Honoring Aruba’s Women Entrepreneurs! Happy Business Women’s Day 2016

chryslerAs we find ourselves entertaining the real possibility of the U.S. electing its first woman President it is clear that women’s roles in business have finally reached a point very close to our dreams of equality. Women’s contributions in science, business, space exploration, and government , are undeniable with prominent roles open to women, in all aspects of our business lives. As my partner, also a woman business-owner, and I walked briskly down NYC streets yesterday on our way to a networking event I was struck by a thought. Aruba Trip Tips has had the good fortune to work with many talented female entrepreneurs and many businesses in Aruba are woman-owned.
This is clearly a trend in Aruba we’ve been observing more and more each year.
The women business owners in Aruba that we have met, share qualities evident in their success–having a vision, defining a need and having the courage to solve that need. At Aruba Trip Tips, our mutual goal has been to enhance the experience of travelers to the island through information and services that save time and increase your relaxation at the destination. This has been a joy and a journey and through this, we have found ourselves growing as well.
So, therefore….on today, September 22nd , we celebrate Business Women’s Day !

We can’t help but ackbusinesswoman-453487_640nowledge the wonderful, female entrepreneurs in Aruba whose contributions to the travel industry are undeniable. Their entrepreneurial spirit should be commended along with their commitment, professionalism, and sincere desire to help people. It has not only caught our attention but has allowed us to see that extra puzzle piece which lends to the Aruba Success story.

Aruba Trip Tips has been honored to work with two professional women in Aruba who while having very different businesses, offer valuable and well-needed services to vacationers. In the case of these business owners, they have made it their mission to the elevate your travel experience through their own global stories.
We wanted to learn more about these remarkable women and thought that it would be interesting to get insight into their backgrounds. As travelers, we interact with many different people often never really knowing who they are but are always grateful for their care and kindness.
That is why it gives us great pleasure to introduce to you:barbulet-concierge-logo

Freya Kraag,
from 
Barbulet Concierge
http://www.barbuletconcierge.com

and

lock-and-roll-aruba-logoLiliana Gracia,
from 
Lock n Roll Timeshare Storage http://www.locknrolltimesharestorage.com/site/

They were kind enough to generously share some of their story of inspiration with us.
Today, September 22nd , Business Woman’s Day, is the calendar date which Honors women in Business and allows us to share with the world the recognition they deserve.

Freya Kraag, Managing Director,
Barbulet Concierge

freya-barbulet-concierge1. Are you originally from Aruba? If not, where were you born and what motivated you to come to Aruba?

I’m originally born and raised in The Netherlands, but both of my parents were born in Indonesia. So I’m not the typical blonde Dutch girl;) I came to Aruba 10 years ago after I finished the Hotel Management School in Maastricht.  During my studies, I did an internship at the Westin Resort (currently Riu Antillas) on Aruba.
I had an amazing time and learned a lot about the Hospitality Industry. I never been to the Caribbean before and I fell in love with Aruba during my internship because of the weather, the people, the ambiance and all the other reasons why people come back to Aruba. Since I did the Hotel Management School there were also a lot of job opportunities for me on  Aruba. When I came back from my traineeship I said immediately ‘when I graduate I will come back to work and live on Aruba’. Soon after I was graduated there was a job market from Marriott Aruba in Amsterdam where I got hired as a Vacation Planner. I packed my suitcase and went December 2015 to Aruba and never left.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I explained already a bit how I ended up in Aruba, but I will tell you a bit more about my myself. I have an adorable son Xennon of almost 10 years old and live happily together for more than 5 years with my boyfriend. I love to play beach tennis, go out for dinner, watching movies and the beach. Furthermore, I’m a person that is very social, enthusiastic, organized, focused on her goals and always looking for new challenges.

I’m in the hospitality industry for approximately 10 years. After working for a year as a Vacation Planner at the Marriott I was promoted to Executive Admin Assistant of the Marriott Aruba Surf Club and after 4 years I became a Front Desk Manager. I also worked for a year as Front Office Manager at an upscale boutique hotel, the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort and currently I work full-time as a Quality Assurance Manager at the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, one of the most popular low-rise hotels on the island.

