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Podcast Feature: Dear Diaspora

Podcast Feature: Dear Diaspora

Dear Diaspora: Episode 25 - BlackTravelBox Founder Orion Brown on Building a Brand for Black Women Travelers and the Lessons She’s Learned Traveling the World

Audio and Photo Source: Dear Diaspora and Nduulwa Kowa

 

 

Episode Summary

Our Founder & CEO, Orion Brown, sat down with Nduulwa Kowa of Dear Diaspora to chat about the early days of The Black Travel Box and what being part of the African Diaspora means to her.

 Listen below to hear more about how The Black Travel Box came to be.

 

 

 

Episode Also Available on:

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Episode Transcript

Dear Diapora

Episode 25 - BlackTravelBox Founder Orion Brown on Building a Brand for Black Women Travelers and the Lessons She’s Learned Traveling the World

Nduulwa Kowa (00:04):

Welcome to Dear Diaspora, a podcast celebrating the African diaspora and the change makers, innovators and entrepreneurs working to make our world a better one to live in. I'm your host Nduulwa Kowa. Let's get started. So before I introduce the next guest, don't forget to leave a review, subscribe and rate on Apple podcasts. It makes a huge difference. And one key way that it does that is people are more likely to check out an episode or two if they see that there are ratings and if they see that people are actually listening to the content and enjoying the content. And one way to show that you enjoy the content is by leaving a review. So for everyone that's left a review, thank you so much, I really appreciate it. And if you are listening on any other podcasts listening platform, please make sure you follow the podcast.

Nduulwa Kowa (00:59):

So you're notified each Sunday when new episodes come out. And lastly, if you're listening on Spotify, you can actually share the podcast that you listen to on Instagram stories just like you would a song. So if you're listening to Dear Diaspora on Spotify, you can share that in your Instastories and I will repost. So of course tag Dear diaspora and I will repost and really appreciate you spreading the word about the podcast. Happy Sunday, Dear Diaspora fam. And thank you so much for tuning in to episode 25 of the show. I can't believe we're already at 25 episodes, so thank you so much for tuning in every week and sharing the episodes with your family and friends. So for today's episode I had the pleasure of interviewing Orion Brown. She is the Founder of Black Travel Box. Black Travel Box offers black women on the move a selection of products specially crafted to meet the needs of textured hair and melanated skin.

Nduulwa Kowa (02:02):

Orion started Black Travel Box to give women of color a brand that they could trust for their travel personal care needs. And so they have so many TSA friendly products to help us feel our best when we travel. And so if you ever have struggled with figuring out what to take with you when you travel, how you can kind of sneak it into your carry on or if you've ever had to check a bag just so you can take all of your lotions and your hair butters and your hair gels and things. Um, you definitely understand why Black Travel Box needs to exist. And so during the episode, Orion walks us through some of the early days of black travel box and how she really started to develop the idea for this product, her experiences traveling and how those just led her to really get started with it.

Nduulwa Kowa (02:57):

Because she wanted figure out a way she could travel, look good, feel good, and be able to really take care of her hair and her skin, with great products. And during the episode she also shares with us just your experience building a business, how she wants to really create value through Black Travel Box and what some of her dreams are for the company in the next few years. She also walks us through just how travel really has given her a greater sense of gratitude and connectedness. And I love what she had to say about what being a part of the African diaspora means to her. She answered it just so beautifully and I can't wait for y'all to listen to this episode. So without further ado, here is my conversation with Orion Brown.

Nduulwa Kowa (03:53):

Orion, thank you so much for being a guest on. Dear Diaspora. I'm so excited to have you.

Orion Brown (03:59):

Thank you for having me.

Nduulwa Kowa (04:01):

Yes, absolutely. Let's get started by just getting to know you a little bit more. So where are you from? Like where did you grow up?

Orion Brown (04:12):

So I am originally from, the South side of Chicago, Chi-town, and grew up mostly there but moved around a little bit, mostly through adolescents. But that is my home base and my hometown.

Nduulwa Kowa (04:26):

So have you traveled outside of the country? And what have some of your travel experiences been like?

Orion Brown (04:36):

Yeah, I am actually on my 17th country, which I'm super excited about because I was a little bit of a travel late bloomer. Travel has been a big, big part of my life over the last, I would say, 10 or 15 years. So I'm averaging at least one big trip a year and I'm trying to get that to like a 1.5 or two.

