Influencer Caroline Kolk: goal-getting and passionate
Interview November 2021
I was born in Holland but was raised in Curaçao. My mother is from Curaçao and my father is from Holland. I studied Business Administration with a focus on Asian Trade. During my studies which focused primarily on materialism and capitalism the urge to give back and make the world a better place arose in me. As I was raised in Curaçao, I thought why not start in Curaçao and start small. I would have never thought at the beginning of my career that I would have ended up in what I am doing now as a business. To give myself a more solid foundation to be able to act as a healthcare consultant on the island, I decided to further my studies at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and become a certified Health Coach. As a business analyst I could see the current system was not working, and that a preventative approach to medicine was key in not only contributing to better health but also to also to the healthcare system that is in deep debt.
My parents background have had a big impact on who I am today. With my mother’s background as a pharmacist and my father as an economist, both being serial entrepreneurs it can’t be a coincedence that I combined both worlds into what I do today.
My mother also loved to share her passion for traveling with me. Accompanying her during her travels, allowed me see a lot of the world from a young age. She has always stimulated me to dream big and go far, which made me feel supported to move to Taiwan for a year to study International Affairs and Governance during my minor year abroad. I was the only one in class that chose to go to this particular Asian country, and didn’t know a single person in the country. It was one of the most liberating and transformational experiences of my life.
Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business administration with a focus on Asia, so when I left for Taiwan I spoke some Chinese. During my transformational year in Taiwan I for a Master’s Degree in Social Entrepreneurship at the HULT University in California and even received a partial scholarship. But when my mother shared with me that the family pharmacy was running into obstales because of some measures the SVB took I felt called to move back to Curaçao and help. I figured that by pivotting the business into a model of preventive health it would lessen the economic burden of pushing prescription medication. I decided to put my studies and the scholarship on hold and move back to Curaçao to work at my mother’s pharmacy as a healthcare consultant. This path led me to my training to become a Health Coach at the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. This is the same Institute Olga Job trained at, what are the odds? Two young women from this small island, participating in a very International oriented program. Coming February I will be traveling to Tulum, Mexico to follow a training to become a Medicine woman and further my knowledge in the field of medicine. The training focuses on releasing what is stuck in the body through energy, breathing techniques, and music, allowing people to heal emotionally and spiritually. I believe that in the current health care system these elements are not given enough weight. I would like to bring this more to the forefront of our care, as a lot of physical discomforts are caused by these factors.
If you would have asked me ten years ago that I would be running a holistic wellness center, I couldn’t have imagined that. The way The Space and it’s team members came together is something that is beyond me. I truly believe that I am guided to do this by a Force is bigger than me. Of course, I do have a vision and strategy but the way it has evolved over the past two years is natural and in pure Flow. I started doing Yoga when I was 23 years old. In the beginning, I did it purely because of the physical benefits of it, not from the spiritual or emotional understanding. One day during my yoga practice, I started to cry and couldn’t stop. This triggered a longing in me to know more. A small window opened and this started my journey to see and experience more in the world and to connect more with myself.
“It was so obvious what the Universe wanted, it flows naturally and the space is exactly what I wanted to create…”
We know you to be the owner of the Space. We visited your website and you offer a multitude of services under one room, which is great. Can you tell us when did the Space started and do you believe that the interest in wellness is growing on the island from local customers and tourists?
Officially we started two years ago. It was one year after I was certified as a health coach. I was longing to do more than one-on-one coaching. I had some space left in the house where I am living, and considered coaching in group settings, but I knew I couldn’t take up all that space on my own.
On the evening that I was planning to approach my breath work teacher to see if she would be interested in sharing The Space, she asked if anyone knew a larger space for her sessions. That’s all I needed, the sign to know that the Universe was on my side, I decided to go for it and the rest is history. Shortly after we were joined by Yoga teachers, bodywork practitioners, a midwife, an intuitive reader and so on. As we speak, we have 26 people associated one way or the other with The Space Curaçao. It was so obvious this is what the Universe wants, it flows naturally and turns out to be The Space I wanted to create around my mother’s pharmacy 6 years ago. A whole health and wellness space that offers complementary approaches to medicine. Our offerings include a variety of treatments, such as acupuncture, psycho therapy, detoxification, bodywork, integrative medicine, yoga, mediaton you name it we got it. We are only missing a few complimentary disciplines.