3. Was it your intention to ultimately to go into business for yourself in Aruba? What inspired you?

It was not my intention to go into business for myself in Aruba.

I enjoyed working in the hospitality industry and it was in my first job as Concierge Agent that I realized how passionate I was about vacation planning and assisting guests making their vacation an unforgettable one. I turned my passion into a business and today assist visitors around the world with planning memorable vacation experiences in Aruba.

Personalized service and responsiveness are really important for me and those two things will differentiate Barbulet Concierge from other businesses.

4. As a woman business owner can you share with us some of the challenges you have faced? And what would be your recommendation for others who might be inspired by you and want to pursue a business in Aruba?

To be honest I didn’t encounter many challenges being a woman as a business owner. All my clients and partners do take my business seriously and treat me with respect.

I recommend for other women to just being yourself and don’t become the person other people would want you to be. Be confident in yourself and your business, don’t listen to other people’s opinions. In the end, it’s YOUR business and you make the decisions.

It’s also very important to start a business because you love what you do or have a passion for it and not just for the money or status.

If you still have a full-time job and your dream is to have your own business one day. Work on your plan in your free time, read articles, books and educate yourself. Take baby steps and set-up your company while having your job to have financial security until your business is making enough money to stop working.

Dream It, Wish it, Do it!!!

5. Would you say that your efforts as an entrepreneur have opened the door for other females in business in Aruba? And do you consider yourself a pioneer?

I do believe the doors were already open in Aruba. However, another female entrepreneur is always an extra stimulation for the community. Aruba is doing well with their successful female entrepreneur’s for example in Real Estate, Sales & Marketing Businesses, Event Planning, Magazines, and Clothing Stores etc. I also recently went to a ‘Woman in Leadership Conference’ which motivated female entrepreneurs and leaders.

I do consider myself a bit of a pioneer since Aruba didn’t have a professional Personal Concierge business. It’s kind of new here in Aruba and I see some similar businesses coming up, but no real competitors as yet. There is a great market for this type of business especially because staying at secondary accommodations (vacation homes, apartment complexes, Airbnb) is getting more popular.

6. What life lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?

I have learned a lot as an entrepreneur since there are coming so many new things on your pad.
For example, you need to have a plan to start a business, but your plan doesn’t need to be perfect in order to start. Your plan will never be perfect, just start with the basics and along the way you can fine tune it. This is exactly what I did by starting with offering the basic services on my website and bit by bit I added new services. This worked out for me.
I had difficulties to ask for money or to put a price tag on some of my services, I needed to do some more research or ask other business owners for advice. I was not used to asking money in return for my services so this was really new for me. Sometimes my prices were too low or too high but along the way you will find a balance and you can see what you are worth.
You also need to have a lot of patience since your customers need to grow with time. Don’t give up to soon. If something is not working be creative to find other ways that will work.

7. The name of your company is called Barbulet Concierge. Does Barbulet mean something in another language and why did you name your company that?

Barbulet’ means, butterfly in Papiamento, which is the main language spoken on Aruba. Papiamento was recognized as an official language in May 2003 and is derived originally from Portuguese and African and has influences of Dutch, English, Spanish and Indian. The business name Barbulet Concierge Aruba came from my love for butterflies and their symbolism, I also have a tattoo of a butterfly. They are deep and powerful representations of life.

8. What are some of your services that you believe that your customers seem to enjoy the most and why?

We offer a wide variety of Concierge services; however, our most popular services are hiring a Personal Chef and the Grocery Delivery Service.
Customers like the idea of having dinner in the comfort of their rental villa with family and/or friends instead of going out for dinner; it’s a different and unique experience.
The grocery delivery service is used a lot as well. Customers are saving their precious vacation time on doing groceries. They rather go to the beach and enjoy the sun instead of going to the Supermarket.

9. Do you have any long term goals with Barbulet on the horizon or additional services you plan on offering in the near future?