Nduulwa Kowa (05:02):

That's awesome. And what are some of the best places or what are some of your favorite places so far?

Orion Brown (05:13):

ah, good question. I would say my top places have been Croatia. Croatia was very cool, a little bit off the beaten path in terms of U.S. tourism. It's a place that, you know, folks from Europe have been going to for ages. But it has like sort of the best of kind of all worlds. Like you can, you can take a cruise there and pop into the different cities or you can take a road trip and it's very road trip friendly. There's history, there's beautiful beaches and lovely mountains and really good to sea food. So that's one of my top spots. I love Cape town, South Africa. That was both historically moving. The people are amazing. And once you've been on top of table mountain, it's like, "okay, well I've done that."

Orion Brown (06:14):

And then one last one would be Ireland. And I always use this as an example, just being a woman of color. Most places that I've traveled to, I come with sort of a U.S. mentality of being very aware of myself and, you know, the space that I'm in. And if I walk into a store, I'm like, you looking at me, I'm looking at you, looking at me, I'm looking at you. So Ireland was a place that I think I was about three days in and I remembered I was black, which sounds crazy, but, you know, in the U.S. you're just kind of reminded anytime you go out of if you have a fairly homogenous black neighborhood, you don't really think about it until you exit it.

Orion Brown (07:01):

And then you're around people who are other and you can see the difference in their countenance or how they interact with you or whatever it might be. I had a blast there and it wasn't until I saw like I'm going to assume they were African or Caribbean family walking by in Limerick of all places and I was like, "Oh, black people. Oh wait. I'm black! Oh, black people!" In that space of, okay, so where are the black people at? But like I felt so warmly received the entire time I was there that it was just, it was amazingly how it was amazing how comfortable it was to be in that country and that space and just to enjoy the experience as it was.

Nduulwa Kowa (07:44):

Oh wow. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. That's that's good to know. Like Ireland has never really been on my list, but um, it seems, it looks like a really beautiful country and um, maybe I should consider it now.

Orion Brown (08:00):

Absolutely gorgeous. I can't tell you how many photos I took while I was there. Like, every cow got his photo taken. Like, I was like, "Ooh, over here, look, yes, give it to me." So I absolutely enjoyed it. Um, and it's just the people are so much fun. You will drink. I mean, if you don't drink, you probably shouldn't go. But there's lots of Guinness and lots of fun people willing to share it with you.

Nduulwa Kowa (08:28):

Very cool. And so, um, when traveling, like I know with The Black Travel Box you really wanted to solve the problem, a lot of women of color face when they're traveling. And so prior to coming up with the idea, how did you like kind of deal with the fact that, "okay, I can't take all these natural products along with me?" Like how did you navigate that prior to coming up with BlackTravel Box?

Orion Brown (09:02):

Yeah, I, you know, prior to coming up with Black Travel Box, I really struggled with that balance of figuring out what I could take particularly for my hair care, but even my skincare as well. Like what can I fit in my bag? What wouldn't be, uh, you know, messy. And what would actually work for me. And it was a lot of trial and error. Um, you know, it was everything from taking like pouches. I mean I eventually I got to like pouches of conditioner that I would take Bobby pins to try to reseal them. It was taking the stuff, I mean, you start out taking the stuff that they tell you to take, right? Like you go in a target and you find that multicultural aisle, which thank God, it's finally, you know, a full eight foot set.

Orion Brown (09:48):

and on the very, very end, there's like three bottles and you better hope one of those bottles is the bottle that you like. And it's been everything from smuggling and full-size stuff and getting his snatch to TSA and almost catching a case to trying to buy stuff in country. Like, you know, I went to Kenya and in Nairobi it was one of those things that it was like, "Oh, can I find like a hair supply shop?" Well, not really, unless you go to a mall and you get to the mall, you realized it's for the tourists. So even there I remember being like, "Oh man, Africa though. Why?"

