Lola: “I was able to merge my passions”
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. In this edition: graphic designer Lola Manzanas on opening the Tiki Bar, food truck, her aqua-blue hair and life in Punta Cana after 10 years.
Bodypainting, graphic design, beer ventures and typography. These are some of Lola Manzanas talents. She just loves trying out new things as an artist.
The previous weekend she was painting party people at the festival the Isle of Light in Santo Domingo. Now she is sitting on her couch in her home in Punta Cana with a big smile on her face as she talks about it.
“Body painting was a natural transition. I thought by myself: ‘What else could I do what would be really cool. Let’s paint on people. so I tried it at the last Electric Paradise festival, but for the Isle of Light I wanted to do something different. Glow in the dark paint. It gave me great satisfaction to see people’s reaction. They were so happy when they looked at themselves glowing.”
Growing up in Santo Domingo, Lola was exposed to design and arts from a young age through her grandfather who loved painting and her mother who worked in advertising and design.
“My mom used to take me and my sister to her work. She worked in a big advertising company as a art director and illustrator. We used to sit underneath her desk drawing, while listening in on the adult conversations and learning about everything they did there.”
This lead to Lola’s career choice in graphic design. After working for various advertising companies, Lola became the inhouse graphic designer for Cap Cana. “At first, I worked from Santo Domingo, but when the office decided to move to Cap Cana, I moved with them. I recognize so much from Jonatan’s interview. 10 years ago there was hardly anything here. No internet, no cable television. We were disconnected. ‘Are you going to La Romana?’ we used to ask each other. Because then you knew that someone could get groceries for you, since the supermarket was there. It became a tight community. Even now when we see each other on the street it is like: ‘Hey brother!’
What’s in a name
The sound of a baby in the background makes Lola look up. It is her 1 year old son. “It’s my baby!”
Lola and Manzanas. It made BOP wonder if the name was actually real. “Okay my real name is Paola, but my mom always called me Lola. Everyone knows me by that name. Manzanas is not my last name, it is Hernandez. It came from school, because I love green apples. People started calling me that and it stuck with me. Last time someone even wrote out a check with the name Manzanas. Can you believe it!” a laughing Lola Manzanas says.
Lola decided she wanted more freedom after working in big companies, and started to work as a freelance graphic designer. But the real free feeling came when she and her husband Joan decided to go into business together and started the Tiki Bar and food truck in the BlueMall Punta Cana. It was as though all Lola’s talents came together in one project. “Joan and I are both beer lovers. We love finding new beers and the Tiki Bar gave us a chance to introduce people to them, to share our discoveries. I am doing things for myself now, things that I used to do for other people. I was able to merge my passions. You see yourself doing great things and taking risks when you have your own projects. You are thousand times more passionate about them! I wake up and think about changing the lights or something else. It gives me energy and freedom workwise. It is a fantastic feeling.”
At the Tiki Bar people can try different beers. From Belgium to the Dominican Republic. The food truck offers many burgers, but also a sandwich with sweet plantain, bacon and beef. The “Chimitron”, BOP’s favorite.
Having her own business, family and other clients. How does Lola Manzanas stay creative?
“I just don’t stop. As you work you get inspired by other work. Inspiration has to find you working. For example, on Valentines day I made custom designs on beer bottles that people can give as a gift, then I painted on old beer bottles as a way of recycling. Now I’m posting a different bottle with a letter of the day, every day on Instagram as part of the “36 days of Type” project, where you give your own interpretation of a letter of the alphabet, an initiative from a design Studio in Barcelona. It’s all about staying active.”
“If I would not be a graphic designer, I would be designing rollercoasters, because I love them. Creating experiences. Oh wait, that has to do with design too!”
Favorite spot and happiest moment
“My happiest moment in Punta Cana was when we bought our home. We found homebase in a place we love and it felt so natural.”
“Macao is my favorite spot in Punta Cana. It is beautiful, public, and it feels like you are not bothering anybody. It also great for surfing. I really like the sea and all its colors. That is why my hair always has a shade between aqua blue and green, the color follows me around everywhere i go. It’s like a part of me.”