I was born in Wisconsin, but I’m kind of I call myself a mutt because I moved everywhere. My dad, mom and sister and I moved around every four years of my life as my dad was in the textile industry. Because we did move around so much, we were all very close. It was interesting when we got to new locations because we got to start over new and fresh every time. Moving as much as we did made it a lot easier to adapt to my surroundings and it made me more well-rounded.
When we were not moving cities, I remember we would go to Walt Disney World as much as we could for vacation. While we did not travel for vacation a lot, we probably traveled more than the typical people did back then. My dad did have an adventurous spirit in him, he liked to get out, we would go somewhere for the weekend, you know, always be doing something.
After I left home, I went to Georgia Southern University. I majored in Broadcasting Communication Arts and I did the Disney College Program and that experience was life-changing – I mean it was unbelievable. I worked in the Magic Kingdom and I literally dressed up as a pirate every day selling merchandise at the Pirates of Caribbean attraction. While I was there, I learned about selling, merchandising and customer service. And I mean, you can’t ask for a better company to learn those things from then Disney, can you? Looking back, every job interview I’ve ever done afterward, people noticed my resume and say, “Oh, I see you worked for Disney.” My parents always told me that when I came back after that summer, they noticed how much I changed like I was a different person, more confident and independent. So, it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to any college student.
While at college at Georgia Southern, I thought I wanted to be a news reporter. When it came time to do my internship in Greenville, South Carolina at WSPA, they would send me out with the camera guy and a microphone to go and interview people. But the more I learned about the profession, I started realizing this was not the profession for me and after graduating in 1997, I had to move back home with my parents in Greenville, South Carolina because I could not find a job as at that time jobs were so hard to get right out of college. So, for the time being, I worked a temporary job at the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau and I ended up meeting my husband there; he worked for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. I also worked in marketing and advertising along the way. Soon after I got married and we started having kids (Eric, who is now 17 and Ava who is 15). I stayed home with them for seven years to be a stay at home mom. We were now living in Fort Mill and about 11 years ago, I talked to someone I knew who was selling Disney vacations; they were a Disney travel agent and it sparked my interest. We met for lunch so we could talk more about what she did. At the time I was not interested in going back to work, I really just wanted to find out more about what she did, however, I ended up getting hired on the spot by her boss because of my work experience with the Disney Company and my marketing, sales and advertising knowledge. When I was hired, it was during the recession and ideally, you don’t start a business during the recession, like that’s not the smartest thing to do – but I did. I learned on my own working out of my house and worked long hard hours. With travel, you have a host agency to run the travel bookings through, but I have my own LLC and my own corporation, so I am my own boss. I expanded to selling not only Disney but now specialize in tropical destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii and all cruise lines as I had to grow with my clients. I feel that part of my success is the wonderful clients I have been blessed with planning vacations for by living here in Fort Mill and in Baxter Village. Because I stopped moving and have lived here for 13 years, 11 of which I have had my business, I am able to have made so many connections, which is very helpful. I love partnering with local businesses in the area and collaborate to promote and help each other. Having social media has also been huge for my travel business. Just the people telling people about me has been amazing. Because of my remarkable clients, I ended up going over a million dollars in annual sales and two years ago Travel Weekly magazine voted me as one of their 25 agents in the US and it’s crazy.
My goal is to create magical, lifetime memory-making vacations for my clients. I believe in treating my clients like I want to be treated, whether that means I am responding back to them quickly or making sure they are placed in the perfect vacation location based on the needs and desires for each individual client. I think just going above and beyond anybody’s expectations will always win for a business, so I try to do that as much as possible as well.
In the beginning, I had a really hard time with work/life balance because I work from home. I was there all the time, and I still I’m there all the time, so it was hard to separate the two. And my poor kids, pretty much have been raised with me on the computer working or on the phone 24/7. However, a few years ago, I consciously started working smarter; I’ve created business hours, and I hired an assistant, which has been amazing, and she has been my right-hand woman and I had to learn how to delegate. In doing these things, I was recently able to take my own vacation without working, which was fabulous!