Breast Cancer 🎀 Awareness Month: Marika's Story
Since the beginning, the MV brand was conceived as a philosophy to empower women all around the world, to make them explore and feel comfortable with their erotic identity, and to encourage a sex positive view from the feminine and sensual point of view. Designed and mostly handmade in her atelier in Mexico City, her line consists of show stoppers and everyday pieces that accentuate and celebrate the female form. Find her collection here.
A little over 2 years ago, Marika was diagnosed with BC. Last year, Azaleas teamed up with MV for an epic event (oh, those pre-covid days) celebrating life, bravery and self-love. Here's an excerpt from an interview with Marika from 2019, edited with some new insights from 2020.
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Tell us about where you grew up.
How did you get your start in your career? Why did you decide to start your own line?
I studied fashion as a second career after hotel management. I did some short courses while studying in Melbourne Australia Tourism and I fell in love with fashion design. I convinced my father to sponsor me to study again but this time fashion design in London. After graduation, I landed a job as a senior designer for Vanessa Bruno Paris, that job only lasted one season. Then I tried to get work but it was very hard because I was Mexican and finally I gave up and came back to Mexico about 12 years ago.
First, I worked as a fashion stylist for advertising and as an image consultant, I did try to get design jobs but everything that was in the market didn’t pay as good and it required a lot of traveling, I didn’t want to spend my life in traffic. After so many design job interviews I decided I had to do my own thing or I was not going to design ever again, that’s when I started Marika Vera in 2010 with an ambitious and naive plan, a silk luxurious lingerie line. The first 4 years required two jobs, I was lucky because I didn’t have to pay rent and I could work in my house/office but I was working all the time. I was making little money of it but was trying. In 2014 after a not so positive business partnership but a breaking point in the brand I started Marika Vera as it is today, a lingerie, bodysuits and ready to wear line for the everyday of the sensual woman of today.
Who is the Marika Vera woman in your mind?
Is a woman from 25 to 50 years old, this women appreciate design, have a positive relationship with their bodies and live in the main cities around the world. She uses Marika Vera in special occasions then she will realize she can reuse it in regular situations like sunny holidays, business meetings or friends casual night out, she knows she will feel sexy, strong and people will notice.
Tell us about the team you work with. How important is the feminine voice when it comes to coming up with designs?
After COVID, we are 10 people in the company plus the factory, we are 9 women and one man. I like to empower the team I tend to ask for their opinion when it comes to design and overall fit, but the starting point ideas come from me but also we make a lot of decisions based on sales records.
Your line is produced in Mexico City. What do you love most about the city? And what would you like people who may have false pre-conceived notions about the city, know?
The city was happening before COVID, still there is a lot of creativity coming from Mexico City I am lucky to be surrounded by creative friends who are passionate about what they are doing and they are all creating amazing stuff. We are a very cosmopolitan city, full of amazing chefs and restaurants, amazing hotels and a rich culture on architecture, design and what’s more important and ancient history.
What you learned about yourself during your battle with breast cancer.
I learn that I could die and I should be able to find balance between the way I look after my body and my mind; how I split my time between work, travel, family, friends and my dog. I also learned that we need to leave things to destiny if something goes bad it was meant to be, there’s so many ways to get to the same place, one full of anxiety and frustration and another way is breathing and trying to stay at peace. I am trying to remember this all the time when I take decisions or when I am in trouble, nothing like having your health at risk.
How did your journey battling the disease inform your designs? Did you find that it changed your approach etc.?
I have implants now, I think this is going to have a positive effect on fittings. I was happy to wear my clothes specially my lingerie after my mastectomy and to sleep in, it gave me support but also felt softer on my delicate skin. I also felt happy that I could still wear my Patricia Sport bra and my Elsa jumpsuit out while in chemo, it made me feel sexy.
You talk about reclaiming your sensuality. Why was that important to you and how did you manage to do that? What are some of the ways someone who went through the same thing do just that?
I’m still trying to reclaim it, loosing my boob, loosing my hair, loosing my baby skin was hard; but I make sure I touch my new boobs everyday and try to connect with the sensitivity I still have left. I am also focusing on recuperating my libido and being more on the imagination side of myself rather than in the hormonal side (because chemo stops your hormonal activities and kills your libido). I also tried not to stop my life completely while having my treatment, I will still go out dancing and I will still go to work, that help me cope with the process better, I only let myself fall when I felt really sick. But keeping busy help to be more patient about symptoms and not so focus on them. I’m trying to dress sensually, excersize and eat healthy everyday.
What can we expect from the line in the near or far future?
Swimsuits I just finished designing the first collection. And our Spring Summer is a very soft
Comfortable and sexy leisurewear collection, we are working with organic cotton and also some neon selection. The best part of the collection our new tracksuit pants very 80’s inspired and ideal to stay at home and go out feeling special.