Nduulwa Kowa (10:34):

It's interesting that you bring that up because I'm from Zambia and when I go to like the mall back home, like even things like foundation and stuff, they don't carry like a lot of black shades. And I'm like, "what? That doesn't make any sense." Like this is a country full of black people. Right? Like why, like why am I seeing all these super, super, super like fair shades. So that's, that's an interesting thing that you brought up. Could you kind of walk us through the early days of you finally deciding to get started with Black Travel Box? Like what like who did you call or was it something that you were kind of working on, on your own?

Orion Brown (11:26):

I would say so. The early days being like two years ago, year and a half ago. It started out as a thought, literally, literally on a trip. I was in Japan and, and uh, started ranting about it. And, um, my partner at the time was, he was just like, why don't you just make it, isn't this what you did for a living in your previous life? And so I, I thought about it and I noodled it for maybe like, Oh, I'm going to say it was at least four months before I actually did anything. And then one day I was like, "okay, I've been noodling it, I haven't done anything. I'm going to sit down and I'm just going to apply for the LLC" because if I could apply for the LLC, I'm gonna feel guilty cause I put money on it and I'm going to have to like really work it out.

Orion Brown (12:15):

And that was, you know, August of 2017. And from there it was a pretty slow process cause I was doing it as a passion project. It was, uh, evenings and weekends and you know, August was great. September was back to school, October. It's like now I'm tired and then, you know, you've got holidays. So it was a lot of just kind of loan planning. And since my background is in brand, I really spent time structuring what I wanted the brand to look and feel like. You know, one of the things that I noticed was that you go to multicultural aisles and there aren't a lot of products that feel like they have a luxury aspect to them. They can be high quality products, you know, but, but the idea of having like a luxury feel to a brand for people of color, I just, I don't know a ton of them.

Orion Brown (13:13):

And so that was the thing that I really, you know, when I had my hours here and there, I would spend time working on like, if we're going to make an MVP for this brand, like this, you know, minimum viable, what we're going to come out to market with. So people start to, you know, take an interest. Um, I still want it to be elevated. So I spent a lot of time doing that and bringing on consultants and contractors to help me execute that cause I can't draw. But, um, but that was, it was really like a pretty solo endeavor those first six, eight, 10 months.

Nduulwa Kowa (13:48):

Okay. And so if you could go back to like that like idea stage where you were kind of just thinking through, um, what it would look like, like branding wise, like what would you have done differently? Like, or is there someone else that you think that you should have had on your team working with you?

Orion Brown (14:12):

I think that, you know, it's an interesting chicken or egg of like how to get things done, um, in the sense that, you know, in my mind, there's two schools of thought that I really wrestled with. And ultimately I probably just should've picked one lane and gone with that. The first school of thought is go out, raise money, like go out with your idea, raise a ton of money for it, and then start throwing cash at it, which is a really great way to get design done, right? Because you can pay tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring on an agency, let them do all the work and use all their creativity to create a fully fleshed out brand platform in terms of the visual aspect and even the brand voice, et cetera. How it, how it kind of presents itself in market.

Orion Brown (15:06):

The other school of thought is now be gritty. Build it from the ground up. Take every step yourself. Do all 52 of the jobs. You know, people say, if you don't, if you, what is it? If you, if you're time poor, then you pay someone and if you're money poor, then you do it yourself. And I think I kind of oscillated between those two, which really only helped me to be a bit distracted. Um, but really the first year of sort of trying to execute this in market. And so that's something that I would have picked a lane a little bit sooner that said, in oscillating, I've learned that, you know, finding funding is difficult and it's a full time job and it can be very distracting. Um, but it's also difficult to build something out of nothing. So, um, and the trade off is, is it takes longer. So, you know, I'm not sure which path I would have necessarily chosen, but I think picking one and really focusing on that and just like sticking to the outcome would have been a helpful thing to do.

Nduulwa Kowa (16:12):

Wow. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. So currently, what is like your Black Travel Box strategy? Like where are you trying to be? Who are you trying to partner with or develop relationships with? And how can I guess people maybe listening support you?

Orion Brown (16:39):

That's a great question. I am down for support. So the way that I think about The Black Travel Box is while we have started out in personal care because that is an acute need, um, within the travel space for women of color, like, like us, ultimately I want this to be a lifestyle brand. So I think of it sort of like, Oway meets Glossier where there's not only a product component, but there's a lifestyle component. There's a content component and there's an overall value add. Right? I don't necessarily love how some mainstream brands think of our community as an opportunity for top line growth as opposed to, um, you know, an intrinsic part of their longterm strategy and intrinsic part of, of what their brand and their business stands for. So that's something that I want to make sure that I stay away from.

