Hello, all you beautiful souls! Today, I’m going to share my professional career going from my Corporate 9-5 to becoming a Forbes-featured world-traveling entrepreneur.
I know some of you may have been following my story for years on Instagram and others may be new. My main goal with this piece is to make you feel inspired, and get to a point where if you want to make a change in your life, you feel empowered to do so. Right. Now. And ultimately, if you want to travel the world and work for yourself, I hope you’ll realize, “If she can do it, I can do it too.”
So I’m going to break down The Wanderlover story: from 9-5 to world-traveling entrepreneur, very transparently into four chapters of my professional career. And after each chapter, I’ll share my main takeaways. The first chapter is straight out of college: I accepted my full-time offer from my summer internship at a large bank in New York City.
The second chapter, not many people know about because I didn’t go public with it, but I call it my “take action and make mistakes” phase. While I was at the bank, I started dropshipping. I started importing products to sell on Amazon FBA. This was also when I was starting to build The Wanderlover as a features page. The third chapter is when I officially quit my corporate job and became a full-time entrepreneur and travel influencer and started living around the world.
The final chapter where The Wanderlover is today is not only content creation, but also business mentorship and providing business resources with the mission to enable travel and freedom through entrepreneurship.
What I find so valuable about building everything and going through all these chapters is I’ve learned so much about myself, about online business, about my passions, and this is what I’m going to stress over and over going forward: you will need that take action and change and make mistakes in order to grow and learn about what you want to do and learn about your business.
That is how I’m able to now help my clients do the same to find what they love and give them the tools they need to succeed. Thanks again for being here and let’s get started!
Chapter 1: My Corporate Days
I studied Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. It’s funny actually – I was a teacher’s assistant for an entrepreneurship speaker series class, and I remember there would just be so many successful entrepreneurs coming in and talking about their businesses.
But back then, I honestly didn’t know what it was about the curriculum or about my mindset or my environment… I specifically remember just thinking entrepreneurship wasn’t for me. I didn’t have the resources, the connections, or the money to pursue that route and that it was super risky. I told one of my friends that after graduation, I really wanted to find a stable corporate job. So when I graduated, I accepted my full time offer from my previous summer internship at a bank in New York city.
I was making $75,000 a year straight out of college with a $5,000 sign on bonus. And this was very comfortable. I was happy. I was 21 or 22 in a big city, and I’ve always wanted to live in New York City. I was so excited to start this chapter and I thought I had made it. I was living with my best friend and we found an apartment in the heart of New York City and I was just going out all the time and eating out and life was pretty good.
I’m super grateful for that experience. But what had happened is after I started working, I kind of knew in the back of my head, I didn’t want to be in finance forever; I wanted it to be just a really good experience to start my corporate job and just learn as much as I could.
It was good money and I guess it wasn’t until maybe a few months in when I started to realize just how repetitive and how insignificant I felt at a giant corporation, to the point where I was like, “I’m a cog in the wheel.” And these are my feelings and my experiences – I know some people who thrive in this corporate environment and I admire that. But for me at the time, I would wake up before the sun rose and I left work after the sun set.
My first year at the bank, I was actually at a desk that wasn’t lit by sunlight because all the rooms and windows on the outside edges of the floor were for executives. So I was a starting analyst and I was in the middle of a floor with no windows. I love sunlight, I love the outdoors and the environment. It was just so draining for me to the point where I’ll look back think of the office as a very dark and dismal place. And I remember one day I was looking around, looking at my executives, looking at my VPs, all the people around me, and it just kind of clicked in my head that if I were to stay on this path in five years, or in 10 years time, I would end up in their position.
I asked myself, do I want to be in that position in five or 10 years time? Do I want to be doing the same tasks working for the same company, but just at a different desk with more work?
One thing I’m really grateful for is I met one of my best friends working at the bank and we would send each other messages on messenger during the day. And she sent me a news article about these two girls from America who quit their corporate jobs and move to Bali.
I remember seeing this video, I believe it was in USA Today. And they were talking about remote working, working from their laptops, working for themselves, working from coworking spaces in Bali – and it just looked so magical. While this was all going on every day, I would look at influencers and digital nomads on Instagram, and they were all like around the same age as me and I wanted to be like them.
