Photo Credit: Claire Soares, Founder and CEO of Up in the Air Life | Photo Credit: upintheairclaire.com
How This Black Woman Created A Million Dollar Luxury Travel Brand
Claire Soares spent 14 years as a Sales Executive at a product expert where she had an impressive resume. She made presentations to C-level executives and throughout the course of her career and was able to close deals valued at more than $3.2 billion.
Then, one day, she decided to bet on herself. She left Corporate America to create Up In The Air Life, a company focused on curating luxury experiences around the world geared toward African American travelers.
“I love traveling, and I knew other women and men of color loved to travel as well,” she stated. “I put my college knowledge and 9-5 training to work. I’m passionate about problem-solving, learning new things, and making what I know work in my favor.”
Her expertise is how she became successful with her luxury travel company where she has secured more than 3,000 clients who live it up on her glamorous excursions.
In 2018, the company surpassed the million-dollar mark in revenue for the first time, as reported in Black Enterprise.
“I built Up in the Air Life without even thinking it may become a million-dollar business,” Soares stated. “UITAL started as a hobby and generated over $20K+ in revenue in the first year of business. In a few years after conception, UITAL experienced exponential growth; and by our 5th year, we are on track to exceed $1M in revenue. Closing billion-dollar deals and starting million-dollar companies is in my DNA.”
Soares admitted, however, that there were some challenges along the way. The biggest hurdle was entering a space where there weren’t many people who looked like her and debunking the misconceptions of Black travelers.
“The biggest one is that black people aren’t interested or can’t afford luxury travel,” she told Black Enterprise. “The spending among black travelers is upwards $42 billion and to date, most luxury travel companies don’t even show black people in their marketing.”
“I knew if I could close prominent contracts for my 9 to 5, I could build my business beyond my wildest dream. So, I did,” she said. “I started my business pulling all-nighters. I would research, gather information, and prepare what was then my ‘side hustle’. After only a few years and nearly a million dollars later, my side hustle is my main squeeze.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Soares is now an author of where she talks about how she shattered the stereotypes designated to African American women through media, history, and our own communities in her book titled Breaking Away.