ENTERPRISING JOURNEYS

The 'non'-accidental Tourist

Leah Greengarten

Our Travel Curator

The Business
Our Travel Curator
The Founder
Leah Greengarten, 2020
The Concept
A luxury travel consultancy specialising in retreats for entrepreneurs, business owners and seekers of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
What’s Next
My business is constantly pivoting and I’m making a real effort to go global. And I’d really like to have girly business because women are good workers and mums are efficient.
If I Had One Wish It Would Be
Better supporting female founders on maternity leave, because everything pauses. It was a humbling time for me.

An Unusual Beginning

Leah Greengarten is the first to admit her business began by accident. Today her luxury travel and bespoke experiences business Our Travel Curator is enjoying great success, but three years ago it began with a random Facebook post.

For many years Greengarten worked as a travel writer, most recently from Alice Springs where she was living in a caravan freelancing for Escape, producing content for Qantas Entertainment in 2018, and supplementing her income by waking before dawn and cooking for tour groups. Before that Greengarten had completed an internship with the Sunday Times travel magazine in London and a cadetship with the International Herald Tribune which paid just enough for her to base herself in Paris before she returned home to Sydney to brush up her corporate skills and save for a mortgage working for Tourism New Zealand for four years. She was back living in Sydney when Covid hit. The work disappeared overnight.

“I need to find a room”…the business begins

Emerging from the first lockdown back home in Sydney she was desperate to travel but struggled to make bookings as the travel industry had been decimated.

“I wondered if other people were experiencing the same thing so I put on Facebook, ‘Is anyone else struggling to find accommodation? I’ve worked in the travel industry, do people want help?’,” she says.“They wrote to me, tagged me, I didn’t realise how many people trusted me and how many people I knew.”

Greengarten began charging $50/hour and soon found herself with a small business opportunity.

Reality Travel - The Start-up Pivot

During the next lockdown she pivoted and began offering ‘virtual reality travel’ to Italy – Zoom cooking classes with an Italian nonna for which ‘travelers’ received a gourmet pack of ingredients. “I made $15,000, in lockdown! Because I had so much experience I was able to be entrepreneurial.”

The Birth Of An Enterprise

When an old school friend heard about Greengarten’s virtual reality tour of Italy, he asked her to curate a luxury day retreat in NSW’s lush Glenworth Valley for him and his group of five fellow entrepreneurs from the global Entrepreneurs Organisation, in August 2020. Our Travel Curator, a bespoke luxury travel and experiences business, was born.

“That’s how my business blossomed because they all spoke to each other and now it’s [expanded] to a further community of business owners who are really successful.”

Finding Success

Greengarten describes the business as ‘a luxury travel consultancy that specialises in retreats for entrepreneurs, business owners and seekers of once-in-a-lifetime experiences’ catering for high-end clients such as Entrepreneurs Organisation and Young Presidents Organisation.

Recent retreats included five days in Paris experiencing croissant making courses and workshops with successful French entrepreneurs; to an overnight luxury ‘Italian’ road trip for Maserati owners through the Victorian countryside with lunch at an olive grove, an Italian cooking course and cellar door experience.

Today the median price of a retreat is $40-50,000 [per retreat] and Greengarten is working with a handful of clients at any given time. But it hasn’t always been easy.

“I don’t come from a family that is entrepreneurial,” she says, noting she knew nothing about business.

Advice For Founders

Become financially literate even if that means employing a bookkeeper and accountant, explore becoming a company and make sure you’re insured.

Accept free mentoring and workshop opportunities - Greengarten says programs like Tech Ready Women and Realise Business empowered her to start her business.

Make the most of your networks, you never know who is reading your posts and you'd be surprised how much you personal brand is worth. "A friend recently said to me, 'Your network is your net worth' and it's incredibly true. My business has been a success because of my upbringing, schooling and trusted friendships."

While having a baby proved a challenging time financially as her income dried up and the minimum wage didn’t reach far, forcing her to rely on her husband’s income, she says building her own business has been worth it.

“IT’S THE FREEDOM OF WORKING FROM HOME WITH A NANNY, THE FREEDOM OF GOING TO LUNCH WITH A GIRLFRIEND, OF HAVING AN INCOME THAT’S PROBABLY BETTER THAN I’D GET WORKING 9-5. THERE’S A LOT MORE FLEXIBILITY WITH WORK TODAY.”

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