I just had that feeling where deep down I was a creative, I never practiced it or expressed it, but I felt like I was such a creative person and I wasn’t expressing that part of me day to day. And I believed in my intelligence, you know, I was like, I’m pretty smart. Why am I in this position? I could probably figure out a way to make this entrepreneurship thing work for myself, where I could have like the freedom to travel and.
I think it was really having those people who I looked up to who were maybe a few steps or many steps ahead ahead of me and having those people to look up to really made me realize that that was the direction I wanted to go. Go on. That was the path I wanted to be on. That’s where I wanted to end up and if I stayed in the corporate path, I would never get there. Because my executives, my VPs were on this path and I, I was looking at another path and I just knew that this other path was for me. So again, I’m so grateful or my corporate experience in New York City. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.
If I didn’t go through that, I was in a different mindset before – I thought I wanted to be in Corporate. I thought I really wanted the stability and it was only until I completely immersed myself in that way. And I realized, no, I, I actually don’t want this. And it taught me so much about organization, time management fighting for my dreams.
My key takeaways from this chapter of feeling stuck and questioning what you want to do, find people you aspire to be. So find people who are five years older than you are 10 years older than you are not even about age, but just like in career paths. Look at their finances, look at their ability to travel, look at whether or not they have a family, you know, like take all those things into consideration and just think, do you want to be the people on your current path or are there other paths that you could possibly look into? For me, it was, those girls in Bali that completely changed my mindset. And it’s also, I feel like when you’re working in corporate, there are so many limiting beliefs and you really, we have to challenge them.
People are going to tell you, you don’t have the experience or like, Who are you to quit your job and to pursue something else? Like you studied finance, you studied marketing, and it’s really up to you to decide whether or not you think you are capable of doing it. And I’m here to tell you, you are so don’t listen to anyone else trying to crush your dreams.
Not everyone will understand you. So surround yourself with people who do you know, like we all hear the quote. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So if all those people are in like finance or consulting, they’re not going to necessarily support you. And it’s not that they have ill intentions or don’t want you to succeed.
It’s just so outside what they know and what they’ve studied and what they’ve worked all their lives. But I guarantee you, there are entrepreneurs, there are podcasters out there. There are creatives. There are once designers and visual nomads and like actors, actresses. There’s so many different industries.
And just because you’re not in one of them right now, doesn’t mean that you can shift into them. So it really start finding those communities and. It’s okay to start over. You don’t have to do the same thing for the rest of your life. I understand for a lot of things, well, they go to college, they find a job straight out of college.
They work in this job and it’s like the path, but it’s okay to question that. It’s okay to start from the beginning when you’re like 30 or 40 years old, it’s never too late to switch and start working towards a life you love. During this time, one of my friends, she gave me a passion planner, which really helped me map out where I wanted to be in one year time in three years time.
And what it does is it breaks out everything you want to accomplish in your life into daily tasks that you could accomplish to help you get to where you want to be. This was life-changing because at this point I wrote down a date that I wanted to quit my job. And so this brings me to the next chapter, which is take action and write your mistakes.
Chapter 2: Take Action & Make Mistakes
So chapter two is my take action and make mistakes phase. And again, I’m going to reiterate this: you have to take action to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. You can journal. You can read, you can listen to podcasts all the time, but it’s not going to work for you if you don’t take action.
So this is when I started dropshipping, when I started Amazon FBA, when I started The Wanderlover as an Instagram where I just like reposted other people’s photos – it’s like so different than what I do now, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t go through that.
I was still working in finance, I hadn’t quit my job yet, but I was completely checked out. And on my passion planner, I had actually set a date when I was going to quit, so it was getting so real. And in my head, I was like, I need to figure out what I’m going to do and how I’m going to make this work if I want to quit. I had no idea how, but I knew I was going to, and this made me so determined and so focused on learning about different industries.