Orion Brown (17:38):

And you know, anytime you're running a business, you're like, yeah, but let's get that growth. But it's like we're, we're not a monolithic people and there's a lot more to us than, than just the color of our skin or the kink of our hair. And so, um, I want to broaden that. And my personal mantra is that travel is a very effective form of self care. Um, and no matter where we are in the world or where we're from, we are a people that need self care. And so, um, that is sort of the platform longterm that I want to continue to build upon. So right now it is very much focused on travel. My partnerships are, are really structured around just driving awareness of the brand cause we're still fairly new, fairly small and we're not spending millions of dollars on advertising.

Orion Brown (18:30):

And so partner platforms like, you know, the folks that travel Nawara and Blavity are great. Um, working with, um, some of the big travel communities that are out there and even some of the smaller ones and starting to develop some partnerships. There is a big piece for us. But what I, you know, what I ultimately look for is finding and tapping into the community that is taking travel as an opportunity to expand themselves, to build, to grow, to find some centering and use it as a form of self care and experiential, experiential self care, in terms of how people can help and support, till five people buy gifts. Share. Share what it is that we're doing. If you know of folks that are avid travelers, within the diaspora, tell them to check us out, reach out to us, find us online, find us on our website, find us on social, um, because we want to really build a relationship with the, with the broader community.

Nduulwa Kowa (19:49):

Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I will make sure to get the word out as much as I can and obviously link to all your things in the episode show notes.

Orion Brown (20:03):

Thanks.

Nduulwa Kowa (20:05):

Currently if people want to buy The Black Travel Box, it's mainly online, right? Like that's where you would order?

Orion Brown (20:19):

Yeah, so our website is www.blacktravelbox.com. And we currently have our smaller set of products, which I'm really excited. We're going to be expanding this year. But we have a really great starter kit, so if you've never tried our products, you can sample sort of the smaller sizes of each one, find the thing you love and come back and you know, purchase it again and again. So we're, we're online and we will continue to partner with folks like shop essence, which we're still kind of waiting to get listed there and a few other places. And then we'll be looking probably back end of this year, early 2021 to get into more mainstream retail.

Nduulwa Kowa (21:04):

Very cool. Has there been a moment, um, as you've like been building your business that you've had to kind of pivot because of maybe something that you came across that was like super surprising or have you kind of maintain the same like vision or idea for your company?

Orion Brown (21:29):

It's funny you should ask that because I think, you know, I spent the early part of this year or last year, sorry, gosh, we're in 2020. Um, I spent the early part of 2019, probably spring to summer, really focused on fundraising. And that's where, you know, I talk about that, that duality of do you just go out and, you know, build it ground up or do you go get the funding for it first and then really do what you have in your mind as the vision. And I found it challenging and I think there was, you know, temptation to pivot based off of feedback. Um, most of which came from outside of diaspora in terms of, um, in potential investors, um, and party partners of, well, you know, that's really niche, a general feeling like maybe we don't travel enough to make a products company based off of the usage occasion.

Orion Brown (22:33):

and it's very interesting cause you know, I, I throw the data point out there that I think we spent $473 million on shampoo in 2017 and we don't even like shampoo like that. Uh, you know, there's, there's quite a bit to be said for our spend, particularly in the beauty space as women of color. And so for that there was a temptation to pivot. Um, and then there was a realization that the pivot wasn't in the idea. The pivot was in the strategy of trying to convince other people that it was a good idea. I was on Gimlet media as The Pitch (Podcast) over the summer and I think that actually aired in fall. And, you know, one of the things they said, I don't really know that this is a thing. And I got so many emails from all around the world and people hitting me up on LinkedIn being like, "it's so a thing and you have to keep doing it." So that was really the pivot for me. By the time I got to fall, I said, you know what, take a step back from trying to be a full time, tap dancer, and really focus on just building the business the way, you know, how and so I've really gotten a "if you build it, they will come" mentality. And that's been the big pivot for me.

