Fashion Entrepreneur, Designer, and Style Icon
January 1, 1980 – June 20, 2021
Mary Kathleen Genito Padua, known as ‘Mikka,’ was a fashion entrepreneur, designer, and style icon, who helped usher in fashion e-commerce in the Philippines with her successful venture Seek the Uniq.
She was born in Bacolod City to Jerry Bancolo Genito and Teresita De Leon Galicia. She attended the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod for her elementary and secondary education, graduating in 1998. She then moved to Manila to study at the De La Salle University, graduating in 2001 with a BS in Commerce degree, specializing in business management.
Mikka always knew she wanted to be in the business of fashion. She was first a store manager for Mango, then a merchandise manager for Jewelmer and then Luxasia, and in 2005 joined The Ramp Crossings as a buyer for their women’s apparel and accessories collection. All these were her entry points into the business, where she learnt not only the nuances of the latest styles but also the nitty-gritty of merchandising it.
She relocated to Singapore in 2008 to support her husband Mitch Padua’s career working for Yahoo! Southeast Asia. Her daughter Mischka was born in 2009. In her blog “A Mischmashed Life,” she talked about the coexistence of motherhood and style.
When they moved back to the Philippines, she realized there was an unfilled niche in selling fashion online, and in 2010, she co-founding online retailer Chicify.com, where she was managing partner until 2012.
Padua became a senior buyer for e-retail company Zalora Philippines that year, where she learned everything about e-commerce. After a year, she realized there was “a gap in the market—there was no curated, lifestyle-driven online destination in the country.” She left the company to establish Seek the Uniq in 2013, where she held the title of “Commander-in-Chic.” Over the years, she earned a reputation as an e-commerce guru and a style icon.
In 2016, she landed on the elite list of Preview’s Best Dressed. In 2020, Metro declared her the year’s Most Stylish. She was also cited by Tatler Philippines as one of the 400 Leaders of Tomorrow on its GenT List for 2020 for her contributions to local fashion.
In 2018, Mikka was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite her illness, she led an inspired life. Her Instagram account had over 16,000 followers who considered her a trendsetter.
She acknowledged the devastation of cancer: “Life as I knew it fell apart in one fell swoop,” she told Metro Style in a 2019 interview. “I didn’t cry as I heard the news, I squeezed my husband’s hand and immediately felt sorry for him and my daughter. Never mind me, I’ve lived a good life, but them, they’re all I could think of. They need me… [But] I’m very grateful that I was able to make something as great as a cancer diagnosis into something more positive. Most especially on treatment days, or infusion days, I would dress up! I’d be in the hospital and everyone would be like ‘Wow! Where are you going?’
Her influence and vision in local fashion are her legacy and this was felt through the outpouring of tributes from both friends and strangers when she passed.
Her Seek the Uniq family said it best: “Mikka didn’t always have a lot of words, but where she had no words, she had a heart that was always full of courage. We’re not just talking about her battle with her sickness, but something far bigger: the courage to live life to the fullest each and every day, making even the smallest things beautiful, purposeful, and ‘uniq.’”