I am excited to introduce our readers to amazing and caring people who live, work, play and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of all lifestyles, talents, and personalities who I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals who make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.
It seems I connect very well with people who are or have been in the food and beverage industry since I made my living as a waiter and bartender for forty-two years. I have had the extreme pleasure of knowing and becoming wonderful friends with Rikke Bahena who is the General Manager of The Loft. Not only that, he is an incredible photographer who has put his talents into a very positive project to include so many people. I’m sure if you are from San Diego, you must have seen it #Together Strong. Rikke is one of the kindest and most loving individuals you will ever meet. It is my pleasure to feature my dear friend who makes the word CHEERS describe both of the worlds he works and lives in and the joyful person he is.
How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it.
San Diego has always been a dream to live in. I started traveling here when I was 15, taking advantage of summer vacation while in school. I have some family here, so it was easy to come and stay with them. They always took me around to go shopping, visit the beach, parks, and so on. Coming from a big city like Mexico City, I found San Diego much quieter and less stressful. Additionally, the scenery close to the water was always so peaceful and beautiful.
Tell our readers about yourself.
As I mentioned, I was born and raised in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world, with a rich history of culture, tradition, and gastronomy. I am proud to be Latino. I received all my education in Catholic private schools, from kindergarten all the way through high school. The university I attended was a private, bilingual institution where I earned my bachelor’s degree in business administration. Throughout my school years, I was always involved in academic activities, earning straight A’s, though I wasn’t very good at sports. In college, I served as the president of the Student Society and collaborated with the university’s rector, professors, and students to create an environment where students could maintain the highest academic standards while also promoting their cultural side through various art forms such as dance, music, and photography.
I started working while still in college at a TV company called TELEVISA, one of the most important companies worldwide. At that time, it was the only company that imported talent, music, soap operas, and more effectively a monopoly. I worked there for five years, heading the training department, organizing training courses, and giving some myself as an instructor to all levels of the company.
After five years, I decided to leave and venture out to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I stayed there for a while but eventually returned to Mexico City. However, I felt the need to explore more and, since I had family in San Diego, I decided to move there. The transition was not easy. Unfortunately, the family member I was supposed to stay with asked me to move out when he found out I was gay. His religious beliefs convinced him that I was a threat to his marriage and child. We no longer talk, but experiences like this build your character. Fortunately, my sister offered to open her doors, even though she was not in the best position to do so. This taught me that the people who help are not necessarily the ones who can but the ones who want to.
I started volunteering for the Saint Vincent de Paul organization, helping with donations that people were bringing due to the big fires that took place in 2004. People started to notice my professional side, and I was hired shortly afterward. A few years later, I met Richard “Omar” Lowry, who was an avid shopper always looking for antiques and other cool things. I met him at a store I was managing. He talked to me about his past experiences, which included being a bartender at #1 Fifth. He offered me a job as a barback temporarily, and from there, he took me under his wing. Thanks to him, I was able to grow and make his business a success. He was like a father figure to me, and I admired and respected him very much. I am proud to have been part of an amazing team and the most successful years of that business. I will cherish those memories always.
For the past two years, I have been General Manager at The Loft, also working with an amazing team, creating a safe space for diversity, inclusion, and love. I have also been a photographer for many years, supporting my community and bringing out the most beautiful side of every person. I founded Project Together Strong, where I paint hands with different flags of the LGBTQ+ community to unite and make it stronger with love. My objective is to raise visibility and let people know that we are awesome human beings!
In your professional life what makes your work stand out and how has it changed your life?
My main objective in all the places where I have worked has been to create a culture of respect and support within my team. I always encourage them to educate themselves more and thrive in different parts of their lives, so that we can be better employees and offer a better experience to our customers. I will always be there to support them and try to help them be the best version of themselves. I feel that a good leader needs to create more leaders so that whenever I am not here, someone can take over the business. All the businesses where I have worked have been successful because I create a different energy of work and relationship with everyone, starting with my reps, my vendors, the drivers, and the neighbors. It is all about creating loyalty and treating everyone with kindness and respect. Knowing this has changed my life because I realized that wherever I go, I can create that energy to be successful myself, as well as for the people around me and the business as well.
