Meet Ileaa Swift from Swift Travel Deals
Ileaa Swift, 28, Little Rock, AR Swift Travel Deals
Ileaa Swift is a young entrepreneur who has created success in business through hard work and dedication. She offers motivational speaking to young adults and women in business and advice about creating success as a minority and young entrepreneur.
Swift is a wife, motivational speaker, businesswoman and entrepreneur. She opened Swift Travel Deals in February 2012, after spending seven years booking and researching travel for family and friends as a passion and a hobby. She studied the travel industry and researched several travel agency franchise options prior to starting her own travel agency in 2012. Since opening Swift Travel Deals in 2012, the company has reached over 200,000 clients and potential clients worldwide and has a staff of 105 including travel agents located in the United States, Egypt and Europe. She was recently awarded the Arkansas Business 20 in their 20's Most Influential in Business and Community Award by Arkansas Business, where only 20 people under the age of 30 were awarded in the state of Arkansas, and she has been featured on Fox 16 News “Good Day Arkansas” and in numerous magazines, online articles and newspapers. Swift is currently a Certified Travel Agent, certified from the Travel Institute. Swift uses her presence in the travel industry as a platform for philanthropy through volunteer efforts and community service through Swift Travel Deals. Her idea to establish Swift Travel Deals was to create an avenue to allow everyone to travel the world, regardless of their budget or need.
Swift Travel Deals recently launched the Travel with a Purpose Program that will allow travelers the opportunity to travel the world for leisure but also participate in volunteer efforts such as beach cleanups and volunteering at orphanages, hospitals, etc. in order to become socially and environmentally aware. Swift and her company also recently teamed up with the Keep Little Rock Beautiful Adopt-a-Street Program to help beautify the Little Rock community through volunteering to collect litter alongside Little Rock streets. She also started a campaign with the American Heart Association to help raise money and bring awareness to women's heart disease by fundraising for the Go Red For Women initiative. And she recently created her own line of all natural fragrance perfume named "Islandy" by Ileaa which will be launched in Summer 2014.
What was the first real job you had that you realized was the first step for your career? What did you do?
At the age of 17, I owned my own wedding and event planning business. After a few months in business, I realized that I did not like it because I was not passionate about it. However, because of the destination weddings that I planned I fell in love with travel and became eager to learn more about the travel industry, cultures and different locations around the world. My passion for travel lead me to taking the risk to create my own travel agency.
What were the advantages or disadvantages of being a woman in a corporate environment? Did you ever feel like you hit a glass ceiling or work with others who did?
The disadvantage of being a woman in a corporate environment (a young woman) was not having credibility and having to prove myself to everyone. No one took me seriously in the beginning because I was a young woman, but I worked hard, learned the facts and immersed myself in travel in order for people to see the value in myself and my company. The advantage was being able to partner and network with other women who had also dealt with similar issues being a woman in business. I now feel like I can inspire other women to chase their dreams and create their own happiness by establishing their own businesses.
Do you feel that women who own their own businesses are faced with the same women-related issues as those in the corporate environment? If so, how do you overcome it?
Absolutely. You overcome it by not accepting it. Don’t take no for an answer and take risks. Even when or if you fail, continue to try again. Know the facts, research and earn your credentials. Set out to be the best and be knowledgeable and confident in yourself and your business. Be an example for other women and younger women who may need a mentor. Reach for the stars and accept nothing less than success.
What advice do you have for those who want to start their own business?
Follow your passion. Create your own happiness by doing something that is true to you. Learn the facts and take time to research the industry that you would like to start your business in, and find a niche that will set you apart from other companies. Don't expect instant gratification. Know that all of the hard work will pay off in the end but the most important thing to do is to stay focused. Rid yourself of negativity and follow your dream even if it seems impossible to other people. Remember that your network is your net worth! Align yourself with valuable people who will be an asset to you and also help those people as well.
What would you like Feminist Wednesday readers to know about your business?
Swift Travel Deals offers payment plans on worldwide flight and hotel packages, destination wedding packages, flight and rental car packages and cruises which allows everyone to travel the world and stick to their preferred budget.
This option allows travelers to book their vacation in advance, without paying the full amount upfront, which will allow travelers the options to vacation as often as they like, stick to their preferred budgets and lock in the lowest rates available by booking in advance. There are no interest fees, no credit check and no set payments. Travelers have the option to pay as they like until final payment due date or opt to be placed on a monthly plan for budgeting purposes.