Gina Rosales - Make it Mariko, Entrepinays Summit, UNDISCOVERED SF
Gina Rosales is a woman doing it for the community by celebrating life, the culture, and women. Hailing from the SF Bay Area, Gina began her career in the nonprofit sector followed by years Google X, but a family tragedy and family commitment to living life led her to founding Make it Mariko Events— a company to help you celebrate milestones and meaningful moments in life. Soon after Gina and friend Desi Danganan founded the Filipino creative night market UNDISCOVERED SF in Soma Pilipinas in San Francisco. The monthly events would draw 8000+ people to celebrate Filipino American culture. As an entrepreneur and PInay, Gina noticed she only knew a handful of other Pinay entrepreneurs, which led her to create Entrepinays “an online community of Filipina/Pinay entrepreneurs (aka #Entrepinays) dedicated to building sisterhood in the hustle.” Entrepinays is about sisterhood, connection, and uplifting the future generation. Gina is doing beautiful things and has plenty for us to look forward to including UNDISCOVERED SF beginning July 20 and the Entrepinays Summit Oct 5-6.
Make it Mariko Events, Founder & Owner
Entrepinays Summit, Founder
UNDISCOVERED SF, Co-Founder & Event Producer
Website and social media:
How did you create your career path? And was being an entrepreneur something you had always wanted?
Phew that’s a doozy to answer! For anyone who really wants to know the founder story of Make it Mariko, I encourage you to watch my Lightning Talk at Entrepinays Summit 2018 here and read this blog here about me quitting tech. But the short answer is: No, I NEVER thought that I would become an entrepreneur growing up. My career path was one full of unexpected detours, shortcuts, and long patient trails. Early jobs consisted of hostess at a high end restaurant, teaching gymnastics to kids, and teaching afterschool dance programs to high school youth. I then ran my own nonprofit organization, Funkanometry SF Dance Company, which was award-winning and internationally recognized. I ran this 501c3 while I was still a Junior at UC Berkeley studying Philosophy. It aged and matured me beyond belief, and I had to grow up really fast. But I’m so thankful for that experience -- it was my first lesson in true scrappiness. Learning how to figure shit out, make it work, and hustle for the first time.
I then went on to work at other nonprofit orgs, then got a job at Google as a contractor in Recruiting. I worked hard and proved myself, got converted to full time in 8 months, then ended up staying at Google / Google X for 6 more years! I initially thought I’d only work there a year. But every year I kept growing, getting new roles that challenged me. I was the FIRST Administrative Business Partner on the Self-Driving Car team (now known as Waymo)! It was such a freaking cool job, and I learned so much, even working alongside Google’s Co-Founder, Sergey Brin, as well as being the EA to Megan Smith, a badass lesbian tech leader who went on to become the CTO of the White House!
During this time at Google, my first cousin Jonathan, died by suicide in a really tragic and unexpected way. It rocked my entire family to the core and fundamentally changed the way we looked at the world. Jonathan had died, and we were so hurt by it, but we didn’t want his life to be lost in vain. We all pledged to live our lives more fully, because he wasn’t able to. It inspired me to start my own business and go part time at Google X so I could run it. 2 years later, Make it Mariko was so successful and busy, I decided to quit X and go full time with my company. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What challenges have you faced in growing your business, Make it Mariko? And what are some important lessons learned?
In general, the hustle life is hard. 2018 was my first FULL TIME year with Make it Mariko. I was so worried about not making enough money after quitting Google X, that I took on as much work and events as I could. By the end of the year, I had produced 30 FULL EVENTS! That is a lot! I accomplished it, but it was one of the most stressful years of my entire life. I had frequent panic attacks, and was constantly stressed. I truly learned my “limit” and vowed to never get there again.
This year, my challenge is scaling my business by growing my team so I can take on more clients. It’s really hard to find the right fit of people who get your business, get you as a person, and are generally amazing to work with. But I’m so thankful to have found amazing team members who fit all 3 :) I’m constantly dealing with new challenges when it comes to scale, but as Marie Forleo says, “Everything is figure-out-able.” It’s true. My other big lesson is that you can’t do this shit alone, and you shouldn’t try to. Everyone needs a team behind them to be successful. As a hyper Type A person, it was a challenge. Once I was able to let go and delegate, it opened up doors to so much more for my business, and my sanity.
What are some favorite events that you have produced?
I’ve had a few events that I’m truly proud to claim! First is of course UNDISCOVERED SF - the Filipino creative night market in Soma Pilipinas that I Co-Founded with Desi Danganan. This event literally was born out of an idea I pitched to Desi after he wowed me with a Powerpoint presentation. “Let’s throw a launch party for Soma Pilipinas! More people need to know it exists,” I said. A year later, we had birthed a monthly night market that launched to over 8000 people and had a line around the block to get in :\ It was insane and took on a life of it’s own. Now we’re going on our 3rd season. It never gets easy, but it’s always amazing and empowering and oh so worth it. I’m so proud of the impact we’ve made, and the bigger picture vision we have for the community.
Next favorite event is definitely Entrepinays Summit. This one hits really close to my heart as an Entrepinay myself (pinay entrepreneur). I started the summit because when I started my business I only had 3 Pinay entrepreneur friends to look up to. I had major Imposter Syndrome, and doubted my abilities. Entrepinays Summit is going on our 2nd year now, and we are a huge community and growing filled with empowered pinays who want to help each other grow, and grow community. The sisterhood is beyond belief, and I’m so proud of where we are building. I want young pinays to be able to know about us, and see a different path for their life that they may not have ever considered. Because pinays are SO fucking strong, and we literally run shit: in our families, businesses, and communities. It’s about time we join together for good ;)
How do you stay motivated?
