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Aired: January 26th, 2022
Audio and Photo Source: Vondell Burns and Instagram
The Thankless Production Founder, Vondell Burns joined us for this week's Wine Down Wednesday! Vondell shared with us how she got into the production biz and how her business supports her expat lifestyle. Vondell is always on the go, with 20 stamps in her passport, but there is no place she is going without her spirit guide, Veil, and at least 4 pairs of shoes! Tune into hear about the places her and her furry friend have explored, her first international experience and her life living in Mexico.
Instagram wouldn't let us be great during the interview and it's still giving us a hard time now. Check back later to view the live. In the meantime you can read through the interview below.
Wine Down Wednesday: Vondell Burns
Orion Brown (00:02):
Ooh, let's turn this light down. Hey, y'all Instagram kicked me out twice. It is out here tripping. Hi everyone. Hello? Hello. It's Wednesday. Yay. And I don't have the coodies this week. Y'all look at me on the come up. Yes. Yes. Just justvondellable. Let me get you in here, girl. Let me get you in here. Aye
Orion Brown (00:39):
Love it. Hey, y'all it is Wine Down Wednesday. It is. I hope you have your beverage. I have, now I know this looks like Koolaid, but it's, it's a little stronger than, than wine this week. I'm actually trying something new. It's a whey based spirit. So it's like vodka, but instead of being made with potatoes, it's made with whey and it's supposed to be very good for the planet and it's a woman-owned business. So holler. Cheers. Hey, for those of you who don't know me, I just, okay. Wait, Hey miss. I swear Vondell. I'm trying to let you in. It won't let me do it. Um, but for those of you who don't know me, my name's are Orion Brown. I am the founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox. You should see our name at the top right next to Wine Down Wednesday. And this is Wine Down Wednesday.
Orion Brown (01:32):
We're oh, we're gonna try to get our guest in. Instagram has been playing all the nasty little games this week. Um <affirmative> and actually last week it was being a little funky. I hope it hasn't been funky for you guys. Yes. Cheers. Morocco daily tours. Y'all I can't wait to go to Morocco. Hi, you made it.
Vondell Burns (01:53):
Orion Brown (01:55):
Vondell Burns (01:56):
How's it going? Instagram? Not letting us be great today.
Orion Brown (01:59):
It's trying, but you don't be gonna be great anyway.
Vondell Burns (02:02):
We are. We are <laugh>.
Orion Brown (02:06):
I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for joining.
Vondell Burns (02:09):
Of course, thanks for having me.
Orion Brown (02:10):
I'm so excited. I was just introducing myself to everybody cuz uh, we got our weeklys. I see our regulars. I see y'all out here, but for those of y'all don't know me, my name's Orion Brown, I the founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox we're personal care products company for travelers of color.
Orion Brown (02:25):
What does it have to do with wine? Nothing, but I created Wine Down Wednesday so we could have an excuse to kick it and chat every week. And talk about my favorite subject, which is travel. So I'm really excited. This is bought y'all throw your hands up for Vondell she's she's a first time joining us. Yeah. Yes I, so we have a, um, uh, a way in which we do our intros. So I want you to, um, tell us where you are, where you're from, if those are different places. Okay. Um, and how many stamps you have on your passport?
Vondell Burns (03:10):
Ooh, I love this
Orion Brown (03:12):
Vondell Burns (03:15):
All right. Hey everyone. I am based currently in Tulsa, Oklahoma been born and raised in Bellville, Illinois. It's a small town outside of St. Louis right across the river. Um, and I have 20 stamps in this here, passport with my nice little cover.
Orion Brown (03:33):
Oh, like, wait, hold up. Show us, show us the show us the
Vondell Burns (03:37):
Is so cute. My vibe, every color, if you know anything about me, my little travel size suitcase has about four pairs of shoes in it, regardless of where I'm going. So, um, I thought it was fitting <laugh>
Orion Brown (03:51):
Now. Uh, wait, hold on. We need to talk about this four pairs of shoes. So minimum, what is your go to like mix of shoes? Like, is it the same four pair that you travel with or it, or is it like you base it off of where you're going?
Vondell Burns (04:05):
It's based off where I'm going in the climate. Of course. Um, this just recently I was in London over the holiday and so I had to have two options for boots, my sneakers, um, and the knee high, you know, that's like, that's the extra flare, if you wanna give 'em a little something, but um, the other options end up being like, you know, no heel versus heel comfort versus are you touring and walking around, you gotta have your options. So I like to have those options if anything.
