One phone call in March 2020 was all it took to know that my life was changing. I lost the job I loved, colleagues to laugh with, and work that fulfilled a sense of purpose. The career that defined who I was for over 20 years was no longer in front of me.
I have been part of the hospitality industry since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management & Tourism from Arizona State University. My internship with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau turned into 10 years working for this world-class destination. As I reached new heights with my career, an opportunity to oversee the leisure sales and international department at the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau was the next chapter for six years. In 2016, I left the desert and resort lifestyle for city lights, Hollywood and downtown living. Spending the next four years with Los Angeles Tourism promoting L.A. as the top tourism destination for international travelers.
No one knew the impact this virus would bring to our industry. I traveled to India and Mexico in early 2020, and it wasn’t until events canceled, trade shows postponed, airlines halted, and borders closed that we knew this was larger than anything we imaged. When I was laid off, I made the decision to be with family during this unfamiliar time. My entire adult life was on the west coast in Arizona and California and now Minnesota was calling me back home.
I put all my belongings in storage, packed up my SUV and drove 1,900 miles from Los Angeles to Minneapolis. The drive across country gave me the time to reflect on what just happened. It was also calming, quiet, tranquil, and exactly what I needed.
As the months passed, I started to rethink my future career path. What jobs would be available in the industry? Do I go back working for a CVB? I had so many unknowns, but I allowed myself to reset and not feel guilty about not working. I needed (like many of us) to have this time to truly be present and slow down.
It wasn’t until October 2020, that an idea started to formulate, and I got excited about taking a step into entrepreneurship. During the summer, I played golf with women who enjoyed golf socially, competitively and could not wait to travel on a golf trip. I collaborated with a dear friend from the tourism industry, and together we cofounded Women on Fairways, LLC. A luxury golf and lifestyle travel company catering to women golfers.
My vision that I could start a company in the industry that I love, showcase my years of experience in tourism and connect it with my passion for golf became a reality. I am continuously learning how to run a business and take time to celebrate all the little wins. One of my favorite quotes is “you are not starting over but starting from experience.” Something I remind myself every day. The one thing I love about our industry is the people! I have reconnected with so many friends and former colleagues who support my new journey and excited to watch this company grow. Being a part of groups like Women in Travel THRIVE provide a platform and mentorship that is invaluable as we all try to navigate the new normal of our industry. I am still in awe of where I was with so many unknowns and fast forward to today, where I have leaped into entrepreneurship and defining my life. This journey is about my next 20 years.