A Tribute to Women Entrepreneurs at Paseo Herencia

International Women’s Day this past March 8th, celebrated the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, world over.

Locally, however, Aruba celebrates Women’s Day every day, thanks to the diverse and distinctive role Aruban women have played on the island for the last two decades.

Aruba prides itself on female leadership, having elected and appointed a prime minister, the minister of finance, the chief police inspector, the head of the central bank, the CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority, the president and CEO of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, all female.

Paseo Herencia, an old village style plaza, on Palm Beach, surrounded by great shopping, dining, a state of the art cinema and nightly liquid firework shows, also prides itself on an impressive collection of retail stores, all owned and operated by women. The plaza itself is mostly managed by women with Vanessa in finance, Zaira in marketing, and Valerie in the general manager’s seat, for the past fifteen years.

Maggy’s, Perfumes, Cosmetics & Salons, Aruba’s Beauty Emporium Since 1955, currently run by third generation Aruban entrepreneurs Sheelah van de Poel- Oduber, Shamila Yarzagaray- Oduber. Their grandmother Maggy Abrahams opened her first beauty salon at the time when people referred to it as a “cute hobby” because women weren’t perceived as business-minded, creative entrepreneurs. Her daughter Audrey Lacle later continued in Maggy’s footsteps mixing sharp business acumen with social activism and community consciousness. The third generation, Audrey’s daughters, Sheelah and Shamila, now contribute to the successful formula by staying on top of market trends, shifting with the needs of consumers, delivering exceptional customer-service in the stores and creating memorable events at fragrance launches and holidays, besides a much-enjoyed annual Make-Up Festival, and general Joie de Vivre, joy of living, dispensed as added-value to perfume and cosmetic purchases.

Maggy’s, an anchor store in the plaza, has been one of the first tenants, it signed the lease during construction, in 2006, opening in 2007.

Sunset Shack, by Carlina Britten- de Souza, a pioneer in women’s fashions. She opened her door at the plaza in 2017, focusing on tropical beachwear and accessories. The boutique has a distinct Bohemian accent for the woman who is an old soul, with young eyes, vintage heart and a beautiful mind. It also stocks unique clothing for children and men.

Sunset Shack offers famous Quay/Australia, Von Zipper and OTRA sunnies, totes and clutches, with an organic, recycled edge, and an artisanal jewelry selection inspired by the sea. The boutique flaunts a collection of hand-dyed swimwear and cover-ups, a full range of bikini bathing suits, in joyful prints and bright solids, stylish one piece suits, also in plus sizes, lace and crochet tunics, wearable art promoting the chic Aruba beach look, at affordable prices. Located next to TGI Friday.

Vadavas, by sisters Valeria, Daniela & Valentina Gomez, a sisterhood of entrepreneurship. Together with their mom the trio started VaDaVas, a brand of accessories and jewelry designed by them and handcrafted by single moms, at home. Their business name derives from the consolidation of their names, and their effort is part of an international program named Women’s Opportunity International Foundation, founded by their mom who herself was once a single mom. In their gorgeous little store, as clients buy a handcrafted piece, they can rest assured it was made with social responsibility, love and dedication. The sisters dream is to make their brand an international franchise, sharing their footprint globally. Their goal is to open retail stores around the world which transcend borders, so that they can bring work to the homes of needy women whom they call Leading Moms. With every purchase, clients are helping them empower more single moms while contributing to their goal of inspiring many more people. VaDaVas features a special collection named Little Princesses and also produces elegant Mom & Daughter bracelets. Their flower festooned kiosk is located at the entrance to the plaza, since 2016.

The Atelier – ARUBA. Travelers are increasingly interested in taking home a genuine slice of the places they visit, in the form of locally produced arts and crafts. Perceiving this growing trend, foundation ARUBA, Artisan Recognized & United by Aruba, is a matchmaker of sorts organizing craft markets where visitors to Aruba could admire and purchase items that were handmade by local artisans. The movement finds its roots in 2010 when Artisan friends started creating together and home venues became too small. When they reached more people and attracted more artisans to participate in their craft events, they were also searching for talent and were impressed with the overwhelming creativity hidden on the island, seeing a clear need for a strong platform for the development, recognition, and promotion, of local handmade art crafts. The movement resulted in ARUBA which welcomes anyone on the island who is passionate about creating crafts. The foundation runs the local craft store in the plaza, and some artisans are always present. The foundation is proud to display the work of about 60 members, all female.

Fly fit studio, with fitness guru Jennifer Aldrige. F.L.Y., Fitness Studio, promotes Fitness, Lifestyle & Yoga. The studio offers regular and specialized Yoga, Body Pump, Pilates, Spinning, and TRX for adults and teens. Classes for all levels of practitioners. Located on the third floor of plaza F.L.Y. Studio deliver a tranquil setting to practice any form of exercise, with a fantastic view of the ocean, and the hubbub in the street, three floors below. Classes offered by Jenn and other popular local fitness personalities are given every day, from 6:30am, on. US born and educated Jenn is a tireless, excellent teacher, conducting classes in English. All classes aim to provide special attention to flexibility, endurance, alignment, stretching and strength, as well as fun and relaxation.

