Forging Space for Self-Care in Honduras

Ent Spotlight: Mariela

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Entrepreneur Mariela Sierra calls Puerto Cortes, the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras, home. This is also where her business, Bella 360, operates.

For Mariela, a trained beauty esthetician, self-care is holistic. Mental and emotional wellbeing are just as important as taking care of your skin. This mantra is the driving force behind Bella 360, a spa she opened three years ago with her sisters.

When Covid-19 forced businesses to close their doors to in-person services, Mariela weighed her options. At the time, she had a small clothing boutique attached to Bella 360. The rental lease for her business, coincidentally, was also ending. Mariela and her sisters decided to close the spa for the time being and took their boutique online.

More than two years later, Mariela relaunched Bella 360 after recognizing the need in her hometown for a place of rest, relaxation, and self-care.

Mariela’s message of self-love and care, and its importance, comes from what she observed in her immediate community in the thick of quarantine. She noticed that women around her, particularly mothers, were stressed. “Moms weren’t just full-time employees. They were full-time parents. And full-time spouses.”

Motivated to make her spa a place where women could recharge, Mariela incorporated meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises into its offerings. She said, “We’re looking [to care] for mental health in one way or another.”

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Around the time of her relaunch, Mariela’s girlfriend found a MicroMentor ad while scrolling through Facebook. Mariela had new ideas for the spa, and she knew there was untapped potential in social media marketing.

Mariela immediately signed up, hoping she might connect with a mentor who could provide advice on best practices for building Bella 360’s online presence: “Even though I have had Instagram since the beginning [of my business], I never really understood how it functions or how to design my page.”

When she read Mary Gomez’s profile on the platform, Mariela knew she had found a great match. Shortly after, she reached out to Mary and their mentoring relationship began. Mary, a Colombian mentor, specializes in coaching. She understood Mariela’s vision for Bella 360 and, together, they tackled social media branding.

In a time when digital marketing is a key contributor to small business success, Mariela now feels confident taking ownership of her business’s online presence. She interprets analytics, optimizes the stories feature on Instagram and Facebook, and curates her posts. Through this process, she’s learning how to create a distinct visual message for Bella 360.

Mariela said that through mentoring “I learned the skills I hoped to learn and much more.”

Mariela and Mary continue to work together. Mary is reviewing Mariela’s business plan proposal for a grant she’s applying to through a private university in her hometown. The scholarship is awarded to an entrepreneur whose business is having a positive impact in the community.

In the future, Mariela would like to add a yoga studio and small shop to Bella 360. She’ll need to make many more decisions as an entrepreneur – financial, marketing, to name a few – and she’d like to use mentoring as a way to draw from people with professional business experience.

“People like Mary, who offer mentorship, are updating every day on those kinds of skills as I am updating myself on skin treatments. Someone is going to ask for my advice about those kinds of things, just as I need to ask for advice about things that I don't know and are not my strong point.”

Since 2008, MicroMentor has supported 37,300 meaningful connections between entrepreneurs and mentors, just like Mariela and Mary.

“People like Mari, who offer mentorship, are updating every day on those kinds of skills as I am updating myself on skin treatments. Someone is going to ask for my advice about those kinds of things, just as I need to ask for advice about things that I don't know and are not my strong point.”
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