Rise’s Radical Renegade is a monthly series featuring interviews with trailblazing career mavens. Meet Vanessa Rivers, co-founder of We Are Travel Girls – a global travel community created to inspire, connect, educate and empower female travelers around the world. Vanessa also hosts Glitter&Mud where you’ll find luxury reviews, unique surf getaways, romantic destinations, and family fun travel!
Why did you start your company and what motivates you every day?
I met my business partner, Becky van Dijk, in London in 2015. We quickly bonded over a mutual love for travel and decided to create We Are Travel Girls – a community to inspire women to get out of their comfort zone and see the world! At the time we met there were no global travel blogs that consistently shared travel articles from women around the world. So, we decided to create a website to promote female travel bloggers and bring together women from all around the globe, publishing five new, authentic, travel articles every week. Since We Are Travel Girls launched in 2016 we have expanded our brand to host events and meet-ups all over the world, curate bespoke luxury women’s only trips through Travel Girls Getaways, and this year we proudly launched the charity branch of our company to give back through Travel Girls Giving. Our mission is to inspire, connect, educate and empower female travelers!
What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
The biggest lesson I have learned so far is if you want to own your own (successful) company you should try to find a good business partner, and be prepared to work harder than you have ever worked in your life! I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was in elementary school when I was selling puff paint t-shirts to my classmates and breeding guinea pigs to sell to the local pet store. In college I started a surf lesson company and then went on to start my eco bikini line SummerLoveSwimwear. I’ve always had the drive and passion to succeed in my business pursuits, but I also knew I needed a business partner that is strong in the areas I am weak. I found that in Becky van Dijk and together we were able to grow We Are Travel Girls into a profitable travel company in less than two years. Two heads are definitely better than one and when you have two people, each pouring their heart and soul into something, it is amazing what you can accomplish!
Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
When we first started We Are Travel Girls Becky and I were both living in London. This made it very easy for us to get together weekly to work on the company. Soon after we launched Becky moved to Bali and so we had to face the challenge of no longer being able to work in person together on things. It takes a lot longer to get certain things done when you aren’t physically in the same place but we have found ways to work around this. We have weekly FaceTime meetings and we use Asana project management to task ourselves and each other work that needs to be done. I am living back in LA now and Becky is back in London but she is planning to move to CA in the near future. I am excited we will be able to work together in person at least once a week soon. It is really good if you can find a way to physically work side by side with our business partner(s) and employees at least some of the time as this is when so many great ideas come about!
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?
I you don’t love what you are doing go do something else! I know this is easier said than done but life is too short to not being doing something you love. Reinvent yourself! There are millions of amazing jobs out there that you have never even heard of, and if you can’t find the job you want create it!
We all know how difficult work/life balance is, how do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?
I am still struggling with this and I think I always will be. My daughter will be two years old next month and I have to be honest it has not been easy to juggle work, and being a mom. One thing that helps me though is that I have set hours in each day that are mom time and work time and I try hard to stick to these and when I am in either role I am very concentrated on what I am doing. When I am with my daughter I put my cell phone away and I try to enjoy every moment with her and be present with her, so that I do not feel bad for the time I am away from her working on We Are Travel Girls or hosting our Travel Girls Getaways.
We love to support women-founded ventures. Is there a company/product that you’ve come across recently that you think more people should know about?
There are so many but we recently did a collaboration with Racysuits for our first Travel Girls Getaways ski trip. The Founder, Marina Barnes, has worked incredibly hard to build a fun ski suit company based on the legacy of her grandparents neon racing suits that they made and wore for USSA Alpine Masters ski races! I love the story behind the brand and that Marina has created and grown this company all on her own, from the ground up!