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FROM PUEBLA TO NYC Lilia Martinez Proves You Can Do It Too

Today, adidas is a globally-recognized brand, but it wasn’t always. Throughout the 1920s, it was a small-time operation betting big on the dream of Adi Dassler, a cobbler and inventor from a small town in Bavaria, Germany. Since then, the Brand with the Three Stripes has led the charge across sports, fashion, and culture. Along the way, adidas has found new homes and cultivated a sense of community far from Dassler’s washroom in Bavaria.

Lilia Martinez, a 27-year-old from Puebla, Mexico, has done the same. Having spent the last five years in New York City, the content creator has been far from home for some time. Yet, her new environment has granted her the opportunity to not only experience personal growth, but also help others find their own voice, style, passion, and confidence. 

In collaboration with adidas, Sneaker News chose to highlight Lilia for the current winter season. The recent New School Master’s grad brought us along for a typical day in her life as a “Mexicana en NY” (as her TikTok bio reads), which includes a cozy morning at home with her Maltipoo, Lilo; work sesh at her local coffee shop; and 5k run alongside the East River. 

All of Lilia’s looks are available via adidas.com right now.

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Lilia wasn’t always a morning person, but a former boss once shared some words that have stayed with her over the years: “The only time you own is the time before work.” Since leaving her role in Communications for a political organization in 2022, she’s been able to dictate her own schedule. During the week, days typically begin by 7am and with a run throughout Manhattan.

Moving to New York was a huge change for Lilia, but it was partly fueled by a longtime desire to belong. Although she was born in Mexico’s east-central state of Puebla, Lilia spent much of her formative years in Guatemala. Her father worked in the hospitality industry and chose to relocate his family when Lilia was beginning school. Finding a space in which she felt at ease was difficult–and largely never came–but a young Lilia found solace in the arts. Dance, fashion, and photography helped her express what she couldn’t inside the classroom and let her play into her “otherness”: if she knew everyone would wear a certain color, she chose to wear a slightly-different shade to further stand out. 

Fast-forward twenty years later, Lilia still champions self-expression, but her platform is no longer her local dance studio or hi5 profile. Since 2020, TikTok has been her stage. In three years time, she’s amassed more than two-hundred-thousand followers and five million Likes on the popular social media platform. Life in New York City as a 20-something-year-old Mexican woman continues to be a focal point of her content, but she also shares style tips, her running journey, and personal anecdotes with her audience, which largely consists of Spanish-speaking millennial women from Mexico and nearby countries. As Lilia heads into 2024, she wants to use her social channels to shine a brighter light on the not-so-glamorous parts of life in an attempt to portray it as authentically as possible. She’s experienced first-hand the impact her content can have on the lives of strangers; being candid about her struggles, then, could help someone confront their own battles.

Change continues to be difficult for Lilia, a self-proclaimed “over-thinker.” An advocate of therapy, she’s come to understand her emotions a lot better since her days feeling out-of-place in both Guatemala and Mexico. Bonds with her parents and siblings have also become stronger over the last five years, which have proven instrumental to her move to New York, return to school, and pursuit of a career as an independent content creator.


Working in politics was enriching, but the monotony of a nine-to-five within politics made her long for more creative work. Although scared to leave the stability of what many would consider a “dream job,” Lilia took a leap-of-faith in 2021 when she applied for a Master’s in Media Management and began a podcast. The latter helped her vent and connect with a piece of her that couldn’t come out at work, while the former would help her obtain the tools to understand the media landscape in a foreign country.  


Through her own trial-and-error, Lilia has already put what she’s learned in the classroom into practice. She feels as comfortable as ever in front of the camera–something she first noticed upon borrowing her father’s camcorder to reenact the Cheetah Girls trilogy as a young girl–but she also enjoys letting her work live independently from her. She hasn’t begun a blog, but would love to explore the written world. Her time at The New School allowed her to connect with this art form, which her impending role with a creative agency will allow her to further hone. A champion of community, Lilia is also looking to highlight others moving forward. In even the briefest interaction with her, she’s vocal about how friends and family have been pivotal to her success thus far. This spirit of gratitude helps Lilia remain grounded and pay it forward.

“I cannot stop talking about running.”

“I cannot stop talking about running.”

Before settling in New York, Lilia didn’t run. She recalls being one of those students that “didn’t hear” whenever her gym teacher ordered the class to jog. How, then, did she end up running two half marathons and the New York Marathon in just two years’ time? She thanks former roommates who suggested signing up for the Sleepy Hollow Half as a New Year’s resolution for 2022. Admittedly naive on her part, training for the hilly race revealed how strong she was mentally. Exploring the sport of running also helped her connect with an uncle that helped plant the idea of New York back in 2012. Lilia and her family visited “La Gran Manzana” more than ten years ago to cheer on this uncle as he raced the city’s iconic marathon. Hurricane Sandy, however, caused the race’s first cancellation in its 42-year history.

A teenage-Lilia didn’t know it at the time, but she’d one day return to live in the city she had only previously known through Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and Chica indiscreta (Gossip Girl in the U.S.). In a full-circle-moment, she also ran the New York Marathon in 2023 a decade after her uncle’s race was canceled. Despite being a content creator that has consistently showcased her relationship with the sport, Lilia chose not to film during her first marathon in order to be present during all 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles) through a city she’s fallen in love with (and in). Following her race, however, she celebrated the moment with her hundreds-of-thousands of followers across Instagram and TikTok, sharing a takeaway from the experience: “Never doubt what you are capable of doing when you set your mind to it.”

Since her first foray into the sport, Lilia has become one of its evangelists. “I cannot stop talking about running,” she laughingly shared blocks away from her old place-of-work on the cold Friday morning before Christmas. “I tell people all the time, ‘it’ll help you not just in the physical aspect…it will make you a different person mentally. A big part of [running] is about what you’re thinking and the attitude you have [while doing it].”

Lilia’s message is as much about running as it is about life in general. The discipline and perseverance that she’s needed to run in pouring rain, on early weekend mornings, and through the third quarter of her three races thus far have translated over to her day-to-day. Feeling a lot more fulfilled professionally has helped her acclimate to New York, but the routine and community that she’s gotten through sport have also been important to her life away from family and friends in Mexico and Guatemala.


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Days after Lilia invited us to see how she typically spends time in New York City, we asked her a question many people in her position have pondered: Do you consider yourself a New Yorker?

“It’s a weird question, honestly. What does a ‘true New Yorker’ mean?,” she shared via a WhatsApp voice note. “I think in some aspects I am–I’ve become more adapted to the city as I’ve been five years here now, but I think it’s a broad question.”

Lilia’s initial response isn’t uncommon amongst those who find themselves far from the familiar, whether by choice or circumstance. Interestingly enough, she proudly claimed the “New Yorker” title in his first year of living in the U.S. as physically she was now in the city. “More time” will allow her to broaden her perspective on what constitutes a “New Yorker,” she says. “I’m a Mexican finding her spot in New York. I think we’re all New Yorkers in some way, but there’s some heritage from home that’ll always make you different, in a way.”

New York City will continue being home for Lilia for the foreseeable future. Big changes are already lined up for 2024, but Lilia is welcoming them with excitement. There’s no telling how anything will pan out, but the unknown also doubles as an opportunity to try something new, see growth in action, and continue to cement a legacy.

All of Lilia’s looks are available via adidas.com right now.

Follow Lilia on TikTok and Instagram @liliamas_.

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