Every morning Mary Coronado, 59, wakes up and smiles. She proceeds to say a little prayer for herself, her loved ones and everyone she doesn’t know. Mary treats every single day like a holiday. She wears her fanciest dresses and does her makeup and hair — emphasis on ‘every single day’.
“Life is how you make it,” she says.
Coronado is known for being everybody’s aunt. When she meets new people, she immediately asks them to call her Tía Mary ( or Aunt Mary).
“I think that I was sent to this world to be everybody’s aunt,” she says. “I don’t even remember who my original nieces and nephews are anymore!”
Tía Mary’s story begins in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. She lived a normal life until the day an unknown disease caused her to lose her ability to talk and walk. Mary’s family lived in a very small town with limited medical resources and she never got a diagnosis.
“Up until this day, I don’t know what hit me,” she says. “I had to learn how to walk and talk again. Literally start from zero.”
After Mary started talking and walking again, she decided to give the American dream a chance, and in 2002 she arrived in San Antonio with her husband.
Now, you may be asking yourself, how did Mary end up becoming everybody’s aunt?
Well, Mary’s passion is making piñatas. For a long time, she made them exclusively for her nieces and nephews. “I think God takes control of my hands and that is why my piñatas are so amazing,” she said.
Mary never really thought of this passion project of hers as a business, until the day she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2014. “We had to start paying for doctors and medical treatments, so I told my nieces and nephews that my piñatas wouldn’t be free anymore.”
And that is how Mary Coronado launched Piñatas Tia Mary.
“I never stopped making piñatas, even when everything hurt, I would stand up and say ‘not today cancer, not today,’” she said. “Ironically, that was the most difficult, but also the best year of my life.”
When Mary recovered from cancer, her piñatas had already gained recognition within the Central Texas Hispanic community. This is when a friend of hers invited her to join JUST.
“To produce more of my beautiful piñatas, I needed money to buy more supplies, so when I heard of JUST everything just fell in place” she said.
And while Tía Mary’s business took a downturn last year due to the pandemic, the intrepid entrepreneur learned how to use social media to reach her clients and Zoom to stay in contact with her JUST support group. The pandemic and the need for technology stressed her out in the beginning, but she came to realize that she was stronger than the obstacles.
“I have no time for negative thoughts, I shake them off, we have to be positive and move forward, only forward,” she said.
On a normal day, you can catch Tía Mary making piñatas in a sequin gown if she’s feeling elegant, or a hawaiian outfit if she’s feeling a bit more tropical. Her JUST group and clients describe her as the best aunt anybody can have and a charismatic leader they can depend on.
And guess what, if you just happen to need a cool aunt, Tía Mary is always looking for new nephews and nieces!