19 May 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
As part of our popular Female Founder Spotlight series we caught up with Caroline Sande to find out about her exciting entrepreneurship journey.
“My name is Caroline Sande I am a creative and travel content creator, with an entrepreneurial streak sprinkled with a love for travel the brand “TravelEatSlay” was born. A travel collective and apparel brand TravelEatSlay, aims to create lasting travel memories through collaboration and community.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Through personal travels and working for a company that allowed me to fulfil my globetrotting desires I was inspired to create a travel community and brand offering apparel for millennials. When I was starting off, back in 2016 travel was not as popular within the UK amongst millennials, nor did it feature or represent black travellers unlike in the US. With the help of social media, I was able to find and draw inspiration from US based travel community groups and noticing this gap in the market I was determined to start something for myself in the UK.
How did you achieve awareness?
Realising the power of social media amongst my target market, I tapped into the influencer marketing strategy. From reaching out to travel influencers, bloggers, travel publications and other small businesses to create brand synergies this enabled me to gain some brand exposure. Wearing the merchandise while I travelled for work was another avenue of spreading awareness. By expanding the TravelEatSlay brand to hosting day trips, events and local adventures uniting solo, like-minded jet setters this has created opportunities for brand awareness. It is safe to say that you need to experiment a lot to achieve awareness.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The brand is self-funded, which was made possible from my savings from my former full-time job. Something which has come with its own limitations when it comes to expanding the apparel line or spending on marketing strategies for example. Though I am proud of how I have managed to grow the brand organically, external funding is something I am now looking into.
What are the key successes?
As a small brand having my apparel worn by influential travel bloggers the likes of Sherrie Silver (African Dance Choreographer) or social influencers like the Hermon and Heroda @BeingHer twins, Eulanda and Omo of @DipYourToesIn and Cassandra of @CoachCassFit is a great feeling.
In 2019 I hosted 12 group trips around European cities and worked with amazing tourism boards such as VisitStockhom and Visit Gdansk to promote their destinations along with being featured in media publications. In 2020, I spearheaded The Black Travel Directory, a directory of over 250 Black-owned brands, content creators, bloggers and industry service providers, to address lack of diversity in the travel industry. During the pandemic I created The Travel Boxx a first of its own kind quarterly subscription box for travel essential items.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Being a one-woman business, I wear all the hats from marketing, to sourcing products and securing brand deals. It can become too much to handle and of course some things can be over-looked. Being able to prioritise and juggle the different roles keeps me on my toes. With zero e-commerce experience, I certainly hit some bumps at the beginning. From problems with printing suppliers to not tracking postal orders and them being lost and having to resend the orders. But this is all part of the learning curve.
Experimenting with different strategies of growing my brand was sometimes hit and miss including Google Ads, website building, and hours spent on self-development seminars. Knowing where to begin when starting a subscription service was incredibly challenging and frustrating but my determination led me to reach out to other small brands who had started subscriptions boxes to get some advice and guidance.
What are your plans now/for the future?
At present I am focused on growing the new extension of my brand. The Travel Boxx was born out of conversations with my peers – fellow content creators and entrepreneurs – on a lack of a single trusted subscription service that can provide all the essentials travellers need in one box. Customers get to try out products and gadgets from brands they may not have otherwise discovered and can enjoy exclusive member-only discounts at the same time too.
Building a team is also in the future plans.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Do not wait for perfection before you start. You must be resilient and mentally prepared. Do not let the setbacks put you off your vision. If you are not passionate about your brand/business most likely you will be quick to throw in the towel when challenges come.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Do not compare other people’s success to yours. Stay focused in your own lane.
Challenges will come however it is how you bounce back that matters.
Make sure you invest in your own self-development and skills.
One size doesn’t fit all in the game of entrepreneurship. It can stretch you mentally, physically and professionally. You need to be adaptable.
Celebrate every small win, they matter and this will keep you going ahead of the big win.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
My sisters (Lynn & Cynthia) because they taught me how to be a fearless, independent woman. Thank you.
Eulanda Shead Osagiede all round travel content creator, writer, photographer
Evita Robinson a pioneer within the black travel community and founder of Nomadness Travel
Winnie Rioba a Kenyan adventure travel blogger showcasing African travel
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. Jeremiah 29:11
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?
@traveleatslay on IG, Twitter & Facebook
@thetravelboxx on IG, Twitter & Facebook