Do you believe that the interest in these kinds of treatments is growing?
Yes, for sure. People are looking for it and I believe that we are only just beginning to see a much larger group of people that due to the global pandemic are motivated to take better care of themselves. You see more and more centers like The Space popping up across the world, one of my big examples is THE WELL in New York. They have recently expanded with two new branches, one in Connecticut and one in Costa Rica, where health and wellness is offered in a retreat format. This is something I would also love to offer tourists that visit Curaçao.
What does success look like for you?
Success for me is when this becomes the generally accepted way of life. You go to yoga, you eat high vibrationally whole foods, you take care of your mental health, your body and overall wellbeing. When this becomes normal practice, instead of something people invest their time and energy in when they are burned out and already ill, then I consider this to be a successful endeavour. Then I have done what I set myself to do.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
That when it is my time to go, I would leave it behind a little better place than when I came here. It pains me to see the struggle people go through, as often times they are the ones standing in their own way causing them to experience emotional, spiritual, and physical discomforts. If I in any way can contribute to helping them along their path in reconnecting them to their innate healing capacity, allowing them to thrive and do what they came here to do in this life, I would be a very fulfilled woman.
What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
The Space will have opened a 3rd and 4th location, one in Colombia and another one on the island, preferably in Banda Abou. I would love to start a beautiful Retreat Center where people abroad can come to have a whole health and wellness experience, incorporating the use of our local herbs, enjoying our beautiful natural healing environments that we have on the western part of the island.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
The Space is a project Bigger than myself. I have rolled it out with my feeling and gut, but my business administration background has been very helpful. The big challenge is the financial aspect of the business. It drains my energy and gets me out of the flow state, as everything else happens in a flow. The number side of the business just doesn’t do it for me. I am looking forward to finding a suitable business partner who compliments me in this aspect of the business. Allowing us to collaborate and create change in health and wellness based on our strengths.
Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
As a woman as I go through my menstrual cycle, my inner voice becomes louder. During three weeks in the month, I am relatively stable. I enjoy doing my practice of gratitude journaling, my morning yoga and listen to my inner voice as a compass. In the week of my menstrual cycle the inner critic becomes very loud, I can be very judgmental and critical about myself. To differentiate between my inner critic and inner voice, I start journaling even more to evaluate my fears if they are real or exaggerations. The journaling helps me to stop keeping this inner dialogue in my head but download it in writing, as I can then see more clearly what it is truly trying to express to me. This allows the inner critic to be seen and heard by putting it on paper, I allow my Higher Self to take over.
How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels?
For the past 3 years, I haven’t been able to invest as much as I would like in myself, as all of my finances are invested back in the business. I did get the opportunity to attend a Tony Robbin’s summit last summer. Now I am in a position that I can re-prioritize and invest again, my intention is to invest in a course, training or program every year. What I choose to deepen my know-how with is determined by an inner knowing. It needs to be a deep resounding “yes”. Coincidentally at this specific moment, I am following a course at Citi, using business model canvas, to create the perfect elevator pitch to potential investors and/or business partners…I am in training right now as we speak.
What are your strengths?
I am very good at creating an environment that allows people to rest and heal. When they come into The Space the first word they say is…ah…and they haven’t even experienced any treatment yet.
My strength is caring for people who need to be supported.
You seem to be a vert right brain guide person, right?
Yes, both my parents stimulated me to use my right brain and as I grew up I started developing my left brain more. I am extremely grateful for this and I can easily fill my gratitude journal with all the things I am grateful for.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I am passionate about traveling. By Human design and astrology, I am always seeking new experiences. I love experiencing different cultures, tasting new flavors, exposing myself to new environments, it just lights up my soul. My intuition guides me to go exactly where I need to go. I tried being a travel blogger, but that obviously was not what the universe had in store for me. Now with The Space I get to combine my passion for traveling + wellness and share this love in another way.
If you as Caroline would meet a stranger on the bus (let say in New York or Bogota Columbia) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I am the space holder of a holistic and wellness center.
