Where did your love for travel begin?
It was 2010, the year I graduated college and I had never been out of the country. The only thing I wanted to do when I graduated was to see the world because it was something I had dreamed about my entire life. I'd gone on crazy adventures with my family - like whitewater rafting - but only around the US. l actually had my own river raft before I could drive a car. So I had this sense of adventure from my childhood. When I was able to finally go abroad, I traveled to five different countries all around Europe and my love for travel really started there. That was what got me addicted to traveling the world.
Who or what inspired you growing up?
I come from the fashion industry so what inspired me with travel was seeing the different fashion weeks in cities like Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. I think that really sparked something special and inspired me to learn more about those cultures along with their fashion. So I don't think it's one person necessarily that inspired me but I think it’s what kind of style comes from those cities, which is why my company is fashion for your travel.
So is that how the idea for Trvl Porter was born?
It comes from a few things, starting with my background as a designer turned stylist. But what happened was I was traveling and had an airline lose my luggage, which gave me a huge aha moment of what if I could arrive at my destination and my wardrobe was waiting for me? I did a lot of research and found that there is a big problem that Trvl Porter would be solving and not just for packing and planning outfits. With my fashion background, I also really saw the opportunity for rental clothing to come into play here so that travelers could wear the clothing at their destination and then leave it behind.
Can you explain how Trvl Porter works?
It is like Rent The Runway for travel but more personalized. To start, we capture information about your style, your fit preferences and your trip details. As an example, let’s call this a business trip to Boston two weeks from now. First, we check the weather on our dashboard and then we look at the details of what you're doing on your trip - maybe a conference, a business meeting and a cocktail party. We look at that and then your body type, your sizes and your style. Based on all of this, the traveler gets a personalized lookbook to select what they want to rent and we send the items to their hotel. When they check out, they leave them at the front desk to send back to us. This really is a cool new service that has never existed before to streamline the travel process, so I’m excited to see where it goes.
Trvl Porter is not just a fashion project but an entrepreneurial one as well. Did you have any background in entrepreneurship?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business management. I always thought I wanted my own clothing line. There were multiple things that guided me to change my mind. I began styling and had my first business about seven years ago. A few years later I was approached by someone to design a clothing line and the idea was fashion tech meets custom clothing. This snowballed into becoming a co-founder.. I learned a lot from that experience and it really prepared me for what I'm doing now in my third company as a single founder.
What has your experience as a female entrepreneur been like? Has that affected your business at all?
I’ve always chased my dream and now I hear a lot that people are inspired by what I have achieved, it’s very humbling. I love that I am inspiring or empowering other women to have their own businesses and I’m always happy to help other women. I started being more open about my journey on social media. As a female founder right now, the struggle is the fundraising. Other women tell me how hard it is and I actually appreciate that because I can prepare myself. Only 2% of females receive venture capital. That number is so small it’s crazy (and even smaller for minority women). So I definitely have it in my mind that I’m going to beat the odds and be part of that 2%. I’ll continue to be positive but some days it’s hard to be a female entrepreneur.
An important part of Trvl Porter is also its positive environmental impact. Can you tell me more about that and why it's important?
I would say that is powered by my fashion design background. When I was designing denim and women's clothing we had factories overseas. So I saw firsthand how much waste was happening. Then when I got out of design and into styling, I actually started shopping differently after I came across this documentary called The True Cost. It's about the cost that fashion has on the world - both financially and the damage it does to the environment. After that, I boycotted all the fast fashion because of it’s impact. I became really passionate about being more cautious about where your clothing is coming from and I really got into renting clothing from Rent The Runway. That was the first company that actually started the whole rental revolution and their founder is actually one of my idols. When I started Trvl Porter, I was thinking, I don't want to be another fashion company that contributes to the environment the way other fashion companies do. I want to use existing clothing and connect travelers to fashion. We actually don't own any inventory and that’s really one of my goals as I move the company forward. Right now, the focus is partnering with local boutiques and brands so that they have exposure in front of these travelers and a new audience to discover them.
Why do you think travel is important, especially for women?
I believe it’s self discovery. I did my first solo trip to Bali and that was the best thing I ever did.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to pursue a career within the travel industry?
I didn’t have any knowledge of the travel industry when I came into it and I would say the best advice is to go to every travel networking event and just start making friendships. Connections are everything.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs?
I would say the same thing. Seek out women entrepreneurial groups and start networking. When I first started my styling business, that’s exactly what I did and I met the best people. Every relationship I’ve built, whether in the travel industry or my female business relationships just came from networking and introductions from those women. Anyone can do that, it’s just all about making those connections.
What is your dream for the future of Trvl Porter?
My ultimate dream is to create a company where people can travel anywhere without anything.
Where can people learn more about you?
Stefanie is also offering a discount code for Jetsetters!
Enter code TRVLJEANNETTE25 for $25 off your first travel wardrobe!