Shirley Rodriguez, a 43-year-old Venezuelan and her eldest daughter, Victoria Rivas, 17, put together their ideas and experiences and decided to open a spa that is attracting attention in Arima.
Rodríguez – born in Barquisimeto, Lara state, and Rivas in Puerto Ordaz, Bolívar state, Venezuela – became connected to TT thanks to Rivas's father, Jose Felix, who had a Trinidadian mother who lived in Venezuela for many years.
The two arrived in TT for the first time six years ago, when they decided to come on vacation for Rivas and her younger sister, Valeria, to visit her father and relatives, who were already back here.
“At first we came once a year with a tourist visa during vacation times, but since June 2019, due to the crisis in Venezuela, we decided to stay permanently in Trinidad and start a new life,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was able to participate in the amnesty process granted by the TT government last year to 16,523 Venezuelans and has her registration card with which she can legally work.
Her daughters already have Trinidadian residency because of their father and after ten years can apply for citizenship.
Rodriguez and Rivas have always shared ideas on cosmetics and beauty.
"I worked in a spa in Puerto Ordaz in the administrative area, and there I trained and learned from the best teachers in the area of facials, waxing and body sculpting with massages and appliances," Rodriguez recalled.
A few months ago, Rodriguez got a job offer in a spa in Arima, and her daughter went along to learn as well.
"Victoria ended up falling in love with body care and facial aesthetics, so she decided to take the step of beginning her cosmetology studies to practise as a health and beauty professional. She has six certificates and three she's currently pursuing at the Vander International Institute, a virtual school of traditional medicines and complementary therapies,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez always thought about having her own business in Venezuela, a dream that, owing to conditions there, she could not make come true.
"Victoria and I always talked about new products, new machines and equipment for spas worldwide, always attentive to the modern, focused on feminine beauty," she said.
They decided to make their dream come true in TT and create their own spa – Victoria’s Spa. The name was already decided and the next step was buying equipment and legal registration.
“We formalised the idea and decided to talk with the rest of the family here in Trinidad and Tobago to obtain a loan. Several people supported us financially and we were able to buy the equipment. Since then everything has progressed quickly,” said Rivas.
"We looked for all the equipment and machines while Victoria finished obtaining her Trinidadian documents, and with that we did the procedures before the registry. We are just waiting for the day to sign the registration papers as a company," said Rodriguez, proud of the step they took.
The procedures for registering the spa were done by Rivas's father, through Glide Business Solution.
"Jose Felix is a Trinidadian citizen and it was easier to register the spa in his name," acknowledged Rodriguez.
They decided to buy the equipment through Amazon since some of the parts were not found here.
"It is a bit expensive for shipping, but I have the experience that my old bosses in Venezuela bought new equipment with technology through Amazon. Our idea is to be able to offer the best services and for that it is necessary to invest in good equipment," said Rodriguez.
Among their Amazon purchases are a slimming machine, facial and body sculpting laser and massage equipment. They paid $6,000 in shipping costs.
"Here we only buy the waxing equipment and accessories such as waxes, canvases and palettes," said Rodriguez.
Once the equipment arrived, Victoria's Spa began welcoming clients.
“Four months ago we decided to start with some friends as personal clients and on a trial basis in the house where we rented. When we started to move forward and the documentation was advanced, we decided to rent an apartment in the same residential complex, on Pro De Verteuil Street in Arima – and here we are, thanks to God and to all those who have supported us,” said Rivas.
Rodriguez and Rivas currently serve two clients a day, by appointment.
“We are proud, as proactive, hard-working women and determined to grow. At the beginning we served Venezuelan women; now 70 per cent of our clients are Trinidadians, split between women and men,” said Rivas.
And they want to continue growing, They've been joined by Rosangela Rollin, a Venezuelan friend who specialises in pedicures.
"Women are bold, hard-working and responsible. It's just a matter of putting ideas into practise without fear," said Rodriguez.
Victoria's Span can be found on the social media accounts – Instagram and Facebook.