Orion Brown (04:41):
So we have a travelista fashionista here, and I'm not mad at it. I'm not mad at it at all. Um, what were you doing in London over the holidays or what brought you there?
Vondell Burns (04:52):
I actually have a couple of friends that are based in Europe now. Um, so my, my friend, she lives in Amsterdam. This is the nice little story. So she lives in Amsterdam. It was her birthday and our mutual friend lives in London. And so I collaborated with my mutual friend in London to surprise my friend in Amsterdam. And so I went out to London for a few days, like was off social media. Couldn't post about being there and then traveled up to Amsterdam where I was able to surprise my friend for her birthday. She, she relocated there with her job and I hadn't seen her in a while and never visited, visited her in Amsterdam. So it was nice to get out there and, and see her again. Um-
Orion Brown (05:38):
Did she have a whole heart attack when she saw, like my friend came all the way over the pond?
Vondell Burns (05:44):
She passed out! Yeah, no, it was, it was great. We captured the whole thing. I made a huge story about it. I have to, I have to put a highlight up after this, um, replaying that experience. It was a lot of fun. Um, but yeah, I, I, I studied abroad in France and I kept my friendships from, from then and I was able to go back to, to France and visit a friend who just had a baby too. So I, I did a couple things all out there. Um, but it was, it was nice to, to get over there for a few weeks.
Orion Brown (06:16):
Oh, that's awesome. And so do you normally, like, so you got 20 stamps on the passport. Is this like a normal thing? Well, obviously COVID is a little bit weird, but is it a normal thing to just like, I'm gonna go to Europe or I'm gonna go to Asia, let me hit up as many folks as I know and, and bounce around.
Vondell Burns (06:36):
It's a little bit of that. Now. I have built a global network to, to where I think I could, if I'm popping down somewhere, I likely know someone potentially. Okay. I'm also not afraid of just popping up somewhere and making friends along the way. I know I did that most recently when into Mexico, I lived there for a few months, um, during the pandemic actually. Um, and I found community there pretty quickly Black people
Orion Brown (07:08):
As well. I, so <laugh>, I, Mexico is brown and I mean, and let me, let me take a step back. Mexico has always had Brown people, Black and Brown people. They have indigenous folks. They have Black folks, but us American Black folks have been Browning up Mexico all through the pandemic. And I'm hearing about these communities cropping up and it's not just, you know, the Tulum parties, it's the stuff in Mexico City and Oaxaca like that is so dope. Like what prompted you to go? Did you hear about somebody else going or was it just something that you were like, let me see where I can get to without getting kicked out. <laugh>
Vondell Burns (07:50):
It's a little bit of both. Um, no, I, before the pandemic, I actually, I had made the decision <affirmative> pre pandemic that 2020 was gonna be the year that I traveled the world <laugh>. And so, um, you know, I couldn't have predicted a pandemic happening, but I did partner with an organization called Remote Year, um, to plan out what would be four months of traveling in south America. And then when the pandemic happened, those plans, at least with that company fell through. Um, but my plans did not <laugh>
Orion Brown (08:28):
So, but my heart was still in it y'all.
Vondell Burns (08:30):
Yeah, my heart was set, like, we all figure out a way to do it. There's ways to do it safely. Um, and so I started researching which countries were still open. Um, cause if I was gonna sit in my apartment here, I could sit in my apartment. There is what my thought process was. <laugh>
Orion Brown (08:50):
That, that is a whole word for y'all listening. You're like, I can't believe people were traveling and, and, and don't get me wrong. I understand the, the, um, hesitancy mm-hmm <affirmative>, but in the middle of the pandemic, when it was like nobody on the flights and nobody at the airports and nobody on the bus, it was so easy. Just go be wrapped up, you know, your mask, your hand, all that stuff, and get to a place and then just go hold up. And it's like, what do you see outside your window? If you, if you're not happy with the view, like go somewhere and sit there. Uh, I love that.
