (it was a part-time job). There was nothing creative about it and it was just so boring that it ate at my soul. But I needed help paying my medical bills so I had to stay at that job while I taught music.
I didn’t really know what type of business I wanted to start so I just started searching on Youtube “quit office job to start a business”. I came across Jane Lu, the founder of Showpo – an online clothing boutique in Australia. She was working as an accountant and decided to quit her job. I really related to her because she just hated her office job so much that she quit in the middle of the recession back in 2008 with no real plan.
Her story gave me the courage to just start and to go with my gut. I started my online boutique in 2015, but it wasn’t named Mary & Heart then. It was called Coconut789 – my personal Instagram handle. As you can see, I didn’t really even think so much about the name either (lol). I really had no concrete plan. I renamed my boutique, Mary & Heart, in 2016. My full name is Maria Corazon, so in English, Mary Heart – Mary & Heart!
What is your favorite part about running your own business?
My favorite part of running this business is shopping! I love finding clothes that I think would look great on me and that other women like me would love also. I love the process from ordering to unboxing and unpacking, to steaming, taking photos, placing in inventory, and then shipping it to my customers. I love it all!
Name a memorable experience you have had since starting Mary & Heart.
The most memorable experience I’ve had so far is getting connected with
Instagram influencers. I’m always on Instagram and I follow a lot of influencers. They just seem to have this lifestyle that everyone wants to have. Their posts are just so aesthetically pleasing and I love the way they could style an item into something so marketable. I’m aware that that is their job and that they might not live such a glamorous life in real life, but I still love following them and be inspired by their posts.
What is one lesson you have learned from building up your own company?
Don’t try to grow too fast. Grow at your own pace. It’s nice to look at other businesses grow and you can definitely learn from them, but don’t compare your growth to others. Stay in your lane. We all achieve success in our own time. Also, don’t let others pressure you into thinking that you should’ve achieved success by now or that you should’ve quit your job by now (aka friends and family who don’t even know your business). Only YOU know what is best for YOUR business.
Where do you hope to see Mary & Heart in 5 years?
I definitely see myself running Mary & Heart full time in 5 years. I’m going to have a small office/warehouse space so that I can grow and be more profitable. I can see this business surpassing my current income now and supporting my lifestyle in the next 5 years.
What is one advice that you can give to someone starting a new business?
As cliché as it sounds – just start! You will make mistakes and you’re going to want to give up at times. Make those mistakes and learn from them. I quit this business twice before finally sticking to it. I’ve made so many mistakes, lost a lot of money, but gained a lot of experience in return. It’s a learning process and you’re always going to learn something new. You really don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve tried.
What role do you have in society and/or how do you wish to contribute?
My business is not exactly innovative in any way (lol). If you look on the outside, it looks like just another girl who is in love with trendy outfits and wants to sell clothes online. But I definitely want to take it further and give back in the future.
I would love to be involved in helping women in low-income areas who are starting or wanting to start a career without a proper wardrobe or the money to get a new wardrobe. The retail industry is definitely one that is wasteful and harmful to the environment. I’ve never thrown away clothing. I’ve always donated them or recycled them.
In the next few years, when my business is more established, I would love to donate unsold merchandise to women in need so that they can achieve success too – whether that be in school or at work. As shallow as it may sound, we feel the most confident when we look our best. I plan to partner with a local charity that helps women in low-income areas so that they can improve their lifestyle and provide a better life for themselves and their families.
Explain a time where you’ve used your talents to inspire the community and how do you hope to keep doing so?
I’ve partnered with two local brands in the past and it was such a fun time collaborating and bringing our brands together to create local brand awareness. I definitely would love to collaborate with more local brands in the future. I want to inspire my community to support local brands.
Lastly, what is the best piece of advice you can give in life?
Life is too short to be doing something you don’t love. I’m still learning this myself. I work hard every day so that I don’t have to work my 9-5 job for another year or two.
SHOP & stay updated with Mary & Heart Boutique :
IG : @maryandheart
FB : @maryandheart
To Cory: Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so glad you stepped out of that 9-5 bubble to pursue something more fulfilling for your life. You’ve accomplished so much and it’s AMAZING how strong you are. Even though some obstacles, you managed to push through and keep going. I hope your story inspires people to keep pushing no matter what. Congratulations on all your success with Mary & Heart and I’m looking forward to seeing how much more you can do in the next couple of years!
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