One of my latest projects is “Rikke and Fitch” which gives the spotlight to different personalities in our community that help us to be better! Sharing their awesome work and the endless support and love to all of us.
Where do you see yourself in five years and what goals do you have to support living your best life ever?
I don’t think too much about the future, to be honest. I have lost so many people around me. My father died in a car accident when he was just 42 years old. He was always thinking about the future and how he could live a happy life. But I learned that the happiest and best life is here and now. I am grateful every day when I wake up, and I try to be in the best position to open my mind, accept what life brings me, and learn from the difficulties that some days may bring.
I believe that happiness is found in the present moment. It’s when I call my mother and hear her voice, when I take a walk with my dogs, when I exercise in the morning even though I may not always feel like it, when I dance and do ridiculous things. I appreciate these moments, even the ones where I may not feel in high vibration. I accept those moments because they make me human, humble me, and help me realize that I’m perfect with all my mistakes and imperfections too.
Today should be your best life always.
Do you have any nicknames from when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My nicknames have always been Ricky, Ritchie, and even Enrique, although my given name is Ricardo. For my photography business, I created the name “Rikke”, which also doubles as my alter ego. I created a character with that name who is more extroverted and not afraid of success.
I have always had a desire to be a teacher, and at some point, I have fulfilled that dream. I have been a trainer, and by sharing my life experiences, I hope that some people are receptive enough to learn from my adversities and successes.
Who inspires you in life to do your very best and why?
Hands down, my mother has been the biggest inspiration. I’m the person I am because of her. We have been through very tough times because she taught me resilience, kindness, gratitude, and that love prevails. To never beg for love, presence, nor attention. Whoever wants to give you that will always give it to you without conditions.
Nowadays, I have the privilege to take care of my mother in all senses. I call her every day, and I’m very fortunate she is in good health. I make sure she has everything she needs to have a comfortable life.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie and what is your most embarrassing moment?
I don’t really lie much. Even when I’m asked about my age, I say 37! Just kidding, I’m 46, but I try to be as transparent as I can. Well, maybe when I’m depressed, I pretend everything is fine and lie because I don’t want to worry anybody. My most embarrassing moment was probably forgetting the words of a poem in a poetry competition, but I still started all over again and got third place!
If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them?
Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid of change. Create connections with awesome people and treat everyone with kindness because you never know when you’ll run into them and need some help. Cherish the opinions of people you respect; the rest is just noise. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to be funny, ridiculous, or over the top. You don’t need to be a fashionista, but always wear clean clothes and realize that your presence is always important. You never know when you might change someone’s life just by being who you are.
If you enjoy cooking what is your favorite food to cook? If you don’t enjoy cooking, what is your favorite food and what is your favorite restaurant to eat from?
I don’t know how to cook! I know, it’s lame! Even though my mom is an incredible cook, she never let me learn. She always said that my priority was to keep studying and have good grades, and she would take care of everything else. I loved her for that, but nowadays I feel like there are some things I could have learned from her.
Anyway, I love Mexican food, Italian, and sushi! I think I just love food in general!
Gratitude is so important in each of our lives, what are you most grateful for, and how do you pay it forward?
I’m grateful every day to have the capacity to choose how my day is going to go. I’m grateful to hear my mother’s voice every day, and I’m grateful to know I have the ability to decide what I want to do. I’m grateful to have some memories with my dad that keep him alive in my heart. I’m grateful for the people that surround me, my friends for their love and support, and my partners I’ve had because they taught me how to love myself. I’m grateful for my dogs who give unconditional love, for my family, for my work, for my health, and for the opportunity to keep learning. You know when I pay it forward. It’s when I share my work through my actions, respect, and love always love.