The phrase cool mom gets thrown around a lot, but Mikaela Martinez has always been an epitome of the label before it was even a thing. From being the prototype “it girl” when she first started gracing the covers of famous teen magazines and transitioning into “it mom” when she had her first kid as a 19-year-old, Mika was always effortlessly cool—and, no, it’s not just about her outfits or how her nonchalant beauty stands out wherever she goes. It’s about how she carried herself through numerous ventures over the years: banker, entrepreneur, fashion stylist, international model, and content creator, when most folks would agree that being a mom is already a huge responsibility alone. (She has three kids, by the way!)
As we wrap up this month dedicated to mothers, Lemi talks to Mika about navigating her career in the age of social media, the things she learned from her kids, and how she used her online platform to overcome her hosting anxiety and advocate for secondhand fashion pieces.
How did you transition from modeling to being an influencer and content creator?
I joined Instagram eight years ago. Initially, I was posting random things, primarily artworks that my kids made; then, eventually, the app became a big thing. From commercials, my work shifted to social media. From doing VTRs and castings, now I’m creating content on my own!
How has being a model helped you as a content creator?
The most significant trait I brought with me was patience. When you’re a model, there’s a lot of waiting hours that sometimes don’t even lead you to a job. Now, it doesn’t matter that much. If someone else gets the job, it’s okay. It might not be meant for me. There’s so much room and projects for everyone in this world! I now invest my time doing valuable projects that I genuinely enjoy.
How has your content creation process been during the pandemic?
Right now, everything just doubled online! The events are at home, so you have to prepare everything at home. For certain projects, for example, sometimes they’ll send a videographer; but, now, even for an official YouTube ad, I had to do it all by myself! I thought that I already knew a lot about social media, but the pandemic made me learn so much more. It also made me appreciate every person’s job in the whole production, from the lights person to the editor. I do everything now, and the upside is that I have a daughter who teaches me because, if not, it would be so hard!
What’s the story behind launching your own IG Live Series, “Saturday Night Live”?
Hosting has always been a big fear of mine. I was always afraid to face people and stand in front of a crowd. I get scared even just reading a script! That’s when I figured that one thing that would help me improve is to go live on Instagram. It really helped me face my fear to talk about other people’s stories and not just focus on myself. I really saw the difference after a year. Even now, I’m just more open and less hesitant whenever I’m sharing my own stories.
Aside from being a model and content creator, you’re also a budding businesswoman yourself. Can you talk more about your most recent venture: a membership lounge?
So pre-pandemic, my husband and I wanted to put up a lounge and bar. We’re always meeting people for business and all, so we thought “Why not build our own place?” That’s when we started making it. It’s in Magallanes, right by the Skyway. The sunset there is so lovely! We have roof decks, and people love it there because of its open-air setting. We also have seven karaoke rooms, since Pinoys love to sing! When the pandemic happened, we were like, “What now?” We can’t go out to drink and see other people, and we’re in the middle of construction! As a businesswoman, it’s incredibly stressful because we still have to cover the rent and staff costs. Bars are probably the last place to open up, but we still have our hopes up because we believe that entertainment is a massive part of everyone’s life! We would always want to go out, celebrate, and have a drink with the people we love. Hopefully, when things are better, we can do that. We’re looking forward to opening soon!
How do you balance life as a mom and entrepreneur?
I honestly live by my phone calendar. I write down everything I need to do—even the mundane things such as calling somebody or sending a package. There are just so many things I have to do in a day, and if I don’t write it down, I’m going to forget! On some days, you’re busier with work and, on others, you’re more occupied with family. The upside of the pandemic is that I get to spend more time at home with my kids, even when I’m working. Every time my youngest son, who is 4 and clingy, asks me if I’m going to work, and I say yes, he knows I’m not going anywhere but in front of my computer. I like staying in and being productive. I want to achieve things daily because that keeps me happy and balanced.
What is something that you learned from your kids?
I feel that kids nowadays do so much more. My 17-year-old daughter is entering college next year, and with her, I learned that you could teach yourself to do anything. It’s like everything with her is self-taught; she learned how to take videos and edit them using professional editing software. She also taught herself how to play the ukulele and set up her room a certain way. Things like that, she had no tutor for those! When I was her age, we would always need a professional or tutor to do those things. My 12-year-old son used to be a part of a basketball team, but then it shifted because there’s no training. Now, he’s into gaming! I look at him whenever he plays, and I get dizzy because it’s just so fast-paced. He also just learned how to play on his own! I feel like kids nowadays adjust easily to adapt to the times. They know how to refocus, and that’s something I learned from them—not to feel defeated and pivot when the need arises.
You’ve always been an advocate of sustainable shopping; thus, the birth of mikaelamartinez.closet on Instagram. What’s the story behind it?
I started it because I have a lot of clothes from events that I’ve only used once. When I first posted them, they sold so fast! People started to ask if I had more stuff to sell. From there, I turned the page into a secondhand shop for items straight from my closet and household: designer clothes, furniture items, and even cars! It became a thrift shop because I’m always cleaning out. I don’t like clutter. I personally love buying secondhand stuff from my friends because, let’s face it, everyone loves a good deal! It’s also good for the environment, so I figured others might enjoy it the same way I do!
Tell us a bit more about the small business community you started over the quarantine.
I’m the type of person who will always find the opportunity in difficult situations. When the pandemic hit and everyone was staying at home, online shopping boomed. I started this small business chat community in our village, since there are so many residents who have businesses that we weren’t even aware of! Everyone’s into washing their hands so I started my own soap line called Mink Organic Soap. I would refill everyone’s bottles so it’s cheaper for them and more sustainable. The soaps are available on my Instagram shop and at Market Liberty PH, a store in Evia mall.
Learn more about Mika’s soap line and her other recommendations in her list of Quarantine Favorites here.