I bought e-courses, I bought eBooks, I watched so many YouTube videos, and I was just trying everything I could during my lunch breaks, after work, to build an online business. I knew I had wanted to move online and I was open, I was so open to all opportunities. When you focus, when you tell the world you want like an online business, you start noticing things in your day to day that you wouldn’t have noticed before.
This was also when I read the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and it completely changed my idea about life, about working in corporate. And he had so many stories about other people who are able to quit their job, and it was so inspirational. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite books and it just opened my eyes to online entrepreneurship and outsourcing.
So after reading that after learning, I started contacting suppliers in China. I started going on Alibaba and AliExpress and importing and designing my own products. My first business venture outside of corporate was setting up a Shopify dropshipping store. And this was all happening during my lunch breaks, after work, and it was so exciting because I was so passionate about this. It didn’t even feel like work.
I was reading and I was building and I was creating and I loved every minute of it. And of course there were difficulties. I was like, I have no idea what I’m doing. Who am I to start my own store? I’m 21 years old, but honestly I just loved the process so much that it didn’t even phase me.
The major, major, major turning point was when I got my first sale. And it was this guy in Germany who saw my Google ad and he bought one of my products and I was ECSTATIC because I think until you land your first client or customer, you’re still dependent on a corporate salary and my entire life, I didn’t know how to make money other than working for someone else.
I always had jobs in high school and jobs in college, and it was always working for someone else and I would get a steady paycheck, but this customer was someone who had bought something that I designed, and it was in no way related to any other business other than my own. And it was just so enlightening and I was so happy.
Around the same time, I was working on my Instagram repost page and growing my following and really curating my Instagram feed. And I started applying to all these influencer networks where they actually send you collaborations to your email every day. And I applied for so many collaborations.
I didn’t know if I was going to like land any of them, but I think it was like within the same few weeks, I landed my first Instagram collaboration with Seamless, where I got like credit to buy food and take photos of it and post it on my page. And again, like not within my niche at all, I was travel, but honestly I was just open to so many opportunities and I thought this is Seamless, this is a great opportunity. And we’re going to try. They asked what price I charged and I said $60. Honestly, looking back, it’s like all that effort I went to create the lighting, to create the actual content took so long and I should have charged more. But I was learning and I was so, so, so happy because I had two streams of income, you know, I had my drop shipping store and I had my Instagram and I didn’t know which one would stick, but the feeling of making money that’s your own that came from nothing was just thrilling.
And as I went on, this went on for a few months. I was working my corporate job completely checked out again. I mean, I was doing my job, I just had no interest in it. And I’d be so excited to go home to post more on Instagram, to like make more sales and learn more about Facebook advertising and Google advertising and this whole rabbit hole that I had no idea even existed when I was working in corporate.
Over time, a lot of that glitz and glamour went away because you realize where your bottlenecks are, where the struggles come up. And for me, I was importing from China and although I had, I later like adopted a drop shipping and fulfilled by Amazon model inventory and shipping is such a headache and having to hold inventory, which is why I shifted off to Amazon. But also shipping is so expensive and I just came across so many shipping delays, so many headaches. And I guess over a few months, I was like, do I really want to continue, is there any way I could streamline this or is this what I want to be focused on?
So that’s when I first started to doubt my business models, but again, I’m learning, I didn’t know if it was going to play out. I was confused, but also excited and a lot of things going on, but that was my first thought. I was like, hmm shipping is expensive and inventory isn’t that great because it takes up like room in my apartment.
This was also when I learned that marketing is so important. When I first launched my dropshipping store, I thought my website is up, people from all over the world are going to buy and I don’t have to do anything. They’re going to find it. This was also like similar to when I launched my blog, I was like, I’m going to launch it. So many people are going to see it and I’m going to get traffic. I have great content. And that’s not how it works. If you have an amazing product or service, but if no one sees it, then you don’t have traffic. You don’t have sales, you don’t have clients for customers. So marketing is so important.
And as I’ve progressed through my entrepreneurship journey, it’s always something that’s so dear to my heart, because I realized how crucial it is to have a solid marketing strategy in place. So this was chapter two, and I feel like this was what I learned so much and grew so much. Next is chapter three, where I feel like my entire life changed and it’s when I started realizing my dreams.
