Nicolina Gil, girl boss in Punta Cana
In BOP faces we talk to local legends: the people of Punta Cana that make this place so special. In this edition, Nicolina Gil. As a designer for her brand Tripsy Gypsy she designs womenswear, and jewelry. She is also one of the owners of the Mandala Bavaro Learning Community where she created a place for people to be inspired by local designs and where they can learn new skills in a non-traditional way. But how did she end up from Miami in Punta Cana, and became an entrepreneur at the age of 24? Read on to find out.
From Miami to Jarabacoa
“I saw cows for the first time! It was so rural. No mall, no movie theaters.” Nicolina Gil (24) recalls the day when she set foot in the Dominican Republic after living in Miami for 12 years. “When I was 3 years old I moved with my mom and sister to Miami. Because we had less rights in the United States as immigrants, my mom decided to send my sister and I to live in Jarabacoa with family when I was 15. It was so dramatic for me. I left before prom! In the beginning it was hard to adjust. I had to go to a Christian School where I had to wear a uniform. Black shoes and white socks! There was nothing around. Just nature. I had never seen a river. But I had to get over it.” Nicolina smiles as she remembers the moments when she realized that her life in Jarabocao was so different to what she was used to in Miami.
Nicolina sits back in her chair. She is wearing one of her designs of her brand Tripsy Gypsy. It is a striped crop top with buttons on it, which makes 6 dots that are tattooed along her collarbones visible. “Everyone asks me what these dots mean. They do not mean anything, I just like the symmetry of them. This top used to be a vintage men’s shirt that I transformed into this. I like collecting different scraps of fabric and pieces and turning them into something new.”
Moving back to the city
After living on the country side for a year and a half, Nicolina moved to Santo Domingo to live with her father, a bodybuilder and personal trainer who was crowned Mister Dominican Republic 3 times in a row. “When I got to Santo Domingo, I felt that I could live there. Soon I made new friends who had the same interests as me. They liked fashion and we also had the same musical interests. I gained a circle of people who became close. In Santo Domingo I started going to a school to get my technical degree in fashion. It was a challenge at times. Working and going to school while depending on public transport, that is not always on time.” Nicolina laughs.
Becoming a business owner in Punta Cana
“I have been in Punta Cana for 4 years. I moved from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana to work in the customer service department of a student travel agency. In the meantime, I always worked on my fashion brand Tripsy Gypsy, until I met Tanya who changed my life and way of thinking. She became my big sister and soul sister. Tanya opened my eyes to travelling. We took a backpacking trip to Peru together where I collected different fabrics for my brand but also other treasures.”
“Never did I think of having my own business at this age. It is about creating your own reality together with having a positive mentality. When Tanya and I opened the Mandala Bavaro Learning Community it was the happiest moment in Punta Cana for me. It was such a big step and achievement. We are the first community center in Bavaro Punta Cana. I want it to become a concept store too where people can shop local brands, like my own, learn new skills, and enjoy organic food.”
At the Mandala Bavaro Learning Community people can follow language classes, but also classes in yoga, reiki, and sewing amongst other things. Read our interview with Tanya here.
As a business owner, Nicolina balances her time between her two businesses. “This year I have been really serious with my fashion brand Tripsy Gypsy. I produced a photoshoot, and I am creating a website. For the moment I am selling my capsule collection through Instagram. Having a business is a learning process. Being able to create your own routine and plan your days, is worth the stress though.”
“I think I got it from my parents. My father is personal trainer and my mom is a DJ. She also does home improvement for people and gardening! Although we speak on the phone, I have not seen her since I left Miami. She has not been able to leave United States. She has not seen the woman I have become. Of course, I want to see her. I am sure it will happen.”
Favorite place in Punta Cana
“The Ojos Indigenos, where I chill and take it easy and enjoy the surroundings. When I do go out, I like going to Surfhouse Punta Cana for a drink and to listen to live music. I am also not a beachy person. I do like going to parties on the beach at Huracan Café though. But staying at home with my French Bulldog and 2 cats is actually my favorite place in Punta Cana!”