Cio Soler is a Latina living an incredibly unique life. The Peruvian has dazzled professionally, impressing the fashion world and navigating the most exclusive global political circles. Cio was Maurice Marciano’s partner for years (the co-founder of Guess). Later, she got engaged to one of the most powerful real estate entrepreneurs in the United States and Donald Trump’s right-hand man during his presidential term, Tom Barrak, who also frequents the billionaire list.
Although some of her partners have not been exempt from controversy, Cio consistently remained discreet and in the background... until today. “I’m tired of someone else telling my story. I want to do it myself.”
Facing personal adversities, which included the death of her father and broke her heart, she fell into a deep and lengthy depression. Renewed, empowered, and independent, Cio is now shining with her own light and restored strength. Her latest project is Sita 1910, a private boutique that will open its first public space at The Peninsula Beverly Hills on August 1st.
Exclusively for HOLA! USA, this creative force, philanthropist and a woman of exquisite taste, Cio opens her heart like never before, telling us about her incredibly fascinating journey throughout an exciting life in which no question was has been left unanswered. Don’t miss it!
“I’ve sat with many great leaders, I’ve traveled the world, I know a life of luxury without limits, I have fascinating stories. But the reality at the end of the day is that we are all just human, and vulnerable. Whether they were celebrities, people of great wealth or powerful- on every level, everyone is carrying a cross and while money and fame can bring any east to life, happiness is not necessarily included.”
I am a passionate and righteous woman, extraordinarily empathic and very sensitive.
My Father was an engineer and a businessman. He was in the seafood business and worked tirelessly his whole life with an unparalleled work ethic. I never saw him take a day off. I lost my father in 2019, my first love and greatest heartbreak.
My mother and father met when she was 17, he was 9 years her senior. She was a beauty queen, a happy go lucky personality, outgoing and loved by everyone.
My grandmother had impeccable style and grace. She owned the legendary Karamanduka, Lima’s go to restaurant for the elite. I learned so much of what I know watching her and my mom.
My father however had a challenging upbringing- vacant of the love a child needs and emotionally put to work at a very young age. He had a tough love approach with and held us to incredibly high standards. He was wise, intense and brilliant. He had no interest in a social life or small talk. He dedicated his life to making sure that we were educated not only scholastically but also globally. Unlike my peers, growing up in California, there was not much I was allowed to do. I now understand his extreme efforts to protect us and honor the value system he worked so hard to instill in us.
I am third in the lineup of four siblings. Growing up the only girl, was not easy. My brothers we’re overachievers and graduated from the finest universities here in the US. I know that was my dad‘s proudest accomplishment.
I was always a visual learner and artistically driven. Although I was the apple of my father‘s eye, my learning differences and independent driven choices were always a tug-of-war between us. While my brothers were bringing home 4.4 GPAs, I was bringing home the best dressed award.
It took me decades to understand that I learned different from my peers and my brothers. It was not easy growing up without the support and tools I needed to highlight my strengths. I never did well in a common place or structure, I excelled when I was hands-on and out in the world. I´m grateful that today we are able to recognize learning differences and special talents in children.
I always dreamt of falling in love and finding my place in the world. I was always a deep thinker and never felt I fit in. If Tiger Beat was the it magazine, I wanted Vogue. If my friends were crushing on Corey Haim, I was thinking of Julio Iglesias. I always had big dreams but not the support or understanding I needed at home or in school. It was a different era!
Age is just a number. It’s your soul that defines your “age”. I’ve experienced great love with men 30 years my elder. In some cases, believe it or not, I felt I was the older one in the relationship: the homebody and the organizer. I understand the stigma that comes with dating older men but frankly, what others think of me, is none of my business. My response is “who guaranteed you 100 years”? In life there are NO guarantees. Who is to say a tragedy cannot take away your partner of the same age at any given time.I believe in true love and not wasting a day. Honor what you love and don’t worry about 40 years from now. Love is an action verb.
