Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles of Cuenca expats.
By Brian Hitsky
If you were born between the years 1980 and 2000, you’ve been cast as a millennial.
And the characteristics that make up that group aren’t very flattering.
Take a Time Magazine article in 2013 that in part stated.” They’re narcissistic.
They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.”
Not so for Cuenca millennial Nick Barringer, who is a rarity in a city filled with retired baby boomers. Barringer is 27, having lived in Cuenca for five plus years after moving to Ecuador at the end of 2011.
Millennials are supposed to have great focus on materialistic values such as money, fame and image. They emphasize social media presence.
Barringer, however, doesn’t exactly fit this mold. “I don’t have a personal Facebook account. I have them for my businesses, but I delisted myself,” he said. “It’s not personable the way people socialize on Facebook. They don’t meet each other in person. It’s just ‘like, like, like’.”
Barringer also didn’t attend college after graduating from high school in Wisconsin. “I’m a hands-on learner. The conventional school system never worked out for me,” he said.
There’s been three generations of Barringers living in Ecuador. His grandfather moved to the South American country when he was in his mid-80s, and Nick’s aunt and uncle in settled in Cuenca several years before. Nick first lived in Bahia de Caraquez, north of Manta.
“I came to Ecuador for work and business opportunities,” he recalled. “I consider myself an entrepreneur, a sort of Jack-of-trades. He spent 1½ years in Bahia de Caraquez working as a bartender (right on the beach), overseeing construction management, providing swimming lessons and teaching Spanish and English. Barringer is fluent in Spanish.
When he decided to relocate to Cuenca, he had a support system to settle him in. His aunt and uncle, Craig and Lucy, owned the popular Windhorse Café on Calle Larga (which has since been closed), and Nick worked there as a waiter.
His passion for business soon over-powered his waiter job. He eventually started Find Health of Ecuador, a doctor and dentist referral agency that found the best practitioners and matched them up with people looking for specific medical procedures. Find Health ultimately became a full-fledged dental clinic in 2014.
In 2017 Barringer started another company that helps support indigenous women. Chimbora produces high quality 100-percent alpaca hats that are now sold world-wide.
“We bring in quality wool from Peru and it takes a woman about five hours to knit one hat,” he said. “You can tell it’s hand-knitted.” Barringer reported that in the last 30 days he sold 100 hats on Amazon. “It’s cool. The hats sell for $40-$50 and the sales are helping the co-op and the women improve their lives.”
Barringer has a variety of interests outside of work, which he pursues with passion. He’s an avid hiker and mountain climber. He has participated in treks to the Cotopaxi volcano, the second highest in Ecuador. His most fun trip, he said, was a five-day excursion to the Sangay volcano, which is 5,200 meters.
Recently, he participated in an Olympic Triathlon in Salinas. In this grueling competition consisting of a one-mile swim, 20-mile bike ride and six-mile run, Barringer, pausing when asked, said he finished dead last.
“I got lost on the cycling part because I went 10 miles in the wrong direction,” he lamented. “I had a mountain bike and everyone else had a racing bike so I couldn’t keep up.”
Not a couch potato, Barring said he would rather watch a You Tube video about philosophy rather than television. However, he doesn’t miss an episode of “Shark Tank,” a business show although he watches it via the internet.
He also attended a 10X Growth Conference in Las Vegas, where entrepreneurs gathered to hear effective business people discuss their success. On hand was Damon John, a prime contributor to “Shark Tank.”
“This type of conference makes you think outside the box,” Barringer said. “It opened me up with a bigger perspective such as ‘How can I impact the world?’
“Everyone should have a social goal. Your life should contribute to make the world a better place. Live to your fullest potential,” he said.
“I’m really about self-development and self-improvement,” Barringer said. “Life’s about learning every day.”
Doesn’t sound like a millennial, does it?