This Is What A Founder Looks Like – Tailored Retreats

Amisha Patel
Tailored Retreats
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
3 December 2021

Ever dreamed of starting a travel business? After going from job to job, Amisha Patel decided it was time for a new challenge. Inspired by her love of travel, she launched luxury travel agency Tailored Retreats after taking a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp. We caught up with her to find out more…

Amisha spent 10 years working in marketing. She worked for some of the top brands in the world – including Virgin – but, despite her success, she still wasn’t totally happy in her career.

“I didn’t like the permanency of being an employee,” Amisha explained. “I moved from role to role, never really understanding why. It wasn't until I got to the point where I decided that I wanted to do something for myself that it hit me why I kept moving jobs.”

She weighed up the idea of starting a business and although she had never dreamed of being her own boss, she decided she had to take the chance. “I ended up thinking about which was going to be the bigger regret: investing money into this idea if it doesn't work out, or never doing it and looking back and wondering what if?” she said. “And I just knew that I'd regret not giving it a go. You can always make more money, you can always get back on your feet but you can't go back in time. I think that's what really nailed it for me.”

Amisha was also driven by a desire to create something that was truly her own – something she could put her own stamp on. “Although I’ve done consultancy work before, it wasn’t the same,” she said. “Starting Tailored Retreats has been very different, it's all about building a brand. I've been doing my own accounting, learning the regulatory framework of the travel industry – there's so much more that goes into it than when I was just contracting.”

Tailored Retreats
Tailored Retreats

But when it came to what kind of business she was going to start, there was only one answer for Amisha: travel.

“I spent a couple of years in the marketing team at Virgin Limited Edition, where I really caught the travel bug,” she said. “That was my first taste of working in travel and experiencing some of the amazing parts of the world. I just fell in love with the industry.”

Travel is all about new experiences and seeing things you’ve never seen before. And creating amazing experiences for her clients has been one of Amisha’s favourite parts of running the business so far. “Nothing beats the feeling of making a booking or having a client that is so pleased with the itinerary that you've sent them that they don't even need time to think about it. They just want to go ahead and book straight away,” she said. 

Like any business, though, it’s not without its challenges. And it’s not always the big things that are the hardest. “It’s things that seem quite small, like coming up with a logo, or writing copy, but when you're doing that without a team it can be quite draining,” she said. “I miss having a team for input and checking things with – my poor husband has now become the closest thing I have to a colleague now. I'm constantly asking his opinion, what he thinks about what I'm doing. I think the loneliness of when you're a one-man-band in a business can be really tough.”

That’s why finding entrepreneur communities has been so important to Amisha. “I've joined co-working office spaces so I've got familiar faces and people that feel like colleagues around me. And I’m hoping that in the coming year I can grow that so that I'm not alone.”

The community aspect was also a deciding factor in choosing Virgin StartUp as the Start Up Loans provider that she went with. “Virgin StartUp offers a real community of founders,” she said. “And I'm really excited to get started with mentoring too. I can't wait to have someone to talk to about my business and hopefully they'll have some great wisdom to share with me.”

Got a great idea for a business but not sure where to start? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and funding.