Vondell Burns (09:33):
I love that. Yeah. I mean, we were, were in a time too, where it was like in the states, it was still okay. As long as you're outside or like yeah. You know, people were being a little interesting with what they were considering. Okay. Or, or not. And so <laugh>, I,
Orion Brown (09:52):
They came through with the, just the tip just for just a second with COVID <laugh>
Vondell Burns (09:57):
I was like no longer <laugh> people decide when they're going adhere and not to certain rules and things like that. And what I could respect was, you know, all right, we're not gonna be in crowded places. We're not gonna, if we're gonna socialize, we're gonna do it outside. Things like that made sense to me. So what I needed to find was a place that was going be, be warm and allowed me to still interact with people in a safe way in Mexico. Um, when I went there was in the red zone, they were locked down. So they had pretty strict guidelines. Like you had to wear a mask, you had to do all these things. And that's not something that I would say is consisted even in the states. So I felt a lot safer there. I asleep when it came to COVID things and because it's a warmer climate, you know, doing things outside just came easy.
Vondell Burns (10:44):
Um, so I had-
Orion Brown (10:45):
Cause you, you wanna be outside just in the breeze. Wow.
Vondell Burns (10:50):
Exactly, exactly. Um, and I stayed, I saw a question in the chat about how I built community out there. I think my go-to was stay at like a hostile, which there's a lot of community living, um, options in Mexico City. And I'd recommend, uh, the Selenas particularly. Selena is a, a hostile chain that are, that they're many major cities. Um, and the deal that they have is you can opt into like a month subscription to the Selena hostels and you can move to wherever they are, as long as you're subscribed. So they have multiple locations in Mexico. If I wanted to go to Tulum, I could stay in a Selena. If I wanted to go to Mexico city or haka, I could stay in a Sina. And through that, you developed this network of expats who are also kind of doing the same thing. Mm. I love that. And I love the idea of knowing exactly what you're getting into. If you are hopping from city to city in terms of where you're staying. Right. Because if you're, if you're with a chain... Aw nugget!
Vondell Burns (11:59):
Gonna bother me. I'm sorry. She's been, I've been, I don't know if you've been seeing me pulling and doing all this, she's been doing the most.
Orion Brown (12:07):
She said, I need to be in the limelight and I'm not mad at it. I'm not mad at it.
Vondell Burns (12:09):
She's gonna continue to bother me unless she's right here. Sorry.
Orion Brown (12:14):
<laugh> that's OK. But I love that, cuz it's like, because you're at a chain, you at least have a baseline expectation of what you're gonna get in that, in that location and like what the arrangements are and things like that. How would you describe the hostile experience? Mm-hmm
Vondell Burns (12:33):
That was cool. Um, I stayed in the hostel, but I still had my own room too though. I still, you know, did my own, like you have the option of being in like the community room or like getting a suite or an apartment or whatever. Um, so I had my own space, but I could go to the kitchen and like ask somebody where they're from or like what they're working on. Celinas also have, um, co-working spaces. So I was working while I was abroad. I was building out my business. I had contracts that I was doing mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and because Mexico city is central time, I was plugged in. Right. Like it didn't really affect anything that I was in a different country. Wake of that the same time. It was just, it was great for that reason. And even when I went to Cancun or Tulum, that was east coast time. Right. So I always was in a time zone that was conducive to, to working still. Um, but I think generally people were co-working or people that were in the kitchen were all looking for community. So it was easy to start conversations with people, plan events, plan outings, if you didn't wanna do something by yourself. Um, and so that's what I did.
Orion Brown (13:48):
I love that. And, and I had no idea that hostels had apartments. Cuz you mentioned you can get a room, but you can also get an apartment. I'm like, what you talking about Willis I'm I'm intrigued now. That's awesome. And what was it like? I mean obviously time zone, um, is, is so key and being in like the, you know, still being in north America makes it really, really easy to, but what was, is it like kind of wrestling with what you need to do versus what you want to do? Like be, was there temptation to be like out all the time? Um, how did you kind of keep yourself on, on schedule, working on contracts, doing all that stuff?