Nduulwa Kowa (23:56):

Mm. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing that because I literally wrote down the word niche before you mentioned niche because even with obviously the podcast is, it's not an actual product. but I've had comments from, let's say non-black people who are like, "Oh, that's, that's a very niche topic." And I'm like, "yes." I'm like, "is it niche?" I mean, I'm talking to entrepreneurs and I'm talking to innovators and change makers. I don't think that's necessarily niche. The people I'm interviewing don't normally get the spotlight, but overall it's still an entrepreneurship podcast. And so I think that's super interesting that you brought that up. Cause I feel like anytime you do something that's specifically targeted to let's say reach, you know, black people, it's like, Oh, that's, that's niche. That's like, is that, you know, how big is the market?

Orion Brown (24:59):

Exactly. Exactly. And I think that, you know, the analogy that I use is if you've ever been in the, the Clairol aisle or you know, the, the hair color aisle, you will look and there's an entire, I mean, massive set of all these different hair colors and all these faces. And out of 63 faces that you might see, three of them will be black women, right? Unless you're in that weird little end piece, you know, that's just the, you know, right next to the, the no lye relaxer. And so what typically happens, and this isn't just people who are not black, but everyone who goes in that aisle looks across and sees all of these very Caucasian faces. And we go, okay, so these colors are for me. And then, you know, if you are not fair-skinned, you got to imagine what that color might look like on you.

Orion Brown (25:55):

But when you see those three boxes on the end you're like, "Oh, these are for black people." Like we all do it. We've all been, we've all been sort of, it's just for black people, right? So you're not going to find a white woman go into that aisle and go, "Oh, I should get these three on the end." She's going to look at all the rest of the colors, even if they're incremental to those colors. And so there is a product double standard. There's frankly consumer double standard that we have ingrained in ourselves that particularly black people, but certainly all people of color are small. And this idea of even using the word minority when it's about to be a majority, is an interesting concept that we don't do the math on exactly how many people a minority can.

Orion Brown (26:44):

and what does that look like in terms of markets and product development and how we present products to market? Um, you know, I always quiz people when they give me that niche. I always questioned people when they kind of push back and say, well, you know, this seems very niche travel and black travel seems very niche. And I kind of point to them when was the last time you saw an ad about travel, you know, ads to Jamaica? When was the last time you saw an ad about Jamaica going on a cruise or staying at sandals and you actually saw black people enjoying that space? There's a reason why you don't think we do this. There's a reason why. It's just because you haven't been exposed to it. But you know, with 63 billion, in travel spend, last year just by us, I think there's a market there.

Nduulwa Kowa (27:35):

Holy cow. 63 billion.

Orion Brown (27:39):

That is crazy cause we're small.

Nduulwa Kowa (27:45):

Wow and so as an entrepreneur who eventually you're probably gonna get back to where you want to like start fundraising. How do you like figure out where to go? Like, are you going to be targeting specifically funds that are meant for let's say, like women of color entrepreneurs? or are you going to kind of open yourself up to all sorts of let's say investment funds or whatever?

Orion Brown (28:17):

Yeah, I, you know, what I would say is it's a lot like dating online dating actually, right? Because there's all these different platforms and each platform has its own sort of culture. Um, but if you completely write off a platform, you might miss an opportunity, right? So people are like, "Ooh, Tinder, y'all are too straightforward or this is too much." But Tinder can be very valuable because in certain spaces you want to know what, you know, what you're being presented with. You don't want to jump through hoops and then find out later that, you know, Mr. Christian mingle and really that Christian. So you see, you know what I'm talking about. But so, so to me the way I look at it is, you know, if somebody said, well, you know, you don't want to do investment banks cause they just don't get it, get us.

Orion Brown (29:05):

Well, you know, what if Goldman, which is doing a lot of programs, particularly around women, women investment, minority investment, um, and partnerships, if, if they have a team and they have a group that's like, we see where beauty is going, we see where personal care is going, we see where travel is going, we believe in what you're doing and we get it at a gut level. Hell yeah, I'll work with them. Um, you know, and that's the same with private equity or VC or angels. And so it's less about stereotyping, you know, like it's less about what people often do to us when, when, you know, when they look at us and they kind of put you in a box, I'm looking to date and get to know different people and based off of where the company is at the point of which I will be looking for, you know, more structured investment.

