Hometown: Odenton, Maryland

Birthday: April 16, 1996

Height: 5’7

Is Mari Pepin really a Marketing Director?

Maybe—we’ll get to that later—but first and foremost, Mari is a pageant girl.

Mariela Pepin graduated from high school one year early, which doesn’t seem particularly relevant to her work history, but is clearly important to her because it’s one of her most commonly used fun facts.

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Mari started working at the front desk for a lash and beauty bar called Lash Moi in 2013, apparently while she was in high school. This may have been a strategic move on her part as a budding pageant girl.

Lash Moi is an official sponsor of Miss Maryland USA (winners get a year of lash extensions in their prize package) and appear to sponsor individual contestants as well. Remember “Lash Moi”—we’ll be bringing it up again.

Mari’s quest for pageant perfection has kind of a dark origin story.

On her blog, Mari writes about being bullied for being chubby as a girl.

“I had grabbed a few extra pieces of candy from the bowl when a so-called friend said to me, “Why are you eating more? That’s probably why your thighs are so big. Do they rub together when you walk?” Suddenly everyone was looking at my legs and giggling. I didn’t say anything, I just let it happen partly because of my low self-esteem, partly because I felt like she was right.”

That story honestly broke our hearts for poor baby Mari. She cites this experience as her entry into disordered eating with the goal of being skinny before leading her to becoming “healthy, beautiful, and confident.”

Mari won her first major pageant, Miss Maryland Teen USA, in 2014 at 17. 

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We hope when she was standing on that stage being crowned the hottest teenager in Maryland, Mari had her “Miss Congeniality” movie moment where she realized that she was fine all along and the real prize was the confidence she gained and the friends she made along the way.

But considering Mari went on to compete in a bunch more pageants and then on The Bachelor, we’re pretty sure that wasn’t the case.

From 2015 to 2019, Mari continued to work part-time at Lash Moi as their social media and event coordinator while continuing her quest for crowns. Considering the expense of pageant prep (spray tans, lashes, makeup, hair, gowns, etc), we’re sure that employee discount came in real handy!

Mari was in school during this time; she got her Bachelor’s in Communications in 2018.

She was also doing a little modeling and had a part in a straight-to-streaming movie.

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Mari hasn’t mentioned her acting past, which we’d assumed was because The Bachelor fanbase has a history of viewing cast members with acting aspirations as being there for the wrong reasons. After watching How to Get Girls, we suspect there are other reasons the movie hasn’t been widely discussed. (Warning—this clip is NSFW.)

When not giving blumpkins in movies, Mari engages in much less cringe-worthy acts of charity. 

Her pageant and website bios claim she “helped oversee” two different charity organizations, one donating permanent makeup services to people with medical conditions and one donating cosmetic surgery to veterans.

These charities are each associated with the businesses she was working for at the time so, without Mari providing any details, we don’t know how much her involvement extended outside her regular job duties.

After getting second runner up Miss Maryland USA in 2018, Mari won the title in 2019 and made it to the top ten of Miss USA.

For reference: Miss America is the pageant where contestants have to perform a talent. Miss USA is the one that used to be owned by Donald Trump and has a swimsuit portion.

Unfortunately, unlike becoming Miss USA, Miss Maryland does not come with a year of paid travel, so Mari had to hustle.

Mari began doing marketing for a plastic surgery clinic in early 2019 (they were apparently also involved in her pageant prep).

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She launched her own marketing company, Innovessa, in June 2020.

Who were Mari’s Social Media Clients?

Three quarters of Innovessa’s portfolio is from Lash Moi and the plastic surgery clinic. (Lash Moi has an associated beauty brand.) 

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If Mari wins Paradise Prom Queen, what will she do during her reign?

We’re not quite sure what’s going on with her marketing company. It’s no longer in good standing (she didn’t file an annual report with the state). Her clients are still updating their social media, but it’s unclear if Mari is still involved. 

We would hope not, because Lash Moi is using the wrong image sizes for Instagram and the plastic surgery clinic is now promoting vaginal rejuvenation with brown flowers.

We do know that Mari left her job with the plastic surgery clinic in July, right after she returned from filming Bachelor in Paradise in June. Why would she do that?

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Was Mari moving? Perhaps to Chicago?

Although Mari tags her clothing providers on Instagram Stories—probably because she got the clothes for free—we noticed that she hasn’t posted any sponsored content recently.

Is she expecting a follower bump soon? Perhaps the kind that comes with getting engaged?

If that does happen, Mari is prepared. She’s now represented by a company that manages influencers.

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The marketer has become the marketed. 

One thing is for certain, whatever else Mari does, she’ll always be a pageant girl. She’s teased a run at Miss Puerto Rico and the addition of a Puerto Rico travel guide on her website makes us suspect that this is something she’s been seriously considering.

New pageant guidelines require Miss Puerto Rico contestants to reside on the island for at least six months prior to competing.

If an engagement is coming, we hope that—Unlike Grocery Store Joe—Kenny is willing to leave Chicago.

xo Your Nosy Friends, Lovely Fifth Alternates

PS Fifth alternates don’t win scholarships. Please consider giving us a tip if you enjoyed this content so that we can continue our investigations. Aside from our time, reporting on Mari cost us 99¢ for the movie rental. We paid too much.

PPS Here’s a second clip from Mari’s movie!