Chapter 3: Full-Time Travel Influencer & Content Creator
Moving on to chapter three, this is where I became a full time entrepreneur and travel influencer. So on my passion planner, I had written that on July 11, 2017, I was going to quit my corporate job. So I submitted my two weeks, two weeks before then. And July 11, 2017 was my last day in finance in corporate.
I still remember when I left the office that day, I broke down crying because I was happy, I was confused. Like, did I really do that? You know, and I started doubting myself, but I think overall, well, it was a very positive, cathartic, freeing sensation and that’s why I just felt so emotional and it became so real.
I had to make it work, right? Like going back to corporate, I mean, was an option, but it’s not something that I wanted to do. So I needed to make sure everything I had already been working on really was able to sustain me and be profitable for the foreseeable future. And so this is when I started hustling like I’ve never hustled before. I was still living in New York City, and I sent out so many emails, I invested in more photography gear, I made sure I knew everything there was to know about Lightroom and photo editing and making sure my feed was the best that it could be presented so that I would land more collaborations.
I signed up for a lot of influencer networks and agencies. I met up with the founders of them to get like the inside scoop on them. And I networked so hard. I actually have a list of all the platforms that I use called a 100+ Platforms That Pay. If you want to also sign up for them, they’re super helpful.
I collaborated with a lot of amazing content creators. There’s a lot of photographers and I promoted my page every single day. I would wake up, spend hours on Instagram, telling other people that posted to use my hashtag. I have a hashtag #thewadnerlover community, and I would go to so many influencer events in New York City.
I was so grateful for this because I lived in a big city and there were other people doing the same thing. It was really easy to meet up with other creators and just find that community where it made me realize like this is possible and while this was going on, I still had my dropshipping company in the background.
So those two things I was working on simultaneously. In October, my ex boyfriend and I took a trip to Italy. And that was when I landed my first collaboration with a hotel. And that was so special because when I was working in corporate, I would be looking at all of these influencer photos and being like, I wish I could work with hotels. And lo and behold, just like a few years later, I had landed my first collaboration and I was ecstatic.
Main takeaway from this is when you want something – this is one of my favorite quotes by Paulo Coelho from the book, The Alchemist: when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
You don’t need to know how you’re going to get there. You just need to say it out loud. This is exactly what you want be specific.
I was just doing a lot, I really had no like specific direction. And in the midst of everything, it was really unfortunate at the time, but my ex-boyfriend and I broke up and we were living together.
And so that was the major, I guess, turning point, because I didn’t have reasons to stay in New York City anymore. Like I quit my job, I was working online, and I thought to myself too, I really want to stay here? There’s nothing holding me here. Why don’t I take the leap and do what I had set out to do when I started on this online entrepreneurship journey, which is to become a digital nomad.
And so all of these things were happening and it was exciting and it was, um, also like kind of anxiety-inducing at the same time. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Like for the past few years of going through college and working, you always knew you had stability, you knew where you were going to be in a month moving up the corporate ladder.
So I thought, hmm, maybe I should move somewhere. I don’t need to stay here. And it was very thrilling. So in February of 2018, I started traveling full time. I left New York and I started in Bali and went to Australia and then came back to the States and once a Morocco and Europe and back to the Caribbean. And, and it was just so freeing.
In college. I had studied abroad in Milan and Hong Kong, so I knew what it felt like to not really have, have a plan. Every weekend, we would travel or go to a new country because flights were $20 round trip.
I was excited to wake up and start living my day, and I think everything just went full circle. This is what I had wanted to do, and I started hopping country to country. I was at the same time, still sending so many emails, creating content for brands that needed more photos or videos, and DMing and emailing so many hotels everywhere that I had traveled to, and really building my portfolio.
And because I had experience with dropshipping and selling online products, I knew how to use Facebook Ads and Google Ads, because that’s how I promoted my dropshipping store. I decided I was going to create a digital product for The Wanderlover.
