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Chilean women in business – Part 2

June 17
15:16 2010

Barbara Thompson is a general manager, host, marketer and student. She is also only 23 years old and while a full time student she takes charge of her business – the Santiago Pub Crawl.

Barbara used to study criminalistics then went six months abroad to Argentina, and is now back in the country studying fashion design. “Chile’s always calling me,” she says. Maybe Chile called her back for a reason this time, she was to start Santiago’s first Pub Crawl, something previously never heard of in the capital’s party scene.

Pub Crawl is a party where people go bar hopping as a group, they stay at each pub for a while, and go to the next one finally ending up in a club. The one Barbara runs meets at a specific location, on Saturdays it’s in the street Pio Nono in the popular-for-its-nightlife neighborhood Bellavista, for example, and then the party begins. An hour is spent at the meeting point where the company provides free food and drinks and then it’s off to the bars where partiers get a free shot at each entrance.

Barbara remembers her humble beginnings in the industry as if she was narrating an adventure. “I started as a receptionist at a hostel” and it all went from there. She met Elliot Nathan, an American, who was staying at the same hostel and wanted to start the Pub Crawl in Santiago so she joined him.

Nathan traveled a lot and experienced pub crawls in Israel, Buenos Aires as well as in the States. He and Barbara started working together researching and looking at ways to start the venture and in just two months the first crawl took place. Starting the business was the hardest, she recalls, because Chile had never heard of this idea. “We had to sell the concept to the guards, the clubs, the owners and managers. I’ve had many frustrations and days walking in the streets talking to people, but now it’s working really well.”

Still, Barbara has a busy schedule. Apart from attending class, she sets up meetings with companies, markets and networks at hostels, manages the Facebook site, and is ready to accompany her ‘guests’ out every night of an event. “I am always there. I have my staff but I’m always there, I feel like I need to be there because I’m in charge.” And who can blame her for wanting to make sure everything goes as planned? Taking care of a group of thirty or so party goers is no walk in the park. “I’ve been here from the beginning and I’ve been in every situation possible but I know how to handle it.”

The crawls are open to anyone looking to socialize, people from all over the world participate nightly and although English is the main language, Barbara tries to encourage the use of Spanish since she believes it’s a good learning experience as well.Barbara is clearly proud of her business. “I am focused 100 percent in the Pub Crawl,” she says “this is my thing.” Fashion design has become her hobby now and she considers the Pub Crawl her official job. When people ask her what she does, she tells them she is in the tourism business. “I think when you’re good at something it’s because you love what you’re doing – and this is what I do.” However she is conscious about her gender and her age in a very ‘machista’ Chilean society. “I’m working really hard to get somewhere and I want to make Chile a good place to visit.”

Finally she offers a word of advice for those that, like her, have a great idea but might be a little lost in the process of making it come to life. “Fight for it,” she says, “it’s never going to be easy but if you really want something you have to take a chance. If you don’t then you can’t win. Fight for everything that you love, and you’ll be successful.”

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