Vondell Burns (14:32):
Um, I mean, no real temptation only because, because, um, in choosing a ele you're choosing an environment of other entrepreneurs and, and workers mm-hmm <affirmative> so like it's like everybody during the day goes to work still, you know? Um, and so, so it wasn't until like dinner time or the weekends that we really had that temptation, which wasn't a temptation we can indulge at that point. Um, also I think just in switching over to remote life, like one of the things that I really feel is important and I won't look back on is work life balance, right? Like mm-hmm, <affirmative> at the end of the day, I'm getting up for my desk to eat lunch. I'm taking my dog out for her 30 minute walk. Um, those types of things are nonnegotiable at this point. So I feel like with the remote lifestyle, I've been afforded more flex flexibility and like, I don't feel this tug of, of like, you know, compromise on any work that's being done. It all gets done still, but just on my terms,
Orion Brown (15:40):
Ooh, I like that on my terms. And so tell us what you do that gives you this flexible lifestyle. Like what you up to girl, how, what you, what you entrepreneuring
Vondell Burns (15:52):
So at the time that I was in Mexico, I was full time entrepreneur Thankless Production, um, is my business. It's a creative consultancy, um, and film production company. And during the height of the pandemic, I shifted more so to video production services. That was when everything was virtual. Right. So there was a boom in a need for a producer that could really man, that process. Yeah. Um, so I worked, um, on projects like the Creative Curriculum with the CC NYC um, and Culture Con um, the virtual versions of those, um, I was featured at Afro tech world, um, and did a, a lot of pre-production for short films and music, video concepts. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so I think it's a long-winded way of saying like the film industry and video services industry didn't really, I think the film film industry had pivot a bit just because that's where you're on set more, but yeah, they wrap their head around COVID protocol pretty quickly. Um, and so pre-production work and post-production work is still very much so possible over the internet mm-hmm <affirmative> and that's where I found myself being more involved, um, once the, to make hit.
Orion Brown (17:15):
And that's brilliant because entertainment shot through the roof. Yeah. Like in, not in the sense of, you know, sin, cinema, cinema as a, as an industry had a really hard time, but Hey, um, but that's such a perfect creative space to be in because a lot of that stuff is, is electronically done anyway. Right? Like a lot of our favorite films and documentaries and stuff shot in different places cut in different places coordinated. So that's awesome. How did you get into the film production industry? Like what, what drew you?
Vondell Burns (17:49):
Um, so two things I would say, so I graduated from Howard I'm repping right now. You can't really see Howard, uh, a lot of my friends at Howard, are creatives, musician filmmakers, and I was the, the girl in the school of B who just seemed to know how to get things done. So I was looped into projects a lot in college, uh, just on like the project management perspective. And what I really didn't realize was that was being a producer, right? Like manage all the moving pieces, making connections, all that stuff. You're a producer fast forward to like, uh, working full time. I was, um, working at an investment bank on a strategy and brand team, um, focused on how to market the company as an ideal place to work. And a lot of the content that I created, <laugh> a lot of the content that I created was video.
Vondell Burns (18:49):
And I didn't realize, you know, while my title was associate on the strategy and brand team, what I really should have been putting was creative director writer, producer, editor, you know, like the things that I actually doing was very much so video production. Um, and so I developed that skillset, using large budgets, managing big projects and it was all commercial. And I'm like, wow, this is incredible. Um, not realizing that this is like a full industry that I could get paid to do, like, just that. Right. Oh, so I had this like sense of imposter syndrome when navigating creative spaces because I was in a bank doing it versus like at NBC or somewhere, um, that's known for that type of work. Um, but that's where my craft was honed right over four or five years. That's where I, that's what I was doing every day.
Vondell Burns (19:47):
And on the side I was working with friends to, to, to do like music videos and short films. Um, not realizing that I could be getting paid to do this work, but just like, Hey, y'all trying to do something cool. Like let's do that. Um, and so I have a lot of projects under my belt already, a portfolio that was built, but wasn't walking around calling myself a producer and that's how Thankless Production came about because it really is a thankless job. Like-
Orion Brown (20:15):
I was like, y'all caught the name, right. Thankless Productions.
