Before going into entrepreneurship, Jenn Earley worked in corporate America earning a six-figure salary. At the time, she was running Cultured Vacations, a travel and tour firm, as a side hustle, but she later decided to quit her corporate job in 2018 and run it full-time.
Growing up, Earley has always had a passion for traveling, and starting a traveling agency as a side hustle was just a manifestation of her childhood dreams.
According to Earley, quitting her job took a lot of guts. All she had to show for as an achievement was a travel business that was still standing. “Many agencies closed their doors because of Covid and the pandemic and the impact on their businesses,” she noted.
She built the travel agency to focus on international travel. The firm has organized trips to Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central, and South America, and has served over 1,500 travelers, some of whom have traveled multiple times with the company.
“We create customized itineraries for individuals and groups,” she noted. “We service destination weddings, honeymoons, line anniversaries, and influencer trips just to name a few,” she added, noting, “additionally, we create group travel experiences for women who want to visit far-off destinations like Bali, Dubai!, Johannesburg, and Ghana.”
Despite finding success in the travel and tour industry, the African American entrepreneur notes that the journey has not always been easy. Like other entrepreneurs, she had to cross several hurdles to achieve success.
She singles out her early days in the industry as one of her most challenging periods. According to her, she was overlooked on several occasions.
“I was the small fry at tables versus other agencies that had been around for years with a book of business that looked nothing like you and me,” she said.
Now, Earley says things have improved compared to the challenges she had to deal with when she first started. According to her, there is an increase in the participation of black women in the travel industry, who are gaining recognition for their contributions.
“A few years later, industry associations started to give me a seat at the table and time on the stage to teach and train agencies and other vendors in the space,” she said.
“I love that I’m able to represent and be a voice for this segment in the industry. I also believe I’m able to design experiences for her because I am her! I really enjoy watching travelers experience new destinations.”