Lava beads are her business and her message

From last rites to entrepreneur, Mona Saenz shares her small business story

After a life-threatening illness forced her from her stress-filled career, a San Antonio entrepreneur has made lava beads and essential oils her business.

SAN ANTONIO – Forget bling. Mona Saenz’s style is organic.

A meditation mala, with its 108 tiny beads and a beautiful stone, hangs around her neck, and a stack of striking stone bracelets adorn her wrists.

“All of our jewelry is made with natural stones and lava beads,” Saenz said.

Igneous rock — which once hot, molten volcanic lava — is the key to her company, Original EOB.

“We started with just one design, one essential oil bracelet design, and I called it an EOB,” she said.

Her jewelry line is designed to put a drop or two of essential oil onto the lava beads, which serve as natural diffusers.

“My business is all about empowering people on their health and wellness journey, and we provide the tools to do that,” Saenz said.

Her journey has come a long way from her corporate career in mortgage lending. She had to leave her high-stress job in 2012 when she was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder.

“I ended up in ICU for about a month,” she said. “They gave last rites, and they told me I wasn’t going home.”

Saenz credits her doctor’s holistic approach to her recovery. It took changes in her diet and time, and essential oils proved therapeutic.

“I went on a trip where I forgot all of my essential oils, and I really saw the effect of what not having this on a daily basis did to me,” she said.

That’s when Saenz started thinking about a way to always have her essential oils on her.

“That was my ‘a-ha’ moment,” she said. “How can I turn being home and my mess into my message?”

She decided to start making jewelry out of lava beads, natural stones and crystals.

“I just told my husband and my daughter, ‘I’m going to create this jewelry line.' And they’re looking at me like, ‘OK?’” she said.

Her skills in project management in her previous career came in handy, and so did social media.

“I put it on Instagram, and all of a sudden, it started taking a life of its own,” Saenz said.

Success didn’t happen overnight. Saenz said it took a lot of bootstrapping by herself and her husband and a microloan from LiftFund.

Her wares, which she designs and a team helps make, can be found at a few boutiques and spas around town, as well as inside Wrapped in Wellness at the Colonnade on I-10 West.

To others thinking about embarking a small business venture, she says, don’t be afraid when people tell you "no."

“It is absolutely very scary,” Saenz said. “But it is the most fulfilling thing.”

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.