A few words come to mind when describing the heartfelt spirit of Mari: wife, mother, cancer-survivor, Dior, generous humanitarian. Mari says she is still MADLY in love with her husband of 22 years, Reginald. Together they have two beautiful children, Jonathan, 26, who has a Masters in Forensic Mental Health and Jillian,15, a sophomore in high school who intends to study medicine. Mari, herself, graduated from UCLA and has been working for Dior in the Merchandising Department for Cosmetics and Fragrance for the past 15 years. Specifically, she handles the Dior merchandising and visual for all the Sephora stores in New York City. The day we spoke, she was gearing up for New York Fashion week and preparing for the Dior pop up store at the Oculus Mall, by the World Trade Center, for the latest Dior fragrance launch! Mari is required to wear all black to work and be in “Dior” uniform — i.e. hair pulled back, bright lip, full Dior make-up — and this year, Mari will be wearing her black Dior pants with her black Laurie Felt Cross-over top — Mari says she is honored to take Laurie Felt to New York Fashion Week!
“I work in a very vain environment,” Mari shares. There is immense pressure for the women to look very “high-end” and spend a lot of money. But Mari knows that money alone doesn’t buy beauty. She says, “I walked into the meeting in my Laurie Felt Ombre jeans, a white V-neck tee, a little St. Tropez self-tanner and my Valentino nude shoes, and everyone immediately asked where I got my jeans!” Mari says that even some very expensive garments are made cheaply and only look good on a size 0….but not Laurie Felt jeans! Laurie’s jeans are beautifully made and look good on everyone. Mari believes you should buy what you want, wear what you want and feel comfortable in your own skin. You shouldn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on jeans to feel “good enough.” Mari is Latina — and she has a booty that she’s proud to rock! And, Laurie’s jeans hug her curves in only the best way!
On a personal note, Mari shared that she is a Melanoma survivor. “It was super scary, but they found it early,” she says. When she had the first spot removed, they had to dig down five layers of skin and put in 25 stitches to remove the cancer on her right arm. Three years later, they found another spot on her thigh. Today, she remains cancer free , but never goes in the sun, and swears by St. Tropez self-tanner from QVC!
What speaks to Mari most, however, is the humanitarian work she does for underprivileged teens through a youth ministry called “The Revine.” Mari’s entire family is involved with the ministry which puts on bi-monthly events for teens who are bussed in from the the inner city (the Bronx, Downtown Brooklyn, Washington Heights…). The events are focused around biblical themes, and motivation speakers are brought in as well as social workers and entertainers. It is here that these kids find hope. Mari teaches them that they are more than their environments. These kids return time and again and many have, subsequently, gone off to college (Mari’s son, Jonathan, even helps with their college applications).
Mari, you have such a kind and generous spirit! You are so inspiring, and we are proud to call you a Heartfelt Role Model.