Drunk’s denial, by Tessa Pietersz, a gourmet baker. Tessa Pietersz is a household name in Aruba and synonymous with Trend Alert, a TV program she presented for many years. She is an influencer and a media personality, who discovered a passion for baking during the pandemic, converting her newly-found obsession into a profession. Her little internal she-devil, she explains, told her she should attempt to reinvent herself. And she did, refusing to behave or be caged. She insisted on making a career tweak. They say that cooking is art, and baking a science, and Tessa is good at the second, baking drunken cakes. Paseo Herencia welcomed her with open arms, with a cupcake shaped kiosk, adjacent to a matching black and white ice cream stand, all liquor infused flavors, and a French crepe station. Her specialty cakes include: Pistachio, Rum, Amaretto; Amaretto Almond; Champagne Strawberries; Champagne Mandarin; and Mojito Cheesecake, all may be paired with delicious Italian Lavazza espresso.

Xixon, Spanish restaurant, by owner Karina Castro, an experienced restaurateur. Xixon, or Gijon – pronounced Hi-Hon, is a charming restaurant featuring the great cuisine of Spain. Spanish food is honest, it doesn’t hide under fancy sauces, nor spices; it is just cooked with excellent olive oil, high quality salt, and just one kind of typical pepper, with a fragrant, gentle flavor; what you see is what you get, says Karina, take your time ordering, focus on the experience, food is there to be enjoyed. The restaurant lists 130 dazzling dishes, cold and hot tapas, main courses, chef specialties, rice dishes, paellas, meats, fish, sides, extra sides, salads, and desserts, besides 190 wine labels with every region of Spain represented, including white and red sangria in pitchers, or by the glass. Xixon is a well-established restaurant in refined Coral Gables, on Coral Way, in Miami. It has been serving patrons for 21 years. Then a repeat-repeat Aruban guest, suggested to Karina and her husband to open a Spanish restaurant here, and the rest is history. They opened mid-pandemic, and are happy to see business recover. Check out their special offer for Happy Hour from 5pm to 6pm.

Alheli Massage, by Mariana Rivero, a licensed therapist. Tucked away under the escalator leading to the second floor cinema, the tiny, cozy space offers therapeutic massages, where you may let the therapist reduce the stress in your life, practically wipe it away, with just one treatment.  On the menu, Reflexology, Chair Massage, Full Body Massage and Sport Massage, and clients may call for an appointment on just pop in. The duration of treatments varies from 20 to 60 minutes, and clients may monitor their spending by keeping in mind the rate of US$1 per minute for the chair massage and $2 per minute for the other massages, all designed to revitalize and refresh. The Reflexology treatment relies on ancient Thai techniques; the Chair Massage includes head, back, arm and hand TLC. Mariana’s services are much in demand by locals and visitors.

Carmen Steffens & Psycho Bunny, by Laura Simon. Two of the plaza’s fashion-forward anchor stores, one strikes a classy elegant tone, the other a trendy, edgy vibe. The brand Carmen Steffens, hails from Rio, yet it spread across the world with 560 retail stores in 18 countries. Carmen Steffens, founded by designer Mario Spaniol, is one of the fastest-growing international Brazilian luxury brand. It is now available in the United States, France, Brazil and Argentina, and Aruba. The Psycho Bunny Artist Series delivers the designs of artists from around the world who express themselves in the cities where they live such as New York and Chicago. Simon is a die-hard retailer. She arrived at the plaza in 2004, when she opened a Lacoste Boutique, later a Crocs’ outlet, a Converse, then just before the pandemic she launched Carmen Steffens, endured the hardship of business-downturn and is now again optimistic about the future. She courted the folks at Psycho Bunny for almost five years, and was proud to open a capsule first, later in last November, a full-fledged store, that has been a success so far. My loyal employees and supportive family members have stuck with me all along, she says, and we are all terrifically resilient and unafraid of reinventing ourselves.   

Mural Mosaic Art, by artist Omaira Silva. The tiniest store in the plaza is by muralist Omaira Silva, a mosaic specialist. It is hidden away at the entrance of the Lazy Turtle Restaurant, yet when Omaira is there, it is buzzing with activity. Omaira is a driven artist, who with a single pair of pliers introduced the art of mosaic to Aruba. Her work can be found in many places here including the plaza where she created the colorful and picturesque “Love is in the Air” with great flair and precision.  If you are looking for handmade, unique Arts & Crafts creations, Acrylic Paintings, Mixed Media, Paper Works Collages, Journals, Cards, Mini Albums, Mosaic, Objects D’Art & Gifts, the corner gallery is your perfect destination. Omaira’s most famous piece is in San Nicolas, a Winged Angel, at the entrance to the main street. She also created the Water Fountain and the Green Iguana, at the International Airport Reina Beatrix, Aruba. As a daughter, and grandmother, she is most dedicated to her own creations, her family members.

Eternity Roses, by Arosa, with Crystal Davies Kelly. The Kiosk is located in front of the escalator to the cinemas and is stocked with real roses, not just any roses, but ones that last over a year, in all colors of the rainbow. The roses come packed in decorative boxes, one, a handful, a dozen, or one million, their presentation is always spectacular. Crystal Davies Kelly is a romantic, and eternity roses, real and naturally gown, piqued her curiosity enough to open a store in Aruba. It’s the perfect gift, that says a lot, she says.

A message from Valerie Pietersz Camacho, General Manager Paseo Herencia: In writing about these amazing entrepreneurial, inventive women, we hope to inspire others to venture into business on the island. Women bring great value to the plaza, the island and the world, and by actively participating in the life of their community have shattered all glass ceilings on the island.

Paseo Herencia Shopping & Entertainment Center. Follow on https://www.facebook.com/PaseoHerencia for latest news and events!


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March 23, 2022
Rona Coster