Vondell Burns (20:18):
Yeah. Yeah. That's really what it is. It's like, wow, you never really stop to pause how much work goes, goes into it behind the scenes. And there are a lot of thankless pros behind the scenes, doing a lot of the heavy lifting and a lot of the work. And I started thankless pro as a way to, um, form community around those professionals that often aren't getting that recognition or the spotlight or the resources or anything, um, like that. And then separate from that, wanted to figure out a way to monetize my skillset, um, and teach people how to do the same. So I released, I released the beta version of my Pay to Produce course, um, which focuses on teaching creative entrepreneurs, how to launch their creative projects from start to finish. Mm. Um, and giving them really the ability to overcome that imposter syndrome associated with being paid to actually produce their craft mm-hmm <affirmative> um,
Orion Brown (21:21):
Cause we used to working for free. That's what it, I don't, I personally don't believe imposter syndrome can exist in a Black body, in the, in the truest sense of it just because the world is, it's an external thing. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, other folks who, who have imposter syndrome, they are truly like, I don't know if I'm good enough. We are being told. We could be eight times better than the person next to us and we're being told that we're not good enough. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so, you know, I hear you on, I hear you on the imposter syndrome, but I really struggle with that concept for us just because of the cultural context that we live in versus, and especially being a Black female. Oh my God. Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah, true. Y'all see that acknowledgement right in her eyes. Yeah. No. Um, so that's my rant, but I love that. I love that. Not only. So right now I feel like we're in a bubble of expertise. Right. Everybody's expert, nobody wanna be a professional, but I love that you're a professional first. Like you're like, no, do this and I know how to do this. And I actually can teach you how to do it as well. Um, oftentimes that's, that's the thing, like we don't even get told like, oh, you know, you get paid for that. I love that. You're doing that.
Vondell Burns (22:41):
Yeah. And I think through my Instagram, so the content had been paused for a little while, but with my new hire, um, we're gonna be rolling out for more content, free resources. Um, it's a milestone that I have for my, my business. I think there's been a lot circulating on the contract side and like just one-on-one consultations and things like that. But I really wanna get back to the community aspect and pulling people in the Thankless Pro community up as I'm learning all of these things and experiencing these things. So a lot of that content is gonna be coming out through Thankless Pro, which is the business account that I run.
Orion Brown (23:22):
That's awesome. So y'all follow @thanklesspro, especially if you're trying to learn how to produce stuff. What I wanna know is given the, the lifestyle freedom that you have by having essentially a remote work company. Mm-hmm <affirmative> have you been able to merge sort of your love of travel and your interest in these places that you're going to with your production work?
Vondell Burns (23:47):
Oh yeah. I mean, a lot of the content that I'm sitting on is based in these locations rooted in like cultural experiences. I shared one with you that, um, I just made that one on the fly just to, to cap sure. The essence of, you know, going out, meeting new friends and, and getting a group together to actually do something together. But when it comes to kind of communicating how to do this while traveling, I'm hoping that because I'm like explaining it on location, people are kind of getting the essence of like, it's really not that different from what you're doing from your home. It really starts with a decision which is to travel <laugh> in doing that. You said, just do it. Y'all your computer. And like getting your things together. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like I travel with my dog. Like people think all these hurdles obstacles getting in your way. Like I literally took my dog to Chichén Itzá, like
Orion Brown (24:47):
You can't. Okay. So here's <laugh> for those of y'all that don't know Chiche is not like a, a local restaurant. This is a massive, um, uh, formation in the earth. I feel like I don't, I would feel, I feel like I would lose a person at Chiche let alone your cute little do. How did you manage to make that work and where being petrified? I don't even have a dog and I'm petrified for your dog and you already came back
Vondell Burns (25:13):
And Val is, well, Val is cultured she's well traveled. She got her own Instagram page, cuz she would take over mine if, um, I let her, but no VE is a, an emotional support animal. So with her, um, qualifi qualification, she's able, if you advocate for her as a, as a pet parent, should she's able to get into places that she needs to get into because I am there. Um, and so, I mean, I also speak a little Spanish, so I was able to actually communicate with official cause I got stopped. Right. They're gonna stop you and ask you, like, why do you have this dog? But as long as you can communicate, you know, your, your situation and your circumstance, it's like any other country. Um, they adhere to service dog policies. So,
Orion Brown (26:00):
So wait, wait, so what you tell them, how you get her in
Vondell Burns (26:04):
She's a service dog.
Orion Brown (26:06):
Oh, okay. Oh cuz you have her, you have her registered as a service dog. Mm-hmm <affirmative> got you. Oh, well then you're just like, yeah, see, I'm wondering if I could do that with like dust bunnies, if it was just like, this is my support pet, but it would just be a dust bunny, like in my pocket. Um <laugh> right. No, no, that's so cool. So how did you now wanna know? And, and Jenique's over here in the comments talking about how she can get Calico on a flight with her. Um, I don't know if Calico is gonna go through the educational process of becoming a service animal, but tell us, was your, was your dog already a service animal when, when she came to you or did you go through that process? I had
Vondell Burns (26:48):
To go through that process with her. I've had her since she was eight months and I got her in there early so she can learn. Um, but yeah, she's been, she's been riding with me for about three years and she goes, where I go if I want her to. Um, and so that's just a part of <laugh>. That was a part of it. Like, because I was gonna be gone for three months. I was like, that's too long to board her, put her with my mom. Who's I think watching this, um, she's in the comments. Um, so I took her with me and that's the decision I, I have to make when traveling too, like she's my responsibility. So I have to figure out how she can come as well.
