After taking a week break for Thanksgiving, I’m back with the next installment in the It’s Totally a Real Job series.
This week I’m talking with Mari Ruiz, who is the founder and brains behind the amazing and Geekie Award nominated fashion line, Sent From Mars. Not heard of Mari or Sent From Mars? Chances are good that even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ll recognize some of her work–like her BB-8 inspired bag, her Hedwig-inspired wristlet, or her Boba Fett-inspired bag. Mari’s bags are completely adorable, and are a chic way to bring your favorite fandom into your everyday wardrobe without walking around with a giant logo on your purse. Unsurprisingly, Mari caught the attention of the Geekie Award panel, and was a nominee for the 2015 Geekies. I’m obsessed with purses, personally, and I love the bags you can get at Sent From Mars. I’m so inspired by the way Mari was able to carve such a unique space for herself in the fashion world, and I can’t wait for you all to meet her. So let’s chat with Mari!
What gave you the inspiration to start creating geeky bags? Have you always been interested in fashion design?
Necessity! I love to “wear my heart on my sleeve” surrounding myself with the things that I love! Bags are something I carry daily so they were the perfect item to customize. I have loved adding my own spin on my clothes since I was a kid making outfits for Barbie ; )
How long have you been making geeky bags?
I have been making bags of all shapes and sizes for over 10 years now and have started really infusing them with my geeky passion this year.
You also do a ton of DIY projects. Do you have a favorite DIY that you’ve done?
This is tough! Its definitely a tie between the Real Life Concrete Thwomp and the Giant Yoshi! The Thwomp was a real challenge and was a project I knew I could bring to life without any idea exactly how, he keeps me inspired to test new ideas! And the Giant Yoshi….well….he’s a childhood dream come true! I have been blown away by everyone who has made one of their own and shared their stories with me, this has definitely been the most rewarding!
Were you surprised at how many people loved your bags, or did you expect that there was a big market out there?
I am incredibly excited+surprised+thrilled to see that people are sharing the same passions that I love! Designing is what I truly love to do!
What was the biggest challenge in launching Sent from Mars?
The first step of just going for it!
How long were you planning and dreaming up launching Sent from Mars before you actually launched your shop?
Having my own shop is something I’ve wanted since I was a kid. When I decided to focus on bags the idea finally starting coming to life and it was a few months before I listed my first one!
Do you run your shop and make your bags on your own, or do you have help?
Yes! Right now everything is 100% made by me ; )
What has been your favorite purse design?
Oh this is hard! I’ll go with the Pizza clutch, it was the first geeky bag I ever made, one of my favorite foods (in the top 2!), and inspired by my favorite kind of pizza!
You were nominated for a Geekie this year. What was that experience like? Were you surprised to find that you were a finalist?
I was so surprised to be in the finals! I watched the nominee announcement on a live stream and was so shocked to hear my name, I couldn’t believe it! I had thought of entering for a while and actually submitted my work on the last day so it was even more exciting! The experience was amazing! I made a lot of new friends and was introduced so many awesome people!
Where would you like to see Sent from Mars go in the next few years?
My long term goal is to build a brand : ) The bags are definitely just the beginning for me! I would like to (and am working towards) offering the whole package of clothing and accessories and creating an experience that people can be really excited about!
What has been the coolest thing you’ve experienced since launching your shop?
The feeling that my experience may help someone take the steps towards pursuing their dreams!
What advice do you have for other aspiring fashion designers out there?
Be yourself, do what you love, believe impossible things, and do them!
Thanks so much to Mari for taking the time to talk about Sent From Mars, and I hope it inspires you to start making that crazy dream in the back of your mind a reality. Be sure to check out Mari’s website, grab yourself an amazing bag or two (or ten, I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life) from her Etsy shop, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Also, Don’t forget to check out the other amazing women I’ve spoken with (like the Geek Girl Brunch founders and Melificent) in the rest of the series, and stay tuned here every week for another women who proved success doesn’t always come in a cubicle. And if you want to continue the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #RealJob.