By: Dr. Francesca Vazquez
Our featured inspo for today is Maria Consuelo Santiago ( or Macu ), the co-founder of Olivia Boutique in El Condado district in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Olivia Boutique is a women's apparel store catering high end brands with a relaxed luxury vibe. You can find everything from distinctive designer sandals to eclectic statement jewelry.
If you have a trip to Puerto Rico planned or are looking for an impeccable outfit, don't doubt in visiting this perfectly designed boutique, located just a mere 5 minute walk from the beach.
We got up close and personal with "Macu", giving you a glimpse into this entrepreneur/business woman/mom's daily life, journey as a business owner, workout routines, hobbies and lifestyle tips!
When & How did you decide to open Olivia?
It was 2012. I had just finished completing my master's in Art Business in London UK and was working on my thesis. I moved back to Puerto Rico and quickly, thereafter, traveled to Los Angeles for my first buying trip. I remember spending my nights at the hotel finalizing my thesis while working on the business development of Olivia during the day.
My background is in Art History and Art Business but I've always been passionate about fashion. I could never find the pieces I was interested in while living in San Juan, PR and quickly found a niche market that wasn't catered to. My mom has a background in fashion so we decided to launch a luxury fashion boutique and combine our strengths.
Where did the idea or inspiration to name the business Olivia come from?
We wanted our store to be innovative and buzz worthy. It was launched around the same time influencers were the up and coming movement in the fashion industry. They had just begun to take center stage at fashion shows around the world. We wanted the name to represent the women we were styling: empowered, real, independent and ever-changing. We played with Chloe, Zoe & Olivia as possible names for the business and ultimately decided on Olivia.
How would you describe Olivia's style & concept?
Currently, Olivia's style and concept is contemporary with an edge and a little bit of humor. I don't like to take things too seriously when it comes to styling and I like to have fun with it. There's almost a theatrical component to Olivia and you can always find unexpected pieces and combinations.
What is your favorite part of owning a fashion boutique?
It's a never ending challenge. The industry keeps evolving and it gives you a lot of creative freedom. With time, you keep feeding your ideas with inspiration and have complete control of the direction you want to take. I love that I have my own freedom to design the kind of business I want to lead.
Where is your favorite "business trip" travel location?
Paris. Although, all my trips could be considered business related because they're where I do the research and get inspired. I always end up buying a few pieces and experimenting with them. Based on feedback and how I feel in them, I am able to incorporate new & different styling pieces into Olivia.
And for pleasure?
Probably St. Barths & Rome. St Barths inspires much of our relaxed luxury vibe. The women in St Barths perfect the carefree dressing attitude. The gauzy, airy mini skirt and top sets with broken in leather sandals and raffia baskets are the uniform. A look pulled in under five minutes because nothing is more important than getting to the beach...
And Rome has such a unique, feminine, romantic air to it. As you walk around Rome you can't help but notice the women. You see so much confidence in their stride and their street style. I am fascinated by their use of bold accessories and colors. They are the epitome of the strong, empowered women that we like to buy clothing for.
Your mom is your business partner, what is it like to work with your mom everyday?
It's amazing. She's the Yin to my Yang and we complement each other so well. She is very good with the administration and is able to execute our ideas seamlessly. I am more risky and creative. She brings me down whenever I go too overboard.
You recently became a mom yourself! How have you been able to balance the responsibilities of being a full-time mom and business owner?
It's been tough. And hard. But being my own boss helps in the sense that I have control over my schedule. My office is now a full blown nursery. I bring my daughter to work every day. I have no sense of work-life balance because, as an entrepreneur, your business becomes like a baby to you. You're always ON. It's hard to disconnect because when you're relaxed is usually when your imagination and passion is awakened. It's both good and bad because I am lucky to be doing something that I love so much but am aware that even on vacation, I am thinking of Olivia.
What are your favorite workouts?
Pilates and walking
When I was pregnant, I used to do a lot of prenatal yoga and loved it.
Where do you like to work-out? Any favorite studios?
I like to walk in Condado district and Old San Juan.
My favorite spot for pilates is Neu Pilates Studio.
For yoga, my go-to is Casa Yoga in San Juan.
Favorite health food spots in San Juan?
Pure Natural in Miramar for lunch and dinner. And desserts! Their budin is to die for.
Crush in Condado for smoothies.
Departamento de la Comida in Isla Verde for vegan food. They also have local vegetables and fruits for sale in their market.
Basico Jugueria in Ave. De Diego for lunch and healthy juices.
What do you like to indulge in?
Chocolate and Homemade Burgers.
What's your go-to selfcare action plan when you need to reconnect to your essence?
When I need to de-stress, I go to the beach or go out for a walk. I love to cook and find it soothing to chop up vegetables. There is something in repetition that I find soothing.
For pampering, my go-to is manicures and pedicures. Sometimes bubble baths, but not as much anymore.
Oh and I get massages but I hate them. I only do it because my mom says it's good for me!
Any tips for other women currently trying to juggle a career, a baby and keeping healthy?
Probably focusing on Nutrition. If you're really busy and can't get to your fitness classes, focus on the food you eat. I truly believe "you are what you eat". Food is my fuel and I quickly notice the difference in my mind and body when I eat something unhealthy or don't pay too much attention to my eating habits. I get a headache when I eat too much sugar and feel sluggish if I'm not eating my greens.
To juggle a baby and your career, probably my number one recommendation is support. Seek help with your mom, sister, cousin. Reach out to your friends and have your network. To have the support of good friends, especially those who are mothers too, is priceless.
We want to thank Maria Santiago for her collaboration! To shop or check out more on Olivia Boutique, visit: www.shop-olivia.com