Profile: Vicky Mariano, Clark Student, '08
A current hot topic in higher education is the problem of college binge drinking. Although a large amount of research has been done on this issue, Vicky Mariano, a senior at Clark, felt that not a lot of action was actually being taken. Since the eighth grade, Mariano has been throwing alcohol and drug free events to find out if young people were offered fun alternatives to drinking, would they participate in them? These early events paved the way for Mariano’s business, Spiritual Haze, which she has recently launched through the Innovation & Entrepreneurship program’s capstone class along with three classmates, Shahzad Godil, Bilal Anwar, and Wei Che Cheng.
Spiritual Haze is a hookah lounge, cafe, and arts & entertainment venue (both visual and performance). Space will be available for people to host their own events, as well as private parties. Mariano plans on having a dynamic events calendar with activities organized by her staff and the community. These will include live music, open mics, comedians, weekly poker tournaments and more. The staff is comprised of almost all Clark students, and the cafe will be run and operated by an I&E alumnus, Asher Cowan.
Mariano said she has had this business idea for a long time, but taking part in the I&E program at Clark has really helped her get it off the ground. "It's really helped me develop my own ideas and structure them more. Working on this project is setting me up with the experiences I need to achieve my long term goals," which are to open a similar business in her hometown. Mariano, who is following the I&E track in her Management major, said she did face a variety of challenges along the path to launching her business. Before opening, they hosted a few private parties which helped her realize what she still needed to do to be ready for the public. But now she is excited to have the doors open and is already looking ahead to the next steps in the evolution of her business.
Spiritual Haze is located at 482 Park Avenue in Worcester. Hours are Sunday-Wednesday 3pm-11pm and Thursday-Saturday 3pm-2am