It’s not easy, but I always try to remember the bigger picture:
- Why I do this work
- Who I do this work for
- What we’re trying to achieve beyond just one event
- The impact we want to make on the world
If you focus on the bigger picture, and have a goal and vision that is beyond just yourself, you will always be successful and be able to find motivation to keep pushing. It also ensures that your focus is based on building outside of just yourself, and bigger then just making money. Focus on making an IMPACT.
What was the inspiration behind Entrepinays? And why did you start that community?
I started Entrepinays summit because when I started my business I only had 3 pinay entrepreneur mentors to look up to. I had major Imposter Syndrome, and doubted my abilities. I asked myself “Who am I to start this business?” I’ll never forget what my mentor, Irene Duller, told me -- “Who are you NOT to?!” I wanted to build something so that EVERY Pinay would have someone to look up to. Where they could easily find videos online that show powerful, Pinay women doing big things. Where they could see women who look like them running shit. So they could feel PROUD to claim Pinay.
Entrepinays Summit is going on our 2nd year now, and we are a huge community and growing filled with empowered pinays who want to help each other grow, and grow community. The sisterhood is beyond belief, and I’m so proud of where we are building. I want young pinays to be able to know about us, and see a different path for their life that they may not have ever considered. Because pinays are SO fucking strong, and we literally run shit: in our families, businesses, and communities. It’s about time we join together for good ;)
How did the Entrepinays Summit go? Do you have favorite moments from the event?
It was AMAZING! So so many favorite moments, but here’s a few I’ll never forget:
Doing the initial prayer circle with our planning committee and speakers, and having my Mom and Auntie there to support me. I cried during the prayer circle, and we hadn’t even opened doors yet!
Doing my Lightning Talk at the beginning of the day for the whole audience talking about my cousin’s suicide and why it inspired me to create my business. I cried again lol
Having Ate Allyson do a talk on ‘Entrepinayism’ and putting larger context to our movement and why it’s critical.
Eating amazing food prepared by all pinay chefs!
Hearing Board Member Glenda Macatangay give an answer to a young pinay who was worried about having to raise kids on her own. After the question was asked, Glenda took a minute to really sit in her thinking, and it was the MOST POWERFUL minute of silence watching her gather her thoughts, to which she then replied “We were built for this. And no one in this room is going to let you do this alone.” TEARS were shed EVERYWHERE. Watch the full clip here.
The final circle with all attendees calling ancestors into the room, and vocalizing their hopes for the future.
Seeing young pinays in the room, even babies, and hearing people say they wanted to bring their daughters/nieces/young ones to the event next year to be inspired!
How has the Filipinx American community come out to support you?
I’m just so amazed at the support we’ve seen from all our events. I can’t even explain how powerful it has been to see community come together for such good. I’ve never felt so welcomed with open arms, and appreciated before in our community. Every month people come out and support. And all our artists, businesses, chefs, entrepreneurs, leaders, musicians all come out too. It’s the whole community, having a party, celebrating life. Exactly what my goals are with Make it Mariko :)
Year 1 of Undiscovered SF we featured a photo opp wall with a large graphic that read “Proud Filipino American”. Seeing people take photos with it made me proud. Because so often as Filipinx Americans, we are often made to feel like we’re “not Filipino enough” because we don’t speak Tagalog, or don’t know where our parents came from in the PI, or aren’t brown enough. But eff that. Our whole message with Undiscovered is that EVERYONE is Filipino enough, in just being Filipino. Even if you’re a quarter, or half, or whatever % Filipino. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
You mentioned Endeavors Collective, can you share more about it?
We are a group of established POC creatives that do collaborative events together! This is my event fam, and I love them so much. They have my back in every large production we do, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The whole goal is to support local talent, local artists, who really are pros in their craft, with a focus on people of color. Our big goal for the next 5 year is to open our own venue in Soma Pilipinas to continue to support community, and do events together. We’re currently working on finding investors for this now, and we’re committed to finding a building we can BUY and OWN. We need to talk more about owning our own space in the Bay Area, as too often people of color don’t have access like that so are always at the mercy of landlords and crazy rent. We need to own more space in general.
What do you love about the work that you do?
#1: the people.
I’m so thankful for every single person who has believed in any vision I ever had, and followed me along for the ride. I would be NOTHING without my amazing team who is behind me and supports me, and let’s me cry on their shoulders.
#2: seeing my visions come to life. creating something out of nothing.
I often wouldn’t think of myself as being creative because I wasn’t an “artist” in the traditional sense. But I am creative -- I just create by means of experiences, and interactions, and design. People design. It’s extremely satisfying coming up with an idea in my head, and seeing it come to life at events. It’s a magical feeling :)
Do you have upcoming events or projects that you are excited about?
Yes! Entrepinays is happening again October 5-6 in San Francisco. We’re doing monthly meetups until the summit which you can check out at www.entrepinays.com/events. We’re about to launch speaker submissions, as well as a membership campaign so join our email list to get in the know!
UNDISCOVERED SF is also coming back this summer July 20th! Mark your calendars and follow us on Instagram or our mailing list for deets.
And I’m really excited about some other potentially big projects coming up for Make it Mariko :) We also have a mailing list haha which you can follow at www.makeitmariko.com.
Photos courtesy of Gina Rosales