Insider Interviews: Vanessa Rivers: Co-Founder, We Are Travel Girls

The entrepreneur & Co-Founder of acclaimed We Are Travel Girls, tells us how it all began, her favourite Destinos around the world & the beauty products she always packs

by Amy Wilson Wyles

The Experts

  • Hairdresser

    Annakay Simpson in London. She works independently and will come to your house! She is an incredible hairdresser and colorist.

  • Hair colorist

    Christina Katz at Oak+Violet Salon in Santa Barbara, CA. She has been doing my color for years and is amazing! But if you are looking for an excellent colorist in the Los Angeles area go see Andrea at Canale-Martinez Salon in the Pacific Palisades.

  • Exercise Class

    Exhale NYC – there are several locations and they offer fantastic barre classes.

  • Mani/Pedi Spot

    Chi’s Nails on Old Brompton RD – they do excellent shellac pedicures and add in a nice foot massage.

  • Pre-Holiday Pit-Stop

    Hershesons at Harvey Nichols. I go here to get my eyebrows and eye lashes tinted before beach holidays so I don’t have to wear makeup.

  • Favourite Spa

    The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, CA

The Rules

I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I started making and selling puff paint t-shirts in elementary school and used the money I made to buy a male and female guinea pig and sold baby guinea pigs to our local pet stores (weird I know!). In college I stared my own surf lesson company and then after graduation founded an eco lingerie line that eventually turned into an eco bikini line because I spent all my time in swimsuits and was a much better swimwear designer!

I am an avid surfer and grew up on a solar powered eco ranch. When I started my swimwear line SummerLove Swimwear (as seen in Sports Illustrated) there were no sexy, eco-friendly bikinis available. I wanted to make a line that was chic and show people going green could be sexy and cool. My bikinis are made out of beautifully soft and durable recycled fabric created from discarded fishing nets collected from the sea. Now sustainability is becoming not just a trend but mainstream and I am proud I was able to be part of that in a small way.

When I first started traveling as a broke surfer I would sleep in surf hostels and sometimes in my surfboard bag on the beach. It taught me that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great adventure! And it taught me to appreciate the little things like getting to see the sunrise and taking a warm shower. I started my travel site, in 2012 as a fun way to document adventures and inspire others to collect memories not things.

My business partner Becky van Dijk and I launched in June 2016 with the dream of creating a global travel community to inspire, connect, educate and empower female travelers around the world. We publish stories written by female travel writers from around the globe, feature inspirational women on our Ladies We Loves series,  promote organizations doing good around the world on our Charities We Love series, feature thousands of female travelers on our popular Instagram page @WeAreTravelGirls, hold monthly Meet Ups in different cities around the world, host Travel Girls Getaways affordable luxury and charity trips around the world, and last year we proudly launched Travel Girls Giving the charitable branch of We Are Travel Girls. Check out our recent feature on Forbes!

I am also a new mom to a mischievous toddler, which is full time job in itself!

To become a successful blogger double the amount of time you have set aside in your mind! For most people it takes years and years of hard work without any pay and little reward. Working for yourself is tough. You have to be very disciplined and committed. If you are giving it your all you will work longer hours than you ever would working for someone else. As with any business you have to be fiercely dedicated and unwilling to give up in order to become successful. In my family we say there is no such word as can’t.

I love deep tissue massages and try to book one at every luxury hotel I stay at, so at this point I have had more than my fair share of amazing massages! The standouts? My massages at Four Seasons Chiang Mai  and Nihi Sumba Island (just to name a couple!).

If I could only visit one place for the rest of my life it would be Santa Barbara! You can read The Best Hotels In Santa Barbara For Any Budget and Santa Barbara Bucketlist for suggestions for your next trip to this gorgeous California beach town that is my favorite place in the world! I went to college at UCSB and lived in SB for 10 years before moving to London, and the more I travel the more and more I appreciate how truly special it is. I would love to live there again someday but my husband is more of a big city guy, so after 7 years in London we’ve recently moved back to LA. It’s bittersweet as I know will really miss living in Europe.

The Kit

Cleanser: I am half Italian, have oily skin and am prone to clogged pores so I use Neutrogena Rapid Clear Cleanser as they keep me from getting breakouts.

Moisturiser:  Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Day Cream to protect against UV and hydrate my skin.

Hair Heroes: Kérastase Elixir Ultimate Serum – I have crazy, wavy hair so this helps knock out some of the frizz & Batiste Dry Shampoo – this stuff is incredible!

SPF: Neutrogena Sport face SPF 70+ – I love it because it does not clog my pores like many sunscreens.

Biggest Beauty Indulgence: Shiseido Benefiance Express Smoothing Eye Mask – these little under eye masks do wonders for wrinkles and puffy eyes. They are a life saver after a long flight or a night out drinking!

Best Budget Buy: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara