Paula Andrea lives on the Southside of Colorado Springs and is passionate about human beings and their quality of life — simply, their joy. Andrea’s seemingly meandering journey took her from South America to the East Coast of the United States — to Hawaii, South Korea and eventually here to the base of Pikes Peak where she invested time, energy and effort into serving the homeless population through Springs Rescue. Andrea now works for a new Denver-based company — Space CBD — as an account manager, focusing on the Pikes Peak region and Pueblo.
Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Andrea moved with her family to New Haven, Connecticut at 17 years old. When she finished high school in New Haven, Andrea left for New York City on her own. “Bogotá is a big city like New York; Connecticut was beautiful, but very boring for me,” Andrea said. “I went to New York and failed. The city chewed me up.”
Andrea moved around the East Coast every few years before returning to Colombia, where she began taking psychology courses at the accredited Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, a private higher education institution in Bogotá. She moved back to the United States — initially the South. She continued to take college courses in the humanities. “I was in Jacksonville for about four years and studied what I wanted: poetry, art, writing, design … That’s when I should have figured out that I was a humanitarian. Humanities — that’s people; that’s us,” Andrea said.
Andrea moved to Hawaii and further pursued hospitality through event planning. She connected with a woman in Waikiki, on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu, who carried a marketing background and was already organizing events. Together, they formed Anchor & Orca Productions, responsible for several large entertainment events, such as Boatzilla, Flower Shower Fest, and Wet Fest — the latter featured a water balloon war, a water-gun battle, a slip ‘n’ slide kickball tournament, a piñata filled with prize money, and more.
Andrea talked with the Business Journal about her adventurous life as an event manager in Hawaii, a program manager in South Korea, a resource center coordinator at Springs Rescue Mission, and her latest endeavor here in Colorado Springs.
Tell us about Anchor & Orca.
My business partner was really good at organizing but the events were missing soul, and I was really good at art direction — she was Anchor, and I was Orca. We had an event called Boatzilla which featured various boats off-shore, each with their own DJ that you could tube by, float by, or hang out on. We organized the Flower Shower Fest that featured helicopters dropping beautiful flowers along a sandbar.
The local Hawaiians were very suspicious and cold towards tourists or transplants. They see so many visitors who just do what they want and leave, fleetingly—they feel used. I intentionally went out of my way to always greet the locals and thank them for sharing their kingdom. They call Hawaii a kingdom, or The Kingdom. Waikiki was our home, on the island of O’ahu. At the time, Waikiki was largely dismissed — but Waikiki is amazing — so, we focused on it and raised it up as a ‘golden boy.’
The event industry in Hawaii was very competitive and dominated by males. Other companies would mock us and make fun of us. One [group] set up a meeting just to embarrass us and leave us in a sudden downpour of rain. Eventually, though, we earned respect and were very successful — building relationships with, and showing consideration for, the locals. That’s what made us successful: the fact that we included the Kingdom of Hawaii in everything we did. And I helped us get the community, the tourists and the Californians — who are all over Hawaii — to be kind and respectful to the locals. It was really magical … it was a peaceful time [with Anchor & Orca] where the locals were happy and felt respected … and I consider that work to be humanitarian. The experience was amazing and wonderful, but the downside was being around, and witness to, so much drug use — so I went to [South] Korea to work for the American Red Cross.
Where in Korea? And what kind of work were you doing for the Red Cross?
This was at Osan Air Base outside of Songtan, South Korea. I was a program manager [with the Red Cross], working with teens who were earning points towards college. I was overseeing community programs — anything from disaster relief, community engagement, inclusiveness, art therapy for PTSD, a huge community garden that included composting, yoga in the garden, nutrition, entomology … like what bugs are good for the garden and food and which are bad. We even ended up working with the Girl Scouts.
I [eventually] moved to Colorado Springs not long before COVID happened. I was in a relationship with someone in the military — that’s what brought me here. I started cleaning houses in The Broadmoor area; it was something to do that made money at the time. When COVID happened, it put a stop to that. I started volunteering at Springs Rescue Mission in the kitchen, but then moved to the Resource Center where we provided services like Social Security, dental, mental, laundry, showers, tea, anything … a hug, anything. Whatever they need.
I love Springs Rescue Mission. That place is amazing. When you volunteer, you work out of passion — it’s very freeing for the soul. Volunteering there [at Springs Rescue Mission], for me, brought so many things together: psychology, hospitality and humanitarianism.
What about finances? How are you making money?
Space CBD is a place that I started working for … that allows me to work on my own time — and they are interested in people and benefiting humanity. ... Space CBD moved from Washington to Denver and now they’re coming to Colorado Springs. You cannot deny all the amazing medical benefits that CBD has. … It can help people that are coming down from prescription medicines and dealing with withdrawal and dependency. That’s humanitarian: helping humans to be better … heal and relax. In Hawaii, I feel like Anchor & Orca kind of created a peace treaty with the locals, between the locals and the tourists and transplants.
Are you still in school? It seems as though that has been a very stop-and-go experience for you.
I’m graduating soon from University of Maryland Global Campus. I’m [in] my last two classes. I’m going to have a bachelor’s in humanities with a minor in business administration — focus on global studies. Everything we did was global. I took human resources, and then global human resources; marketing, then global marketing; business, then global business. Because that’s the trend, we’re going global — there’s no other way.
What do you like about Colorado Springs?
I love the mountains here in Colorado. I’ve hiked several thirteeners [but] only one fourteener so far: Quandary Peak. I love the weather here — I like how spontaneous it is, it changes and keeps it fresh. This spring, I kept my windows open in my house. I like the fact that Colorado Springs is not too big, but it’s not too small — it’s like a perfect balance right now. It’s easy to go out and meet interesting people. I’ve met very interesting people here. [I love] the history, like [Nikola] Tesla. I’ve met so many people who have visited here because they want to learn about Tesla … some even believe there are energy channels through the city and up through the mountains, and they think that’s why Tesla came to Colorado Springs to experiment — because he discovered these channels. I like COATI [food hall] — I just like the fusion there, the options in one space. I love Uri Sushi & Grill and also Sushi Ring. Sushi Ring is an all-you-can-eat place and it’s owned by a Japanese man who goes by “Elvis.” He’s a huge Elvis Presley fan … amazing hospitality. I love Elvis; he talks to me and lets me sample different fish. I love Colorado Springs. It’s home.
What’s the future look like for Paula Andrea?
Right now, I’m focused on Space CBD, marketing their products — and graduating from the University of Maryland. After graduating, I have dreams of helping women in their journeys of discovery — of themselves and their passions. I think too many women are just thrown into the randomness of this world, of our world, without encouragement or counsel. I’d love to develop an institution to help girls and women with grow into adulthood and deal with the realities and pressures of life. The dream is that it’d be an academy of sorts, and global. I feel something as divine and beautiful and incredible as being a woman, should be cared for, nurtured, protected and supported. I’ve been formed by culture, psychology, hospitality — and I believe people should thrive.