Orion Brown (30:01):

It's who's the right person for the stage that we're at. It's no different than dating, who's the right partner for me, that I can see working with in the longterm that will support me in the ways that I need support, step back and let me do my thing where I need to do that and be sort of an anchor for stability and anchor for encouragement and an anchor for, for building up this vision and this dream. So I kind of take it that way and I think we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, but it is going to be about a partnership rather than sort of a, you know, I just need to find funds that only want this type of, you know entrepreneur because ultimately I'm, that's reverse shopping that's going on an app and saying, well, how do I sell myself to people as opposed to how do I get to know the right people and create the right relationship.

Nduulwa Kowa (30:56):

Wow. Thank you for that. That was beautifully put. I really appreciate that. So in the next, let's say 10 years, do you see yourself working on this for like, are you in this for the long haul or would you be open to someday maybe selling your business to like a bigger brand?

Orion Brown (31:22):

Yeah, I mean, I think that sometimes we take more of a local business mentality to, sort of our, our larger business endeavors and our startup endeavors, particularly within our community. And we see this with, you know, various companies particularly actually in the beauty space selling and, um, you know, the word out pops on the other end of that. When people find out that they've sold the company, um, I am most definitely in the game to win it and to sell a business. That's how you build legacy. That's how you build equity and liquidity. Um, you know, it's creating something of value and expanding that value to a point that something else or someone else who has the ability to pay you for it can, can pick that, pick up that torch and run with it. That being said, I think the concern typically that people have around, black businesses in particular selling to more mainstream companies is that the company, they feel like potentially the business will lose its focus.

Orion Brown (32:33):

and it's commitment to the community it was grown out of. And ultimately, I mean there are examples of this in market today. You will see CEOs and former founders staying on with companies and advisory role, staying on with companies as CEOs for a time to ensure that that transition doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Ultimately the world that I want to see with brands that are, um, focusing particularly on our community is not one of myopic focus. But if you bid equity, that's, that's how you grow a business. You have to find the new spaces and places that you continue to expand in. But I want this brand in this business to always positively impact and positively benefit our community. So if I sold, you know, postage stamps, if I made a company that made postage stamps, which would totally be illegal cause only the postal service can do it, but you get the idea, um, no one would say, well, every post saying if you sell has to be a black history to stamp.

Orion Brown (33:46):

Right? Like, you know, I can make love stamps, I can make Christmas stamps. And so that's how I kind of think about it in the long term. It's not necessarily a sellout. It is making sure that when I sell those Christmas stamps, when I sell those Valentine's stamps, that I'm still on the backend employing people who are underemployed, that I'm still investing my money in other businesses both professionally in terms of vendor and partners and supplier diversity as well as, you know, where we, where even I personally put my stake, my cash that I spend on a daily basis, where does that money go? And so to me, that's sort of the, the ultimate goal. And you know, if you sell your business for your, you take home several million dollars or tens of millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars, that'll you have to go somewhere. Right? And that's where you, how's it in the community either in, you know, our banks, you invest in other endeavors, you know, you all want me to be rich now y'all want me to have the kind of money that I can then go back and invest in other founders that are coming up. So that is a very long way of saying yes, I would love for this company to be purchased at some point when it is ready.

Nduulwa Kowa (35:09):

One last question for you. As you've like traveled especially to like the continent, what kind of lessons did you learn, or have you learned along the way and what would you say being a part of the African diaspora means to you?

Orion Brown (35:30):

Ooh. Oh, you got an hour? Cause... so in terms of lessons, I have, and I tell people this a lot and I probably sound hokey saying it, but I feel like I've found a different level of spirituality and a different different level of connectedness with God as I've traveled around the world. Um, and it's that sort of Eat, Pray, Love feeling, but you can, you can really get that any place you go so long as you take in the beauty of what it is. And it doesn't have to be an amazing ocean view, although that is usually the Kickstarter, right? You see the ocean for the first time and you're like, Oh, it's so beautiful. And, and it kind of goes from there. But, in every country I've taken a moment to take in the natural aspects of the blessing of the world that we live in, even though it was rough and there's a whole bunch of stuff going on and a lot of places, it's an amazing space that we've been given to grow our lives and ourselves to nurture each other.