At first, I was intimidated and felt judged. But I never questioned my truth. When I realized that the criticism was not coming from the people I love and respect- all of that just became noise. Rarely have I met someone who criticized me who was happy with their own life or self. Take away the material and luxurious aspect that came with my relationships and nobody would care. That tells you a lot about the people talking.
I understand that I’ve lived a “big life” and that my journey came with experiences few people get to live. I am humbled not driven by this. I am grateful.
“One common trait between my exes and my father was that nobody ever gave them anything. They came from nothing and worked for what they had. Self-made!”
I always felt comfortable in older age groups. When I would try to fit in with my peers and like the same things- I failed miserably. I hated concerts and going out. I was always a homebody and best in smaller groups. I was never attracted to the fast life. I had no interest in partying or being cool. Dating, no way. I often chose a juice over a cocktail but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a glass of wine or champagne toast!
I was always surrounded with brilliant minds. It’s inevitable that I would be attached to intelligent men. I never dreamt of being famous or a celebrity. Under the radar and behind the scenes felt best to me. I was comfortable in a supporting role with men who were extraordinary in many ways and whose lives I was able to not only fit but enhance.
There is a beauty to having an age difference. There is a world of wisdom and knowledge that fascinates me and that I highly respect.
I´m aware of the fact that my father’s strong characteristics shaped my view and standards forever. He prepared me for excellence- but excellence is rooted in truth in compassion. When you grow up with a father like mine, a personality that was unforgettable and powerful- you are likely to seek the same or maybe the opposite traits in your partner.
I was always in awe of my partners superhuman abilities to do it all. They had impeccable work ethics, great intellect and vast experience.
I lost my father in 2019 and never had the chance to understand his footprints until the end. I now see the big picture and forgive him for not having had the tools to express himself without fear. There’s no doubt that a girls first love is her father and that a difficult relationship with him could leave you longing for that love and guidance.
One common trait between my exes and my father was that nobody ever gave them anything. They came from nothing and worked for what they had. Self-made!
“It’s not a science to navigate a social life but frankly, it’s not fun. When your heart lives in a genuine space, these scenarios can feel like a lot of work. Intuitively, I always knew who were the lifers and those who would come and go based on my relationship status.”
Today, I can say I have the most incredible friends. But it took me decades to understand what defines a true friend. I had to go through many trenches to get it right. My father always said: good friends are few and far between.
It’s not a science to navigate a social life but frankly, it’s not fun. When your heart lives in a genuine space, these scenarios can feel like a lot of work. Intuitively, I always knew who were the lifers and those who would come and go based on my relationship status.
I thrive in smaller settings and profound conversation. All that comes with a big social life is of no interest to me. I encountered my share of women who network only within their husbands status and whose identity is dependent on who they are and what they do. These women were never my real friends. And if contact was lost - I never felt I lost anything.
This is not judgement- just an observation that feels like a blessing. To be connected and able to recognize when you’re in the same room but not on the same frequency. Yes, I have had many stabs in the back and some of them hurt deeply. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
I have endometriosis. Having a child was never going to be easy for me so I became comfortable with the idea of creating a family with a partner who already had children. A peaceful blended family which can exist if your partners past has been healed.
My advice for women like me is to beware of the road ahead. It’s bumpy. Your partner needs to have his relationships in a good place in order for you to build. This was not my experience and therefore very hard on me.
When the coparenting scenario is not transparent, one can easily find themselves in a battle that doesn’t belong to you. Especially if your partner does not have your back. This was by far one of the most painful learning lessons of my life.
I would love to see more women support each other in these circumstances. Unfortunately, this was not my experience.
“True love does not have to hurt like you live in hell.”
Despite the men I’ve been in love with and how it may look from the outside, I was all in. My love and intention was deep and sincere. I never questioned my love or level of devotion. Though it took a lot of time and reflection, I worked at finding the gratitude and staying in it.
