Ladies We Love is a monthly interview series with women from around the world that provide us with inspiration through their travels and personal stories. This week we got to know travel writer and entrepreneur Stephanie Be of TravelBreak.
She’s a UCLA alum that traded cooperate America for a gap year and never looked back. Stephanie Be is a successful travel writer who has visited over 42 countries and has been featured in Forbes, CNN, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Bazaar and more. She’s also an inspirational entrepreneur who recently stepped into the male dominated technology world to launch her own travel app!
1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, where do you live now, and how you got into travel blogging?
Hello hello to my fellow lovers of travel! I’m Stephanie Be, a California girl who has traveled to over 250 destinations around the world and circled back to Los Angeles. I cover adventure, lifestyle and motivation on TravelBreak.net and @StephBeTravel. From glacier-hiking in Patagonia to the Wildebeest Migration in Serengeti National Park, I help you get the most out of your weekend or bucket-list trip.
I’ve studied abroad while a student at UCLA, lived as an expat in Sydney, worked remote while traveling (not related to the tourism industry) and now work in the lifestyle and travel industry — as a travel blogger, destination marketing consultant, and integrating tech! I’m currently building BUENA: “Swipe Right on Your Weekend” to upgrade the way we discover, plan, book, and share experiences.
2) What do you enjoy most about blogging? What’s the hardest aspect?
Things I love about blogging:
Creative freedom. Having a voice. Meeting people. The challenge. Work-life balance.
Blogging allows you to be your own boss and an artist at the same time. It gives you agency and credibility. However, the best bit is how I’m constantly meeting new people, from the entrepreneur with a fruit stand in Vietnam to the owners of the world’s most beautiful hotels. I also love how blogging is always changing, always a hustle — and always worth it!
3) You just launched a travel app! Congrats! Tell us about it!
Thank you! BUENA is currently in Beta Testing, and you can sign up for our waitlist on www.BUENA.Life — like the Good Life! It allows users to sync their social media to create lists of their favorite places that are easy to share with friends; it also includes a Tinder-Life discovery feed. I created BUENA because of the way the blogging community has changed the way we find the best things to do.
What I’ve always loved about discovering places from fellow bloggers is the personalized aspect. It’s recommendations from a real person that’s done it. When I feel like I know a blogger, “Instagrammer” or Youtube star, I can trust their judgment more than some complete faceless stranger. There’s enough there for me to trust their taste.
However, blogging, social media and online magazines have become saturated with content. BUENA takes the social posts from friends (in your everyday life) and influencers you follow and makes them into organized lists.
Creating an itinerary has never been this easy, and booking has never been this personalized! It works for that waterfall hike, restaurants, bars and destinations. Sign up for our waitlist at www.buena.life, we’re going public in AUGUST! Oooh
4) What has your experience been like as a woman in tech?
Quite frankly, I have had some terrible experiences unique to being female with my first business (TravelBreak) and my second company in tech (BUENA). When I wanted to scale my first business (do more with TravelBreak), I reached out to the only billionaire I know, and he told me I should be more focused on getting married while I’m “still young.” He made a half-joke about how I was “still pretty enough to marry rich.”
The first tech angel investor I pitched in Los Angeles told me that I should find a male engineer co-founder. She said she couldn’t take BUENA to the angels in her fund because they’d attribute the success of my first business (TravelBreak) to the way I look — as opposed to my ability to create and execute on ideas.
I’ve refused working with people who I’ve met in an office setting (while wearing a suit — not that it should matter), who later send me inappropriate direct messages like “nice legs.” These are just a couple examples of how I am treated by some people as a woman in tech. I was hyper-aware of my appearance, what I was going to wear and post when I started BUENA, and eventually relaxed. People who don’t believe women can be leaders are going to judge you no matter what you’re wearing!
That being said, there are countless people who have been supportive of BUENA. BUENA has been accepted into the emerging companies portfolio by Latham & Watkins, the #1 law firm in the world (it represents AEG, Goldman Sachs etc). We currently have THREE 2x Founders on our team, we’re angel-backed, and we have over three team members… half of us women!
I also helping Founder Meet Funder (speed dating for investors & entrepreneurs) in producing the first female-only founders Founder Meet Funder event! And started bringing people together on my own.
If there’s any advice I can give women that are interested in traveling solo, starting a business and/or working in tech — it can be summed up as follows:
You don’t have to be who people want you to be, you can create the life you envision.
5) Weird fact about you most people don’t know?
I’ve been shark diving twice, but I’m terribly afraid of drowning!
6) Favorite travel quote?
“Great things never come from comfort zones.”
7) Is there anything you feel you could have done better since you became a travel writer?
I don’t really have any regrets. I think that’s why I’m so happy. There have been challenges, mistakes and blessings in traveling and starting a business. Some days, it’s easier than others, but I wouldn’t be who I am today, if I hadn’t lived those challenges and sacrifices.
8) Top 3 places you would suggest for a girls getaway?
USA West Coast Road Trip
9) What destination is currently at the top of your bucket list?
Switzerland, Philippines, and the Maldives.
10) Do you have any suggestions for other women who want to break into travel blogging or launch their own app?
I think people who pursue blogging and apps are dreamers — in the best way! However, if you’re looking to build a business, and not just do it as a hobby, it is absolutely critical that you do the following:
Always be learning. When I started blogging, I learned to build a website, run SEO, edit photos etc. Take a couple classes online and get tips from mentors; but learn to do things yourself.
Know your numbers! Blogging and (most) apps aren’t a business in themselves. They’re platforms to promote a business. Know how you’ll monetize, create cost-reductions, and stay lean.
Find Value-Added. Whether it’s for readers, other people in media, the team your recruit, businesses, etc — make yourself worthy — then know your worth!
Last point of advice:
Remember that you don’t have to start a blog to travel the world. I went to 24 countries before starting TravelBreak. You can work in the tourism industry; alternatively, consider a secure career route and a gap year (or gap months) in between careers. Also, consider a profession with a flexible schedule (like sales or real-estate).
WE are creating the standard for work-life balance, and it doesn’t have to be instagram-model or die in a cubicle. It’s up to us to shape our culture!
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