THE MNY SPOTLIGHT
Naomi Genota, Filipina Structural Engineer turned Entrepreneur
Meet Naomi Genota, a content creator and engineer from Los Angeles with a passion for traveling and empowering her followers in life and business.
Check out the inspiring philosophies that motivated Naomi's career change, her commitment to improving the lives of those around her as influenced by her Filipino upbringing,
and the Mestiza gowns that make her feel her best.
Read the full interview below!
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Naomi Genota, and I am a content creator & social media influencer based in Los Angeles. I'm passionate about empowering the modern woman to get out of her comfort zone, continually practice self-love, and live a lifestyle of purpose through creative story telling and actionable value. I love helping women navigate through life and adulting because nobody should have to go through life alone.
By trade, I am a structural engineer and project manager for the last 10 years. But on the side, I am also an entrepreneur, I run a small business as a digital media content creator that I am currently expanding into multiple facets like content creation, branded content, digital products and now influencer coaching. I’m also building an eCommerce business with a couple of multimillionaires outside of social media, whom I’m very blessed to have as mentors and business partners.
Co-founders Louisa and Alessandra bonded over their shared roots in the Philippines. Can you tell us a little bit more about your ties to the country?
I was born in Pasay City, Philippines and lived in Sampaloc, Manila for 13 years before my family and I moved to the States where my mom was recruited as an 8th grade science teacher in Inglewood, CA. I speak fluent Tagalog and most of my family still live in various parts in the greater Metro Manila, Laguna and Rizal.
What inspired you to start blogging?
Honestly, my Instagram grew on accident. I’m a HUGE makeup junkie, and in 2012, I started to post a lot of my makeup hauls on Instagram. Little did I know that there was a beauty community on the platform, and people started to look to me for recommendations and advice on beauty-related topics. I eventually grew that audience up to 36k and started a YouTube channel that grew to 15k.
Because I still didn’t see the potential of having an audience like that had, in 2015, I decided to take a step back from the influencer life to focus on finishing graduate school and gave my engineering career another shot and its time to shine.
When I traveled to the Philippines with my family in 2017, I had an epiphany. I realized how shitty corporate life was… that I worked my butt off to climb up the corporate ladder, make someone else rich… all for 2 weeks of vacation. I convinced myself I was helping people by being a structural engineer, and took pride in it, but I realized I WAS ONLY KIDDING MYSELF.
My real passion is to help people live a better life, and I know it goes beyond my cubicle.
So I told myself I would work as hard as I can and do whatever it took to replace my 6-figure career as a structural engineer and project manager. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but Instagram sparked it all. So I decided to grow my platforms again to where it is today, because I didn’t want to spend another 50 years “convincing myself” that I’m happy working for someone.
Today, I’m building over 10 streams of income, inside and outside social media. But above all, I’m incredibly blessed to be providing value and giving hope to other people who just need a gleam of positivity and a space of escape from all the negativity in the world.
How has your Filipina heritage influenced your day-to-day routine?
Growing up in a traditional Filipino home, I was taught to work hard, so it’s in my nature to always bring my A-game in whatever it is that I do. I’m a hustler, and I love just putting my head down and getting things done.
I was also taught to be generous and helpful. Bayanihan is a Filipino custom where people gather together to unite to achieve one common goal. This has definitely been instilled in me by my parents. I love helping people and making an impact more than anything in the world in any way that I can. And I love to pay it forward. I always make it a daily goal to impact at least one person’s life.
I also love to cook Filipino food. I live by myself, so I always tend to crave Filipino food more often than not. Especially with the pandemic forcing us to stay at home, I’ve learned how to remake all the food I grew up with: adobo, sinigang, tinola, nilaga, bistek, afritada, lumpia, sisig, tapsilog and more!
What does the word “Mestiza” mean to you?
The word mestiza actually had a negative connotation to me growing up. Although my sister and I are full Filipino, my sister is considered a mestiza in the Philippines because she is very light skinned (or maputi, we’re 2% Spanish according to 23andMe). I’m morena, so I get dark very easily by just being in the sun for less than an hour, so I’m quite the opposite of my sister in skin tone.
I grew up resenting the word “mestiza” because although my sister and I 100% blood-related and my parents treated us the same, other people treated us differently. My grandmother called her “her favorite” because she’s her only mestiza grandchild. Aunts and uncles favored her more for her skin tone and it took a toll on my self-esteem for most of my childhood. I spent a long time working twice as hard just to get the same “favor” or not get derogatory remarks for being morena.
It’s not because my family is horrible, but it’s because it’s mentally and culturally instilled. 300 years of colonization equals generations of the mindset that the only way to be treated equally to white people is to look like one, act like one, or marry one.
It wasn’t until I moved to the States that I learned about colorism and microaggressions in my own culture. Today, I’ve learned to embrace being a woman of color and being confident of who I’ve become and what I’ve overcome because of it. I made a conscious decision that this generational curse and decades of offense from the word “mestiza” stops with me.
I’m very humbled to be a woman of color blessed with a platform with a predominantly white audience because I have the opportunity to advocate for all people of color and educate my audience on social issues and anti-racism.
What are some of your favorite aspects of Filipino culture?
I absolutely love how hospitable Filipinos are. Like when my non-Filipino friends come over to my family’s house, they leave feeling like they’re a part of the family because it’s in our nature to make our guests feel like they’re right at home with comfort food, good conversation, fun activities and lots and lots of stories!
I also love that Filipinos are big on family. I’m very close with my family and I love spending time with my cousins, nephews and nieces as well. I think nowadays, having a support system like that is essential, and I wouldn’t have survived everything I’ve gone through without my family. My mom, dad and sister are my biggest supporters and I’m very grateful that they have my back no matter what I decide to do in life.
I also love that Filipinos are generally very happy people. Traveling to the Philippines made me realize how much I was taking for granted and how I was worrying about so many things that don’t really matter because there are so many Filipinos who don’t have much, but they are still living life to the fullest and filled with joy!
Do you have any tips/tricks for aspiring bloggers?
Never stop being 100% yourself. Your authenticity is your BIGGEST asset in your journey, and the right people will stick around for what makes you YOU, and not who you’re trying to be. Don’t compromise your integrity for a profit. Never let your worth be defined by the metrics and the numbers. There is always room for improvement, you just have to make the decision to nurture your strengths and keep on going until you push that boulder to the top of the hill.
What draws you to the Mestiza brand?
I absolutely love the couture style of Mestiza and how their selection really embodies the elegance and class of the modern woman, but brings the inner wanderlust from within. I truly admire that this NYC-based brand is inspired by vintage photographs of the designers’ mothers and grandmothers. I also love that the pieces are made of architectural silhouettes, bejeweled encrusted embellishments, iridescent ivory tassels, ornate laces and layers of hand woven silk cocoon from the Philippines. These things are definitely what I would keep in mind when creating my own brand--I pay homage to my family and where I come from.
What are your favorite Mestiza pieces?