La Respuesta is Navegando's version of the Proust Questionnaire, where we take a deep dive into exploring our similarities, our differences, and the stories that make us human.
My name is Mercedes Ortiz-Olivieri; family and close friends call me 'Cuchita'. I am a Boricua who's lived in the DC area my entire life; my parents moved here pregnant with me. Raised in Northern Virginia, I spent childhood summers with family in Puerto Rico. I'm a hairdresser and own Trim Hair Salon in Adams Morgan. The salon works with local non-profit organizations supporting women. Our mission of outreach is a concept that was written into our business plan, because it's extremely important to me. I recently co-founded DCheartsPR, an initiative to raise awareness and money for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. I planned a trip to volunteer my skills in a low-income community last spring, and am bringing several more hairdressers with me for a return trip in August! I plan to keep doing what I can to help the people of the island -- they're literally my family -- and they still need help. In our spare time, my husband, Jason, and I are fond of last-minute adventures and travel, we've been known to get in the car and find ourselves many hours away exploring. I miss mofongo, mallorcas, and piñón more than I care to admit.
Name: Mercedes Ortiz-Olivieri (aka: Cuchita)
Current age: 41
Current location: Washington, DC
What defines you? My lust for laughter, fierce loyalty, a faux-salty nature, and generous spirit.
What keeps you up at night? The million ideas I haven't written down.
What do you want the most? Skills and understanding, to better use my powers for good.
How do you handle loneliness? I have a restless personality so I keep myself busy. Depression is something i'm familiar with, and I find this difficult to answer because my mind can go to dark places quickly. But, many of us can feel lonely in room full of people, so I know I need to engage with people in a way that feels honest and real to me. I find joy in connecting with people, finding the different ways that we are similar, and discovering the common threads that bind us all together.
How do you feel purposeful? Helping people problem solve. Working with clients to find solutions not just to issues they're having with their hair, but also helping them through difficult situations in life. I've been through some of life's toughest times with many of my clients, and I respect the trust they have in me to share these vulnerable moments.
What do you do, when there is no one else around? I dance, a lot. Sometimes, I even sing.
What thing can you not live without? I've always struggled to answer the 'if i could only have one thing on a deserted island' question, ONE? Here's my best... lip balm, cuticle nippers, a flashlight in every room, and laughter.
What medium of art most moves you, and what work makes your heart sing? Dance keeps me captivated. I was a dancer when I was younger, and I kick myself for stopping my training so young, so I fantasize about being able to perform at a level as if I'd kept it up. The liquid movements of the human body can be mesmerizing.
And the music my husband makes, his talent fills me with feels.
Are you interested in telling your stories? Fill out the form here and we'll be add you to the list for future La Respuesta posts.