Orion Brown (27:32):
I love that. It's so wait, does she have a travel style? Does she have like places that she really likes and takes to?
Vondell Burns (27:39):
Uh, my lap that's about it. Um,
Orion Brown (27:42):
<laugh> right on me. So she's good. As long as she's with you, look
Vondell Burns (27:47):
At my mom in the comments. Hello?
Orion Brown (27:49):
Yes I am here. Hello? Ma'am
Vondell Burns (27:52):
Paula Sanko village. That's love
Orion Brown (27:54):
It. Love it. So, so that's fascinating to me about taking sort of your, her pet on, on these adventures. Like ch and chia. Now I can't even say it right. Does she freak out? Does she look, I mean, not freak out, obviously she's well trained, but like did she kinda go, where are we at? Like what's <laugh> what's this?
Vondell Burns (28:19):
So that's funny cuz my dog she's a spirit guide. That's what I call her and places are very spiritual. So I took her to like a Sonte I took her to chia and there is a, there is an energy there. So like her head was a little bit on a swivel. Um, we have to like be mindful of like the wild dogs and stuff that are out there too. So I was all guard as well. Um, but generally she's fine. She'll walk she'll. I mean, people always come to her flock to her. So that's like the biggest hurdle is just walking without being stopped and being asked <laugh> if they can pet her is the biggest thing, but she
Orion Brown (29:00):
She's too cute. Basically. She too cute. You can't take her nowhere. Cause she's so cute. She's so cute.
Vondell Burns (29:05):
Orion Brown (29:06):
<laugh> I love that. What is, what would be, what you would consider one of the wildest places you ever took, taken her to, or one of the places that most people would be like you took a dog, like were you in the club with, with the pup on your side? Or like, not
Vondell Burns (29:21):
One of those. If I were to go out to, cause I I'm sensitive to her to like, she can be a around like loud noises and stuff and I taking her like festivals and things like that. Um, let me see wild. I feel like I lived in the wildest, I think a Sonte is probably the a Sinnot is like a large Body of water. Um, the one that we went to was inside of a cave.
Orion Brown (29:47):
Yeah. Cave holes. <laugh>
Vondell Burns (29:49):
Yeah. So she was literally in this Sonte with me. Oh
Orion Brown (29:54):
She don't been that mineral water all up in her fur trying to get, get that silky shot. Oh no, no we didn't
Vondell Burns (29:59):
Go that far. I'm the not getting in this
Orion Brown (30:01):
Abys oh, okay. It was like writing, but we, we,
Vondell Burns (30:06):
We looked and we saw look from a, from a distance. Um, my friends got in, but
Orion Brown (30:13):
I was not. She's like I'm not having that. Yeah, no I've been, I've been in snot taste before and feel you cause it's, it is really it's a, for those of y'all who have never been to one, they're usually quite clear cuz the water's fresh and it's usually, like she said, Abys she's not kidding. Like it looks like something from a sci-fi movie cuz you look down and then you like, it's a cave under me. Like it just goes yeah. And it just gets black. And um, so you're like, how did these
Vondell Burns (30:45):
Fish get in here? They're like, oh that leads to like the ocean somewhere. I don't know.
Orion Brown (30:51):
Yeah. The whole world is connected. That's basically the, the, the, the lesson with the Sinnot taste is like, you'll go into a cave and walk around and then that sane will be connected to another one that if you do go swim, you might be able to swim under a thing and go around. It's it's interesting. But y'all, it's like, the struggle is real. When you look down, it's like, oh, it's true. We are up high it's in water, but we have real high.
