We sat down with Libryia Jones, Senior Project Manager, to talk about her business Wanderist Life, which is a finalist for the Tory Burch Foundation Fellows Program.
Walk us through what being a Tory Burch Foundation Finalist means for you? How does it shape what you’re doing for Wanderist Life?
It’s a huge deal. Wanderist Life started from my own paychecks a single mom with no savings or investments. Having to support your business by yourself can be an uphill battle, and unfortunately many women are in that position.
Working with the Tory Burch Foundation is a huge step up to level the playing field. Having access to capital and resources will allow me to do so much more
Speaking of Wanderist Life, tell us a little bit more about how you started Wanderist Life?
I was having a conversation with a coworker about how we love to travel. She was single and had no kids, so I mentioned a program to her that would let her travel abroad for a year. She asked me why I couldn’t go and it was because the program didn’t allow children to go.
I began thinking, “I should just create a program for myself.” At first, it was only a joke and not something that I actually considered doing. But five days later I bought a web domain, and the day after that I woke up at 4 a.m. with ideas pouring out of me. Then the next day, I again woke up at 4 a.m. with more great ideas. Soon, Wanderist Life began to take shape.
Ultimately, I saw something that wasn’t available to me and the only remedy was to make it available to myself. Wanderist Life became something I could share with other people.
How has your experience with North Highland help to shape Wanderist Life?
I’m overwhelmed with the idea that my employer is taking an interest in my entrepreneurship. I’m privileged to work at North Highland – to work with smart people and to have access to mentors both professionally and in my own business ventures. It’s truly a place where I can grow both my career and my business
What are the most important things you’ve learned through your experiences at Wanderist Life?
I’ve learned two important lessons. First, I’ve learned that you can’t do everything yourself. You can’t do it alone. I couldn’t have launched this company or complete a year abroad without help. It takes a team
The second thing I learned is that you need to believe you can do anything. If everyone believed that they can achieve anything they wanted, we would all be living out our dreams. Sometimes our dreams can be intimidating. While creating Wanderist Life, I was waking up thinking, “Who are you? This project is way too big for you.” Instead of getting intimidated by a big goal, I focused on a project I can do today. Each day I’d accomplish one thing, whether it’s creating a graphic, making a phone call or sending an email. These little things add up to something big and great.
What moments of Wanderlist Life do you look back most fondly on?
After traveling for an entire year, we were at a farewell dinner and everyone at the table said something about someone else in the program and how their lives have been impacted. At this dinner I realized that people’s lives really did change because of Wanderist Life. People who were all strangers to each other before the program were now family.
One of the young ladies was able to spend the year building her own business. She had the ability to focus on living her life and not worrying about taking care of herself and her business – Wanderist Life took care of everything else for her. She was able to get her business profitable within one year.
What are your goals for 2018?
This year, we’re launching the next year abroad. We’re also launching one-month experiences. We started beta testing one-month experiences last year and received great feedback, so we’re in the process of staffing one-month experiences and building community management teams to keep it
What’s next for Wanderist Life?
The next step is scaling to be able to run multiple experiences at once. I’d also like to branch out to provide theme experiences, like a gap year for high school grads, a U.S. tour and a cooking immersion program.
Where do you want to travel to next?
I’m dying to go to the Maldives. Then possibly Croatia and Nigeria.
Voting for the Tory Burch Fellows Program is open until Tuesday, April 3. Click here to vote today!