Currently I still have a full-time job as Quality Assurance Manager at Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, however, my goal is to focus full-time on Barbulet Concierge and having my own office where I can receive clients. I would like the company to grow and hire staff, being able to accept credit cards and that everybody on Aruba is familiar with Barbulet Concierge. I also would like to be more involved with large groups/events.
I’m always looking for new services that I can offer to Aruba visitors and keep my eyes open for the needs of clients.
I recently started to work with a proposal planner and a photographer which are also services I’m offering but are not listed on the website as yet.

10. What is one thing you would like to share with our audience that many people may not know that you feel that you would like to communicate to new time vacationers or return visitors?

I would like to share that we have now Live Chat on the website. Please feel free to contact me about your questions about Aruba. We are looking forward to assist you!

Liliana Gracia, Owner and Founder,
Lock N Roll Timeshare Storage

liliana-gracia3501. Are you originally from Aruba? If not, where were you born and what motivated you to come to Aruba?

No, I am not I was born in Colombia, we moved to Aruba back in 1983, my mother, my brother and me.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

> Since I came very young to Aruba I went to Brown School, then to University from Aruba, I have two kids a boy and a girl, and I am a proud grandmother of also a boy and a girl. I live with my daughter and granddaughter, we love to eat out, I love to dance.

3. Was it your intention to ultimately to go into business for your self in Aruba? What inspired you?

Well it is not a secret that I was in the hotel industry for more than 30 years, 23 of them at Renaissance, I didn’t imagine waiting there for a pension plan or getting older doing the same, I always said 25 will be the max, I was thinking about this challenge for a while, and I also think that is never late to start a new adventure, after all, this is a great and new service for Aruba.

4. As a woman business owner can you share with us some of the challenges you have faced? And what would be your recommendation for others who might be inspired by you and want to pursue a business in Aruba?

Well at first people said, people as a tendency to be pessimistic and say that Aruba is not going through the best financial stage, stores closing, higher rents, low occupancy etc…. I recommend all women out there to go for your dream, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t, is always worth it to give it a try, there is nothing to loose, is better than having the regret of what could a happen if.

5. Would you say that your efforts as an entrepreneur have opened the door for other females in business in Aruba? And do you consider yourself a pioneer?

Jajajaja no I don’t consider myself a pioneer, I think my girlfriends do admire my courage, I hope they see my success and they’ll be inspired by me, I know many women with great ideas, they just need to start and make it happen !!

6. What life lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
A lot omg, working for yourself can be even harder at times, you are always busy thinking and planning , it’s responsibility , but all at your own time!

7. The name of your company is called Lock N Roll Timeshare Storage. Why did you specifically name your company that name?

I think it’s catchy, it’s like we lock your items and you roll safely home! Something like that, also that’s why the Aruba lock.

8. What are some of your services that you believe that your customers seem to enjoy the most and why?

The bin definitely, the facility of not having to take back all their stuff and the peace of mind that their things are safe and well stored. I am also starting with beach gear rental, chairs, umbrellas, ice jugs based on my own customer’s requests actually–they seem to like the freedom of borrowing/renting  and not buying.

9. Do you have any long-term goals on the horizon for Lock N Roll Timeshare Storage or additional services you plan on offering in the near future?

Well only God knows perhaps other islands, we can always change the Aruba flag lock to Curaçao or Bonaire flag!  For now, I will keep it to bins storage and the beach gear rental, but we are thinking about some others ideas but nothing concrete yet.

10. What is one thing you would like to share with our audience that many people may not know that you feel that you would like to communicate to new time vacationers or return visitors?

I wish everybody to know that I am here ! That Aruba has this service,that you don’t need to feel away from home while vacationing , that you can bring all those special items and make yourself as comfortable as you can be, that you can also explore our island taking our items around for your comfort and enjoyment.
organizer-791939_640

In celebration of this day, both Aruba Trip Tips is honored to share with our readers a unique interview with both these courageous ladies. I would encourage everyone to click on their links above to learn more about who they are and the services they provide…that one click may be your one step to planning your next trip to paradise.

Concept/Writing/Research: Bill M. and Christina C.

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