I know that many people live their lives never having experienced true love. I have. Was my life unconventional by social standards? Yes. But I cannot regret the journey because it was the hardest times and the lowest lows that shaped the strong woman I am today.
Unresolved trauma. Most of us carry some degree of it, so we learn to cope by avoidance and naturally we seek to bury the work that heals those wounds by filling the gap with something else. In my case, it was work and relationships.
After years of hard work and debilitating depression, I’ve come out the other side with a better understanding of the source of my pain, my past relationships and unexpected loss of my father.
Embracing full acceptance of who I am and that the first source of love comes from within, has allowed me to honor my values and live peacefully.
The past years have had many highs and lows, I would say my lowest point was in 2019. I had reached the limit of angst and confusion, experienced such a deep sense of betrayal and humiliation. I felt unheard, misunderstood and with a very low self-esteem. I felt like I was a teenager again though I had worked hard at becoming the solid woman I knew I was. I paid a heavy price for not pursuing my own dreams and instead stepping into those that belonged to others. Focusing on my accountability in these difficult times, the codependency I had developed… That was something I could change, the rest I could not. The experience forced me into a space of working at that piece that I had to own. It was the most difficult and dark experience but it was inevitable for me to hit rock bottom so that I could break through the very things that were holding me back. One must love and accept oneself before loving someone else.
The hardest part for me to accept was not having paid attention to the signs that were there. Having made excuses for things that were by no means acceptable, but that my fear of abandonment kept me in a place of acceptance. I was settling. I was still in the mindset that I was built to fight as hard as it took to support my partners. I confused unconditional love for having weak boundaries. I was still trapped in the mindset that our cultural and social pressures put on us: the being married or having children completed us. Another eye-opening experience for me was learning that love is an action verb. It’s not written in the stars; it lives in respect and true love does not have to hurt like if you are living in hell.
I would first say that we must eliminate this idea of finding or having our other half. There is no such thing. You have to be one with yourself before you can coexist with a partner. I would advise women to never put their dreams on pause for those of someone else. That a true partner will be your greatest supporter and watching you spread your wings. There is no therapist, friend or man that can fix or save the parts of you that are difficult to face and that require a lot of inner work to recognize. To be accountable for your actions and decisions is the first step in healing.
I am Peruvian. Like so many Latin women, we are filled with passion and love. I am dedicated, affectionate and incredibly attentive to my partner… I’m also very sensitive which enabled me to always be in tune with their needs. It’s true my partners had options, but genuine options is a different story. I suppose you would have to ask them but since you’re asking me: I would say that it is my ability to nurture and be tender..
They were brilliant, very confident and personalities that had lived many lives, they were leaders. Their magic was their madness, they were not ordinary… Their determination and pursuit of me was not easy to ignore either. When a man wants you, he will come and get you.
In my opinion, there is nothing fresh about dating men your age. This is a social stigma because we all have a soul age and we should be free to pursue the space in which we feel at home. In my situation, the dynamic I experienced in my relationships was my comfort zone. I only remember one time where I was not fully in love, and that person was indeed my age. I learned a lot from that experience.
These experiences have brought me tremendous perspective in this life. I’ve had opportunities to see firsthand what most people have to read about or study. I feel blessed to have had this exposure instead of trafficking in the noise of gossip or assumptions around subjects and people. I learned only to form my opinions based on what I saw with my eyes or heard with my ears. I saw a lot of things that look different on the outside than they did on the inside… My best experience to help me sharpen my intuition and really tune in to energies and not titles for social expectations.
I’ve sat with many great leaders, I’ve traveled the world, I know a life of luxury without limits, I have fascinating stories. But the reality at the end of the day is that we are all just human, and vulnerable. Whether they were celebrities, people of great wealth or powerful- on every level, everyone is carrying a cross and while money and fame can bring any east to life, happiness is not necessarily included.
