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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Jessica Dante

Jessica Dante is a trailblazing figure in the world of travel and social media, having built her online business that boasts a staggering community of 700,000 devoted followers, enabling her to engage with over six million people every month. Jessica began on her journey in 2015 with a tourist YouTube channel as a side hustle, unaware of its potential or that it would eventually become her full-time profession. Today, Jessica is considered a key player in London’s tourist sector. She is the founder of Love and London, where she heads up her digital media brand that caters to travellers from all corners of the globe, facilitating unforgettable experiences while helping them avoid the city’s overhyped and overdone spots. Jessica and her team lead them instead to London’s hidden gems and burgeoning hotspots, with pre-made London itineraries and digital guides that have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. 

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I was born and bred on Long Island, New York, and I attended university at James Madison University. I lived in Florence for a year before moving to the UK, where I have now resided for the past 10 years. I worked in social media before pursuing my own thing. It started as a tourist YouTube channel that eventually became my full-time profession. Today, I head up the digital media brand, Love and London, catering to travellers from all corners of the globe. We facilitate unforgettable experiences while helping them avoid the city’s overhyped and overdone spots. Instead, we guide tourists to London’s hidden gems and burgeoning hotspots, offering pre-made London itineraries and digital guides that have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

How did the idea come to you for the company?
I knew I wanted to do something that I enjoyed but that there was also a market for and that wasn’t being done just yet. It also took some trial and error. I originally thought I’d create general travel content, but as soon as I tried niche London videos, I saw that they were much more successful and that there was a demand for help for London trip planning.

How did you achieve awareness?
By consistently publishing new YouTube videos with tips for visiting London every single week for about two years. That really helped our channel become THE channel for London travel tips early on in the game.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
The business is fully self-funded, and in the first couple of years, I did almost everything myself, so costs were very low. Then when revenue started to come in, I quickly re-invested it back into the business so I could start hiring freelancers, buy better equipment and software, etc.

What are the key successes?

A big turning point for the business is when we started selling our digital London itineraries. It wasn’t our first digital guide but it immediately started outselling our other offering as it fulfilled a need that so many London visitors have. Another big milestone for us was just last year, when at the end of 2023 we realised that our Shopify shop, where we sell our digital guides, made 3x more revenue than in 2022. That not only felt amazing but was such a welcome change from 2020 and 2021, where sales were extremely low during the pandemic.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

Something we deal with a lot is brands not valuing what we offer them. We are constantly asked to create content about a restaurant, bar, tour etc for free or for a free meal.

When we promote businesses, people take our advice and those businesses make money and we have anecdotal evidence of it, and if a brand wants us to give them advertising, they have to pay for it. Of course, COVID was the biggest challenge to date for the business. Because of it, we just broke even in 2020 and thankfully did a bit better in 2021. But every pivot we tried didn’t move the needle, and ultimately, it was just a case of keeping business and personal costs low and riding it out until 2022. I almost threw in the towel at the end of 2021, I was so tired and couldn’t see how I could deal with more surges and restrictions. But in the beginning of 2022, things turned around very quickly and have only gone up since!

What are your plans now/for the future?

Excitingly, we’re in the process of launching Love and Paris! So, we’re replicating what we did here in London for Paris, and the idea is to then do that for a few more cities around Europe and potentially, the world.

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

I think sometimes people wait for permission to start something, and if that’s the kind of person you are, entrepreneurship isn’t for you, because you must do that DAILY when you’re starting and running your own thing. The good news, though, is that you can start with small steps, and that’s the best way to go about it.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Be ruthless in your task management systems, especially as you bring on a team. I’ve been using Asana for almost ten years now, and it tells me exactly what tasks I need to complete each day, and when new things for the future pop up, I add them to my task calendar, so I know when they need to be done. My team also assigns me a ton of tasks that way instead of flooding my inbox.

On that similar note, as you get started, document all of your processes. It will make it easier to train someone up when you bring them on to do that task.

Who are the 3 people who inspire you the most and why?

Taylor Swift is the first because I think she’s one of the smartest marketers in the world. She doesn’t just create music but also ties her songs into album marketing, her socials, and other things that are so clever, and she thinks about how she can do that in the long-term. Plus, she’s a musical genius!

Tori Dunlap from Her First $100K is another woman in business that I really admire. First off, I love that she’s helping millions of women get better with their finances while also building an incredible business of seven figures and up. Plus, she’s a straight-shooter and I love people who are like that (without being a jerk!)

Also, in digital is Patricia Bright who got her start on YouTube way back when, sharing fashion and make up tutorials. She used her earnings to invest in property, stocks, and to create another company.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

“I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is,” Sheryl Sandberg wrote this in her bestselling book “Lean In” and many other highly successful people like Warren Buffett have said similar. It’s not so much a motivational quote as much as a reminder how important it is to choose a partner who’s aligned with your goals and aspirations otherwise it will be much harder to achieve them.

It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable. – Sara Blakely (founder of Spanx). I’ve made a LOT of mistakes running my business and will continue making them. But I’ve learned a ton from those mistakes, and they always help lead us in a new, better direction.

www.loveandlondon.com  & https://www.instagram.com/jessdante/?hl=en