Odalys Marino: Fashion from Rags

Bare hands grappling at scraps of fabric while struggling to stay afloat with the Cuban economy, Odalys Marino took guidance from how her mother dressed during times of poverty and sewed her way into the fashion industry.

Marino struggled in a poor atmosphere growing up. With little to no money as she grew up, Marino decided to move to the U.S. at the age of 36, hoping to provide her children with a better future.

Travelling to the U.S. was not easy, especially with zero dollars in your pocket, yet Marino made it work.

"I worked in the morning at a medical office part time in accounting. In the afternoon, I worked in a beauty salon, and sometimes in the night, I was cleaning," Marino said, describing her daily routine.

However, Marino had bigger dreams for herself and hoped to make a name for herself as a renowned fashion designer. Marino eventually started a small boutique in Tampa Bay, Florida, nicknamed after her mother: Nory’s Fashion Boutique.

Marino’s mother had passed away when Marino was young, but Marino never forgot the unconditional love and support her mother had given her. To honor her mother in her work today, Marino also incorporates elements of her childhood clothing in her haute couture. In many runway shows, she has sewn pieces of potato sacks, elements reminiscent of her childhood days in Cuba, into the collar of her designer jackets.

Giving back to her community, Marino continues to give back to her Cuban community and still provides those who can not afford a luxury lifestyle with clothing. Her goals in the fashion industry seek to highlight and appreciate diversity. For instance, during her first fashion show during the 2019 NYFW, she hired transgender models of different ethnicitys and genders to model her clothing line.

In the future, Marino hopes to open a boutique specifically made for her designs. Marino pursues her career in fashion with deep passion and compassion to help uplift marginalized people who have big dreams and goals, hoping to repay the support she was given in the past.

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