We evolve and friends will come and go, but your true friends stay the same. My real girlfriends have been anchors through the storms. Those that needed something from me or that felt I fit into their perspective of who they were… Disappeared. And I never pursued them. You can’t lose what’s not yours. My experiences I’ve taught me discernment. I’m not a fast friend.
This isn’t a title I dreamt of, but also not one that I would turn away from. Given the opportunity to have a platform and serve my country in a space where I can provoke change and bring important subjects to the table would be an honor and a privilege. It would come with tremendous pressure, a challenge without doubt… But there’s not much I’m afraid of these days. I am flawed and human, but I live in my truth and I won’t wait for a platform to be the change I want to see. We can all be leaders just in the way we choose to lead our daily lives.
I can finally say the 2022 is the first time I have felt free and liberated of the girl inside me that looked elsewhere for her strength and love.
Truth is, I no longer romanticize love and relationships. I don’t dream of a man. I dream of a life that is purposeful. Should there be someone out there for me, he will have great integrity, excellence and humility. I believe in love and partnership. But I believe you need to love yourself before you love another. I don’t worry, seek or search… God has a plan for me.
Indeed, fashion and creation was always my passion. I knew early on that the academic road would be difficult for me. I loved to work and learned many skills working from a young age, my first internship was at Quiksilver and then just like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, I packed my bags and moved to Paris. Though I continue to study abroad, I felt the best education was being out in the world.
It was in Paris that I learned to speak French. I wanted to work in Fashion. I saw so much talent but couldn’t connect to the vibe that came with this industry. My heart would say yes but my body would say no. I felt dimmed by the illusion of what it was. It was very much like the devil wears Prada and my heart is too sensitive for that. Frankly, my dream was to establish a beautiful home life and build a family.
With leftover scraps from repurposed designs, I started an exclusive card collection, Jolie Vie- when I couldn’t keep up with the handmade applications, I hired an illustrator and began designing witty greeting cards that were picked up by some of the best stores in the country. One day I was asked to design the official invitation for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Seek in Los Angeles. That job opened me up to a world of branding and marketing… I knew how to communicate to the consumer and bring visuals to life. That is when my marketing agency, SixSevenStudio was born. I worked with many established and emerging brands in the fashion, beauty and luxury sectors incubating their needs to surface or resurface in the marketplace. Creativity always came naturally to me.
I was working long hours and quite occupied with my business when my fiancé at the time, Maurice Marciano, one of the creators of Guess, asked me to consult with him for his brand Marciano - it was about a year into the relationship, a role that eventually became Creative Director. I was wearing many hats from marketing to design- I embraced the challenge as if I was part of the family business. My work ethic and focus never shifted, in fact there is more pressure to perform when your partner owns the company. Maurice and I worked countless hours and began our days at 6 AM. I am forever grateful for his mentorship. I learned a lot working with Maurice and the team.
Peace and presence. A state of peace and presence allows me or anyone to flourish. I wish now to pursue the dreams I’ve had on pause: my children’s books, my passion for real estate and my visceral connection to the art of fashion. My new entrepreneur adventure is Sita 1910: a pure manifestation of my journeys and an opportunity to retell-retail.
Having been in the business for so many years- my dream was to create a space that brought together designers from around the world, the best of each country in one space for women to have options that are unique and for creators to have the support they deserve from these platforms. Set a 9010 as a private showroom in Los Angeles, it’s a labor of love. I have a social approach, it’s not about consumption it’s about building a wardrobe, it’s about defining your style and empowering designers that I was so blessed to meet around the world. Offering creators a chance to meet my world, my city and the many incredible women that travel through here.
Despite the rocky roads and treacherous journey through self-discovery, today I feel peaceful. I feel calm and practice gratitude daily for the new beginnings. I feel stronger and surrounded with love. I’ve learned to let go which is a far stretch from where I was.
My new approach is how I choose to live my life each day. With peace and presence, in the space to connect with people, recognize when someone’s in need, to be generous and to contribute as best I can. My priority is my next chapter, creating one that defines my true purpose.