Tag Archives: Interviews

S&S ABROAD with Debra Barrett: Salon/Spa Owner and Bridal Consultant

The women I’ve been interviewing since May for my S&S ABROAD expat interview series keep blowing me away. I hope their courage to live on their own terms and to pursue their passion inspires you to go out there and do the same.

An American who left California to create a brand new life abroad, Debra Barrett is a nurse turned beautician extraordinaire. Her office is the beautiful backdrop of Jamaica, where she uses her talents to turn women into princesses on their big day or on any day. After taking the chance of moving to Negril to work at a resort-owned salon, she opened her own, manages yet another salon/spa for a hotel and launched a”mobile bridal” business – traveling wherever she’s needed for weddings on the island. Pretty cool life, eh? From her amazing beauty skills to her fun, lively and positive spirit, Debra is truly one of a kind.

Here’s what she offered to share with us – thanks Debra!


NAME:  Debra Barrett


OCCUPATION: Beautician, Salon/Spa Manager at Negril Escape Resort and Owner of Scissors Salon and Queen Bee’s Mobile Bridal Services



Where are you originally from? Did you grow up there also?

I’m from a small city 35 miles south of San Francisco, called East Palo Alto. I also grew up there.

Did you always know you’d be a beautician?

No, I actually went to nursing school but I was always very fashion oriented.

When was your first trip to Jamaica? What did you like about it and what kept you returning?

My first trip was in 1989, right after Hurricane Gilbert. To me, Jamaica was like the closest thing to Africa, without going to Africa. It was so relaxing and just paradise.

You moved there permanently in 1999. How did that come about, and did you have an idea of what you would do for work?

Everything in my life was changing, and I had no control over what was happening. The one thing I could control was my own destiny, so I chose to get my life in the order that was good for me. I sat for 4 months looking out from my veranda and one day a friend came and took me with her to meet the General Manager at one of the all-inclusives in Negril. I was introduced to the spa manager and the rest was history. I worked at that spa for seven years.

What was that like, going from visiting to working day to day and living there?

Very different, but I got used to it. You learn what’s important in life and that a lot of material things are not necessary to be happy.

Was it difficult adjusting as a solo female? Easy to make friends? Did you have any kids and did they move with you?

It wasn’t difficult – I was so into trying to heal myself at the time, that the difficulty of being female was not even a thought. I made friends easily, I’m a people person. My kids are grown, but they do visit.

Photo by http://jtbportraits.com

How long was it before you opened your own beauty salon, Scissors?

I went back home to California for a year to decide what my next move was. While in Jamaica I had met a man and I came back a year later and  >> Continue reading »

S&S ABROAD with Brendan Van Son – Travel Writer, Photographer & Editor

The life of an expat is fascinating – to pack up, move away from “home” and make a new life is no small feat. It’s an experience available to the few of us in the world who have the privilege of freedom and choice.

Over the past few years I’ve met some incredible expats, both on the road and from connecting to an amazing network of travelers in person and online. People like you and me, who took a chance to create a new life, through travel. They moved away from their “patria” for reasons as wide as the universe –  a better chance at success in their fields,  more quality of life, or to satisfy their need to explore. Some are nomads, others picked a new country and called it home. They all have one thing in common: the courage to pursue their dreams.

Though this “Abroad” series, I will profile some of these unique individuals. They’re willing to let me peek into their lives abroad – why they moved, what they do and how travel has transformed them beyond work. My goal is to continue to inspire through my blog, and what’s more inspiring than knowing that anyone can press the redirect button on life?

They are writers, teachers, photographers, computer nerds and much more.

Meeting them fuels me and I hope it does the same for you, whether you wish to live abroad or not. (Plus you get to read about someone other than me!)

For the first profile in this “Abroad” series, I’m happy to introduce writer, photographer and travel-entrepreneur Brendan Van Son. I first heard of Brendan when I stumbled on a post he wrote, ranking travel blogs into a Top 100 list. I sent him an email to introduce myself (hello, what about me?!) and he was quick to respond, inviting me to submit my work for his new digital magazine, Vagabundo, which aims to showcase the sea of fresh talent that’s out there. I loved his down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is personality. Plus, he’s managed to turn travel into work – through publications of his own and through his blog.  I’ll stop now – read on to find out more!


NAME: Brendan Van Son

PATRIA: Canada

OCCUPATION:  Photographer, Author, Editor



Brendan, you’re originally from Canada. Where are you currently living and how long will you be there?

Yes, I’m from a small town called Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, but I’ve been on the road for 3 years now.  I don’t actually live anywhere.  I’m a nomad of sorts, a week here, a couple days there.  At this exact moment I’ve just arrived in Madrid, Spain.

What triggered your desire to leave home and travel the world?

I decided to start travelling once I realized that all my career ambitions revolved around which job would allow me the most opportunity to travel. I gave up a lot of “good” career options to seek out my own career discovering the world.

What’s your travel style, do you structure your time in any way in each destination?

I’m a backpacker, and not a long-stay traveller at all.  Since I work from the road I stay a little bit longer than most tourists, but not much. Generally I stay 3-5 days somewhere >> Continue reading »