MEET MARINA VARANO
VN: Marina, thank you for taking the time to be a part of H.E.R Page and BostonMan Magazine. You are an entrepreneur and an inspiration to many, and are involved in several different projects coast to coast. Tell us a little bit about your current initiatives and how they came to be.
MV: Thank you so much! First, I absolutely love what you are doing with this magazine column. It’s such an important message, and I am honored to be a part of this. So I started my brand, ABG, which stands for Always Be Grateful in 2020.
I had lived on the west coast for about 5 years, and I really started to pay attention to the different fashion trends compared to the east coast, which is where I was born and raised. In California, people really go for comfort over anything. They would rather have the base of the outfit be a comfortable pair of sweatpants, and build the outfit off of that.
In Boston, I never really felt we could do that. It was always jeans and a blouse, or a dress, to feel like you were dressed ‘appropriately’ at dinner, or any outing for that matter. I wanted to create a high-end sweats apparel line that people could dress up or down, depending on their occasion. With that, I wanted to tie in a very special message, about gratitude. I think in 2020, as the world was in a weary state, it was the perfect timing to instill such a message.
VN: Your family, obviously, has been a huge inspiration in your life. It’s clear a lot of your drive and determination comes from them. In what ways is this entrepreneurial spirit that runs in the Varano family reflective in your work and the passions you curate in projects?
MV: If you know me, you know my family is my everything! My parents have been together since the ages of 13 and 17, and truly built something from nothing. They are my idols, and that entrepreneurial side of me definitely stems from them. My dad always told me, he wanted to be his own boss, he knew he had it in him to create an experience that people wouldn’t forget.
In 2003, he opened his first restaurant, Strega, in the North End of Boston. As of 2019, he had opened 5 establishments. One being in a world renown casino, that was a dream of his since he could remember. In 16 years, he accomplished more than he had ever thought possible, coming from a mother who immigrated from Italy at the young age of 16. I truly live to make my parents proud, because without them instilling such morals in my brother and I, I really wouldn’t have the proper mindset to set out and accomplish all that I hope to do.
VN: How did you come up with ABG? Is this something you always wanted to do?
MV: My late grandmother, my dad’s mother, used to always say to my dad when he was younger ‘always be grateful.’ As I mentioned, she came over at the age of 16 with my father and didn’t know a word of English. She did all she could to provide for him, but barely making ends meet.
As any young kid would, he compared himself to other kids in school or in the neighborhood and would ask his mother how come he doesn’t have what they have. She would explain that everyone has a different story and background, your bad day may be someone’s good day, and materialistic things do not matter. She wanted him to be grateful regardless of life’s circumstances, especially the ups and downs that are inevitable.
With this, it was always a phrase my family would say to each other, truly keeping my Nonnie’s legacy alive. Spring of 2022 rolled around, and my dad and I were sitting outside having coffee, and we started talking about how we could turn it into a brand or movement. My dad and I love fashion and watching trends evolve, so it pretty much came together right then and there with a pen and note pad.
VN: How does everything you are involved with -from real estate to modeling/acting to the hospitality industry to ABG all flow together and create that level of distinction that makes you unique in who you are and what you do?
MV: I recently have recognized that people can do multiple things, which is why I love that you are shining a light on that in this column. People often think once they graduate from school, I need one job and it has to be corporate.
I want to encourage young adults to stray away from what we are taught it to be ‘safe,’ and really dive into what THEY want. What would you love to wake up and do every day? It may not be super realistic at first but there are ways to incorporate what sparks your soul into your daily life.
Even if something starts as a passion project you never know how soon it could turn into a business.
VN: When it’s time to rewind and relax a little, what types of things do you enjoy?
MV: In my free time, you can find me either hanging with my family, my best friends, or cooking/baking. I love making new things and having everyone come over to my place to try it. I love to go bowling and mini golfing as well!
VN: As a successful female entrepreneur balancing a multitude of projects and passions -both in business and socially- what advice would you offer to other women who are looking to do the same thing?
MV: I think it’s important to find what you truly love. Whether that’s an industry, a specific brand you want to start, or even utilizing skills that you may already possess.
I have seen so many young women recently hone in on what they feel called to do, whether that’s content creating, painting/artistry, or even e-commerce.
There are so many routes to success, so I don’t think there’s a correct answer on ‘how-to,’ but I truly believe if you are passionate enough about something, then you can make it come to fruition.
I also believe that a welcoming and helpful community of women is crucial. If you surround yourself with determined go-getters, then you are bound to be inspired and compelled to do the same. I would love to be a resource for any young women that want to create their own business of any sort. There is a lot of trial and error involved, which is to be expected, so if I can help even one woman get started and share my experiences, I would be so honored!
Victoria Nasuti created H.E.R Page – BostonMan to help tell the inspiring stories of women around Boston successfully having careers and passions at the highest levels! A published model and real estate professional herself, Victoria knows firsthand the challenges of performing your best in both a career and passion. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for the H.E.R Page spotlight, please send Victoria a message here.