Orion Brown (36:46):

To learn, to gain wisdom, to give back. And so I always get this measure of gratitude and connectedness just from that aspect. Similarly I think with people it is, and I have to say it's such a relief sometimes to get out of the political atmosphere that is ours. And not to say that there, I mean there are amazingly awful political atmospheres all around the world. So it's not a woe is me kind of thing, but it's getting perspective outside of the space that you're, you have been acclimated to, you know, civically and, and just seeing the core humanity of people and humanity isn't a lot of people say, "Oh well the core humanity of people, everyone's inherently good." That's not necessarily true. But I think there is something very grounding when you can go to multiple places and find good people, um, and experience good people on the most basic levels, whether it's having a meal with them, whether it's someone that doesn't even know your language and you don't know theirs and you manage to like make a joke and share a laugh between each other.

Orion Brown (38:02):

That universal sort of humanity that you can pick up going to so many places, I think puts into perspective the crap that you have to deal with daily. And it also puts in perspective the good you deal with daily and that you come upon. So those are two really big things that I get out of travel. Oh, what was the second part of your question? I think it was what does being a part of the African diaspora mean to you? Yes. You know what, being a part of the African diaspora means to me landing in Munich airport, going to order scrambled eggs, standing in front of a woman that looks like she's working at McDonald's in the U S she's got like the teeny little ponytail at like the very top of her head that you know, that use like a bit of ProLine to get all the hair up to the rhinestone earrings, tapping on her temple cause it's itchy and she opens her mouth and does not speak a lick of English.

Orion Brown (39:08):

And I love her instantly. That's what it means to me. I think there is, there is a connected understanding of our experience that has come out of pain and subjugation on pretty much every continent you can think of. But it's also come out of the beauty of our core culture, the strength of our spirit, the creativity that we have. I always go back to the strength of a black woman, and our determination and the way in which we present ourselves to the world, no matter where we're from or where we've been through what we've been through. And so it's being a part of the diaspora is being a part of a club and the club always fun and not every chapter does the same thing. However you see each other and when you have that little bit eye contact moment or you do the nod and you're like, "yeah, I see you," there's nothing like it. There really isn't. We bring flavor to every place that we inhabit in this earth. And that's something actually I want to explore quite a bit with black travel box. I have some, some longer term or maybe medium term plans for how we can begin to create stories around that savory goodness that we bring to the world in all the places that we inhabit. So, so to me that's, that's what being a part of the diaspora is.

Nduulwa Kowa (40:37):

Wow. That was, that was so beautifully said. I really appreciate that. Super thoughtful answer and I love what you said about us being a part of a club cause no matter where you go, I feel like whenever you do see someone that looks like you get that like sense of home, that sense of like, I'm not here alone. And you know, like I still have, um, this community of people I can lean on even though I, you know, I might not necessarily know them, but, um, yeah. Thank you for that. That was really beautiful. Awesome. And how can people connect with you, um, on like social media? And I know you mentioned your website earlier.

Orion Brown (41:26):

Yes. So if you'd like to connect with the company, you can find us@theblacktravelboxorblacktravelbox.com, both of those work. And if you want to find us on social, we are primarily on IG. So on Instagram @blacktravelbox. We also dabble a little bit in Twitter, but you'll find me personally on there a little bit more. And my Twitter handle is @orionmorion_helena. And that is my handle on both Twitter and on IG.

Nduulwa Kowa (42:03):

Awesome. Thank you so much. I will make sure to include all your handles in the show notes. Orion, thank you so much for being on the show. This was such such a great conversation.

Orion Brown (42:20):

Definitely. Thank you so much for having me. Llike I said before we kind of got started. I really love seeing our voices find their space, particularly in the podcast space and I'm always happy to support our voices talking to us and through us and bringing value. So I really love what you're doing. I'm excited to see where you go with it.

Nduulwa Kowa (42:44):

I appreciate that. Be sure to check out The Black Travel Box at theblacktravelbox.com. Follow them on Instagram and all the socials at the black travel box and share this with a friend. If you love to travel or if you know someone who loves to travel and you think that they would enjoy The Black Travel Box's products, be sure to share this episode with them and have them go buy all the things at theblacktravelbox.com. Thanks for listening to Dear Diaspora. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate and review us on iTunes. You can find us on Instagram at Dear Diaspora or visit our website deardiasporashow.com. Thank you and talk to you next week.



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