-Words by TESS VAN STRAATEN Photography by DON DENTON
For Daniel Caicedo and his wife, Beatriz Carmona, Victoria is a long way from their native Colombia, and their flourishing Victoria Restorations business is something they never could have envisioned when they immigrated to Canada 16 years ago looking for a better life.
“My wife was pregnant with our first child when we came to Canada,” Daniel says. “We were facing all the odds of being newcomers with no English, no family, no friends and no money—and then opening a business in a foreign land.”
Specializing in Venetian plastering, concrete finishing, heritage restoration and the application of tadelakt (limestone) imported from Marrakesh, Daniel and the Victoria Restorations team are now sought after by some of Vancouver Island’s top builders and designers. It’s all the more impressive given that Daniel had no construction experience before moving to Canada, and never thought he would work in the construction industry.
“I was working for 14 years in two of the biggest newspapers in Colombia as a graphic designer,” Daniel explains. “I was quite good and thought that’s what I would do here. But there were no doors open to me. I knocked on the door many times at [a local newspaper] and was expecting to work there, but nothing happened.”
To earn a living, Daniel accepted a job in construction and admits the adjustment was quite hard initially—especially physically.
“The funny thing is at the beginning, my hands looked like I was a computer guy,” he says with a laugh. “Soft and I had no calluses. After starting construction, I had calluses and blisters, and now I can work with anything and they never show up.”
After learning the concrete finishing trade and getting valuable experience, Daniel decided to branch out on his own in 2008 with Beatriz’s help. An accountant and self-described “enterprising woman since her university years,” Beatriz keeps things running smoothly as the company’s administrative director.
“We weren’t able to do a lot of marketing at the beginning, but through friends at the church who used to own companies that did construction, we started working,” explains Beatriz. “They really appreciated the quality of the work and requested more, and word spread.”
Friends told the couple—who now have three children—that it would be very hard and cautioned them against starting a business. But they did it anyway, guided by their strong sense of faith and a willingness to put in all the hard work and effort to make it a success.
“We have learned perseverance, discipline, optimism and patience,” Daniel says. “We’ve learned how to read the client’s needs so we can come up with a solution. But the most important thing we have learned is to trust in God.”
In 2017, Daniel and Beatriz took another leap of faith—venturing into the application of both tadelakt and Venetian plaster imported from Italy.
“Venetian plaster is something very popular in Colombia, but when we asked about it here, it was not well known,” Daniel explains. “They would bring people in from Vancouver or California, so we got curious about offering it as a plus for our clients to give them something unique and a more high-end look and finish.”
Travelling to Italy, England and Morocco for training, and to Colombia to learn about gold/silver leaf applications, Daniel discovered his passion.
“It’s hand-applied and very artistic and every one we do is unique,” he says. “We like creation and we love it when people see the final product and they’re like, ‘wow!’”
Whether it’s a feature wall, fireplace, shower, steam room or even an entire house, Daniel creates pieces of art and transforms ordinary spaces into extraordinary spaces. He’s travelled to the Lower Mainland to work on luxury projects and to other parts of Vancouver Island, including Nanoose Bay and Ladysmith, and undertook a massive project on one of the Gulf Islands that took three months to complete.
“It’s exciting to know we are getting to do some of the most luxury projects on the island and to have the opportunity to do unique works for each one, and to see the faces of our customers happy and thankful for the beautiful look of their special space,” he says.
As word of mouth spreads, and the business continues to grow, Daniel and Beatriz hope to expand even further.
“We are eager to transcend geography,” Daniel says. “Our plan is to continue serving the province and go pretty much wherever our customers need us.”