Henley Vazquez is CEO and co-founder of Passported, a startup aiming to make travel easier for young families. (Yes, please!) We spoke with the entrepreneur and mom about how to get away when you’ve got little ones, and how to start a business when you’ve just started your family. We talked to her for our #MotherlyMakers series, featuring the women remaking our world.
Motherly: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I’m a farm girl by birth, a city dweller by choice and a mom to two fantastic kids. I live in New York City and have spent over a decade working in travel and schlepping my (very patient) children around the world with me in an attempt to blend my family and my career. It’s working out so far!
Motherly: Was there a moment when you realized that you needed to start Passported? What clicked for you?
I was planning a trip to London with my daughter and found myself completely flummoxed, despite the fact that I had access to the best recommendations and loads of industry insiders. There was too much information, and none of it was targeted to me or to the increasing number of families I saw traveling in the same way as we were. I wanted to create on place where families could explore ideas, plan a trip and even book a hotel. I wanted to simplify family travel planning.
Motherly: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Work for the customers you have now, not the ones you think you’ll have in the future. Our investor told me this, and it’s something I’m constantly thinking about. What do the “right now” users of Passported want, right now? How can we serve them better? If we can solve the travel problems of the early adopters, they’ll spread the word and be our best marketing and strongest supporters. I’m so thankful to all the fantastic feedback and cheerleading we’ve had from them so far.
Motherly: How has motherhood transformed your career? What’s your secret to integrating work and family?
Motherhood changes everything. Often people focus on the negative—less flexibility on pulling late hours in the office, the inevitable juggling act—but I think having children has impacted my work life in positive ways. I’m far more efficient than I was before kids—when I’m at work, I focus, and my time management is so much better than pre-children. I’m also less of a baby. Having a nasty cold or not getting enough sleep is a non-issue; push through it, you’ll survive.
My secret to integrating work and family is putting guilt to the side and just doing the best I can at each. There’s no such thing as a perfect worker or a perfect mother. Don’t feel badly that sometimes one will need more attention than the other—it evens out if you keep plugging away at both. The more boring secret is putting in extra hours after the kids are in bed, pretty much every night.
Motherly: What keeps you inspired and excited every day?
New places, new faces. There’s nothing more exciting than landing somewhere I’ve never been and turning an unfamiliar destination into a well-scouted guide that other families can follow. It never gets old.
Motherly: What are your words of wisdom for other mothers wanting to turn their passion into a business?
Do it, but don’t be naïve. Starting a business is hard work, and your best bet is to have a solid business plan and a great co-founder. Turning your passion into a career is amazing, but remember that this is still a job, so it will require hard work and sacrifice. In the end, though, it’s all worth it!
Motherly: What are your big dreams for Passported?
I want Passported to be the destination that any family turns to when planning a trip. I hope our city guides will give parents the same confidence abroad that they have at home, knowing where to turn for a great meal or a fun activity or just a tantrum-stopping gelato break.
Motherly: Who is your #momcrush?
There are too many! I am lucky to be surrounded by mothers that hit a home run both professionally and personally, but the mom that truly blows me away is one that’s far from the public eye. She is a friend with three children, one of whom has survived cancer three times. She’s the strongest person I know and a true inspiration.
Motherly: What does “Motherly” mean to you?
Motherly means embracing motherhood with all its quirks, enjoying the up moments, surviving the down ones, understanding that the journey we all take as parents is one that’s better done as a community than as individuals.