And so in 2018, I launched the first edition of The Travel Influencer Handbook because that is literally all that I knew, and I put it in a digital book and I started selling it, which was so exciting because it was under The Wanderlover brand. It’s not like I only had content creation services to offer, I was building assets and after months of country hopping, I decided I wanted to settle down somewhere. And again, it goes back to like that story from years ago where I saw those two girls working from a coworking space. And I was like, that’s where I want to be.
I had already visited Bali at that point, and I saw so many digital nomads just working online and it really just felt like my type of people, like that was my community. And so I made the decision that I was going to move to Bali, which was so exciting because in just a few years time, you know, I went from working in this corporate space being like, that’s what I want to do with no idea how to get there.
And as long as you have that goal, I promise it will work out. Just don’t give up. So key takeaways from chapter three: be super specific with your goals. If you want to do something, say what you want to do when you want to do it by. And what you’re trying to achieve from it. If you’re trying to book a vacation, say when. Where are you going to go? Be really specific.
Lesson #2: digital products and services give you freedom. If you have a physical product, you have to deal with the inventory. You have to deal with shipping. You have to deal with overhead. And what I learned from like creating a digital product.
The Travel Influencer Handbook I could literally sell that from anywhere. And I have very little overhead, I just pay like PayPal and Stripe fees, but I don’t have any expenses. So digital products that opened a new gateway of opportunity for me. And the last thing that I want to reiterate from this chapter is when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it, you don’t have to think about whether you, you have the experience or not.
Whether you’re like connected or not. It’s like you don’t need to have anything, just put it out there and start working towards it and silence those limiting beliefs.
Chapter 4: Online Business Mentor
Now the last chapter (for now) and where The Wanderlover is today is from 2019 to 2020 a content creator and business mentor to help others quit their jobs and build online businesses.
When I was in Bali, I started taking on private coaching clients. It started off with Instagram, a lot of people or asking me how to create like an aesthetically pleasing feed, how to their product or service on Instagram, how to brand themselves. So it was very social media focused. And this was also the same time I started investing in masterminds and coaching.
I really wanted to just take, like, learn as much as I could and be surrounded by people who were on the same path as me. Over time, I realized that not only could I help people with their social media, I had built multiple businesses myself, and I really could see from like a bird’s eye view how people should kind of rearrange or reorganize and build their businesses from the ground up in order to see the same kinds of success.
Sometimes when you’re working on your business yourself, it’s hard to see where your weak points are and you really need a coach to step in here and tell you what you need to be working on. Kind of help you see your blind spots. Right? And so over time, I went from social media consulting into business coaching, and this shift is still happening.
I don’t know where The Wanderlover is going to be in a few years, but my mission right now is to help people build online businesses. Because for me, online business is what helped me get to where I am today. Like helped me leave my corporate job, helped me reach so many people around the world and be able to work with them and have the systems in place. Have the email marketing, have the Instagram, have the website in place to really reach my target audience. And it’s so exciting. But back when I was in corporate, I didn’t know that this existed because I wasn’t looking for it. And so that’s my mission now, just to spread this message that it is possible for anyone and you don’t need to have experience in it.
In 2019, I relaunched the second edition of The Travel Influencer Handbook and the 2020 edition is out. It really adapted with the times, like, as I progressed my business progressed. As I learned more things, I just put everything I knew into this handbook. And so now it’s not even like how to become a travel influencer, it’s really like how do you build a holistic, sustainable business that transcends pandemics or transcends pitfalls? If Instagram were to go bankrupt one day, like, what are you going to do? You really have to think about that as a business owner. So all of those new facts are in the newest edition of the handbook.
And so key takeaways from this chapter is get help when you need it. Don’t ever feel like you can’t do it. If you need other people telling you, you can look for those people. If you need guidance, get that guidance, but don’t ever give up and just look for help because you are totally capable of doing the same thing.
And the last takeaway is it’s okay to pivot and rebrand as you grow. I had four chapters going through this journey and it’s what it’s like four chapters in four years, maybe even less like you don’t have to have it all figured out in the beginning, but you have to believe in yourself and you have to keep going when times get difficult.
I believe in you. If you have any questions or comments, my DMs are always open. Find me on Instagram!