How would you describe Caroline in one word or one sentence?
Goal getting, passionate, world citizen who cares for humankind.
Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
Growing up, it was Oprah Winfrey. She always had people in the audience of her program that work hard to help others often times at a high cost to themselves. Oprah got the give these deserving people things like cars’, vacation trips, homes, home appliances simply because she felt like it. To be able to generate so much wealth and then be able to give back in a way that feels good to you was inspiring to me. She was one of the first black women in the USA to build a big empire.
Are you good at receiving Caroline?
Yes, I am very good at receiving but also very specific in the receiving according to a certain standard. I just came back from a 2 weeks trip to Colombia which was all about receiving. My mother has been a great role model for me in this sense also.
What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
The administrative and financial side of the business. I know, yes, I know for sure, how important it is. This is true also considering all the plans that I have, which includes my plans and intentions to also offer schools yoga and meditation. For this to manifest, I need to manage my financials very well or find a business partner that loves numbers and can handle this side of the business for me. But even in that scenario, I would have to be knowledgeable in this area.
What was a defining moment in your life?
The year I lived in Taiwan, I was exposed to a new way of life. I was forced to get to know people not through my family, school, my parents, or other acquaintances which resulted in me doing things based on my feelings instead of my mind. I was exposed to a different and holistic way of living which contributed largely to my awakening.
Where do you want to be 10 years from now with your career?
That I would be involved in multiple Spaces in Central, South America, and the Caribbean and that I would be flying from here to there and visa versa and in doing that meet the most wonderful healers and practitioners. That I would offer a platform so that they can do their work and collaboratively enable the world and people living in this whole region to take better care of their wellbeing. More than 10.000 people will have been touched by The Space and by this way of life, spreading this effect also in their respective circle of influences. This would be a nice legacy that I would like to leave behind, 10 years from now.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you, let’s say 20 years from now?
Caroline is a very caring person, so caring that sharing her care and love with her friends and family isn’t enough, so she is sharing her care and love with the whole world.
“We have our unique way of collaborating.”
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
In the past 6 years, I have witnessed so much collaboration on Curaçao. So many beautiful initiatives being started across industries. Just look at how many herbs and greens are being grown on the island now. And the number of yoga studios that are popping up like a mushrooms out of the ground. I believe former Minister Suzy Romer has contributed in a big way to this. Her efforts have helped the island in the right direction. I see it happening incrementally and this gives me lots of hope. There is such a Cohesive Force that is generated and continuing to grow and I am grateful to be part of this.
Do you believe that Curaçao is well underway to becoming a wellness island?
100 %, I can feel it. It is starting to catch the attention of local hotel branches in Curaçao, that they need to position themselves for this niche. This after years and years of talk on the need to position us in that way, not much has been done. But, it is starting to become visible at last. I have high hopes that the CTB and CHATA will represent us well in helping to brand us as a “wellness” destination. I am hopeful that the next generation of local entrepreneurs will help this effort to be successful. At The Space Curaçao we have had three visitors from Germany, Holland, and Trinidad & Tobago that have deliberately chosen to combine their stay on the island with a health and wellness experience The Space Curaçao.
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Caroline Kolk is a caring, energetic, collaborative, frequent traveler, wellness entrepreneur, and world citizen living in Curaçao, that dreams Big and goes far. With her “go for it” mindset and guided by something Bigger than her vision and strategies, she has within a relatively short time manifested The Space Curaçao with 26 different holistic health and wellness practitioners offering their services. Following her Big WHY she is diligently working with other healers and practitioners towards helping over 10.000 people worldwide to experience improved emotional, spiritual, and physical lives via a holistic lifestyle. As a social entrepreneur, she is a firm advocate of introducing yoga and meditation at schools and strategizing on how she can enable and contribute to this. Furthermore, she firmly believes in the potential Curaçao has as a wellness island and is actively considering the opening of a second wellness center in Curaçao, using the many opportunities she sees Curaçao has, with regards to this niche market. Because of all this, her connection with something Bigger than herself, her collaborative and caring Being that she is, we deeply love and respect Caroline Kolk and we consider her one of the 250 influencers of the islands representing the Wellness sector.
Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.