Trini calypsonian using her creativity to stay afloat during COVID-19
Maria Bhola-Paul is a Trinidadian Calypsonian/Songwriter and entrepreneur.
Known for her informative and witty compositions, she celebrated 30 years in the Trinidad and Tobago calypso fraternity this year.
Music may be her first, but as she told us, its not her only love.
The owner of two businesses -Oui Papa Décor and Design Services and Let's SPArty Unisex Mobile Spa- Maria has proven to be an enterprising entrepreneur.
Like countless others, she and her family have been adversely affected and have had to recalibrate their daily routines because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She told Loop: “One of the most challenging aspects of my life since COVID, not being able to interact freely with the people I love most. My finances have also taken a hit as I could not open for business. Most of what I do involves interacting with people, many people. I now have to find ways to keep doing what I do in a way that makes financial sense and still keeps both me and my clients safe.”
Known for her grit, determination and resilience, Maria said she is now hard at work, trying to grasp and cultivate some semblance of normalcy.
Jazz Artist Vaughnette Bigford showing off her masterpiece at the Paint Spa
Still in recovery mode, the Calypsonian-entrepreneur said she only recently relaunched the Paint Spa, which remained closed for months because of the pandemic.
She told Loop she was inspired to launch this business venture after she attended a Sip and Paint event with friends.
“I totally loved the idea and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I instantly thought to myself...this is something I can do and this is absolutely something I can improve. I opened up exactly a month later. So far the experience has been wonderful. Those who attend usually come back with other friends. We have moved from simple canvas painting into creating what I term 'Conversation Pieces'. Everything we do involves some measure of painting but it is not all canvas."
Despite the losses suffered and the challenges still being faced, Maria said COVID-19 has deepened her appreciation for the little things.
She said she has also been reminded that life is fragile and should be handled with prayer.
“Living in a home where I feel loved and cared for and I actually like the people around me hahahaha...lockdown was actually fun! I have also been reminded of not taking life for granted. My children who reside in Canada were supposed to spend the entire July/August vacation with me...but COVID! I am grateful nonetheless we are all alive and well in the midst of.”
Fully cognizant of the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maria said she will continue to adhere to all the relevant restrictions and guidelines.
2020 T&T Calypso Monarch Terri Lyons at the Paint Spa
“I am doing my best to build both businesses, it takes a lot out of me...and we have not even spoken about my busy life as an entertainer/songwriter!! I am determined however to give each aspect a go, I love what I do and that makes it feel less like work. My passion drives me!”
Maria’s businesses are a testament to her versatility and drive.
Oui Papa is an event management and supplies company.
Let’s SPArty offers mobile spa treatments.
Located in East Trinidad, the Paint Spa is open for business every Friday and Saturday evening from 7 pm to 10 pm. They facilitate private bookings on most other days.
Asked what she misses most about life before COVID, Maria said moving around without a mask.