Vondell Burns (31:18):
Oh yeah. So we didn't, we didn't dabble in that. Um, but I think she, I mean, she, she was born and raised in New York, so she's already got the, the grit in
Orion Brown (31:31):
Accent. <laugh> you know,
Vondell Burns (31:33):
She she's good. She's a CityUP she knows how to hop in a car. She knows how to go in a train, a plane. And she's good. Cuz she was, you know, socialize on subway. Um, oh,
Orion Brown (31:45):
Oh wow. Yeah. Okay. Cause subway is no joke. <laugh> I'm still not socialized on subways yet. Let me just tell y'all
Vondell Burns (31:54):
<laugh> that's a hurdle. So she's good. I think I, I think I found my companion for life when it comes to international travel. Oh,
Orion Brown (32:02):
I love that. So for those of y'all who are like, I can't believe I went on this trip with so and so cuz they, you need to need to, you need to get you a service animal and take em everywhere with you and bond cuz they gonna be good friends. Um, they're not, they're not going, uh, wanna go to a different restaurant after you already agreed. <laugh>
Vondell Burns (32:22):
Orion Brown (32:23):
Part. We don't want them problems. So, so I wanna come back to, you got 20 stamps on your passport mm-hmm <affirmative> what was the impetus for you to start filling it up? Like,
Vondell Burns (32:40):
Is this something that you grew up with travel or around travel or was it something that you aspired to and, and kind of dove in? So shout out to moms. Um, I grew up with the travel book, I would say because my mom, although we didn't go internationally while I was younger, she was good for throwing us all in the car. And by the time we were like a certain age on a plane to go places in the states. And I remember very vividly like being so excited to go to Florida or like Chicago or Texas or some or, uh, Virginia, like, um, so I was, I was conditioned to appreciate travel early through road trips and then through flights in general, um, and growing up, I was a weird kid. I was always into like international music. I was listening of Bollywood and, and German music and Russian music.
Vondell Burns (33:42):
Very, very ingrained. You like you. So you got the Afro puffs and you listening to craft work and you're like, oh my God. Okay. I was listening like Tokyo hotel. My mom, probably my sister I know, was tired of my playlist because I would play these songs on repeat too. It was terrible. I mean they're speaking German and Russian, you know, so I was learning languages, young, uh, Selena was on repeat, um, you know, really just obsessed with foreign cultures, young and learning different languages. And by the time I got to high school, I was like fully immersed. I was like Spanish four doing that. Um, and I decided in high school that I wanted to do international business because of my fascination with foreign cultures and then also my need to make some money. So I just melded the two together. I was like, okay, Howard accepted me.
Vondell Burns (34:37):
I need to pick a major. This is the one that sounds closest to what I need to do. Mm. Um, and upon going to Howard and understanding how credits work and, and seeing that international business majors need a couple more credits than other majors. I was like, mm-hmm about same degree. We, we switching it out. So my freshman year I switched over to marketing. Um, because that was a major, I get the same bachelor's, but I needed like a few less credits. And I was like, okay, I'm gonna do this one. And instead of doing the IB major, I just was like, I'm going to do marketing and study abroad and that's gonna be my international experience. Um, and the first time I went abroad was with an organization called the freshman leadership academy. Me, um, we had to raise money and, and pitch our trip and do all this stuff in order to get to China, which was the first country that I went to. Wow. Um, just throw you in there, just
Orion Brown (35:38):
Like, let's take a step back the first country. First time you leave the United States, you go to a country that nobody looks like you, while English is spoken in a lot of places, I feel like China's one of them spots that they're like, no, you need to get up on some Mandarin or some canines, like you can't do this. They got like so many dialects and stuff. How did you even react to that space? Like, what was your first real day now? I'm not talking about the day where you get in and you're like jet lagged and you're sleepy. You just looking for food, but like your first real day in China, what was that like for you?
Vondell Burns (36:16):
It was like, like something out of a movie really, really too, especially because I was coming from Howard, like I was used to looking around and seeing so much diversity in the city of DC in itself. And I was the first time where like, I was like, whoa, <laugh> yo not to say it, but to say it though, like it was an outof body experience like whoa. Um, and too, the social norms were different. Right? Like I would go to the great wall of China with my group. And you would think that we were the attraction, like people were literally lined up to take pictures with us and, and, and forget the wall. Like we were the, we were the reason why people were there. Um, and I mean, we traveled fast. It was like 30 of us, you know, going to places and, um, seeing the sites. And so we really were met with like a lot of attention wherever we went, which was really different. Um, but I mean, we were
Orion Brown (37:27):
Celebratory. I mean, obviously, you know, like it's like the celebrities, it's like, don't be taking my picture. I'm I'm, I'm I'm with my kids, man. I'm with my kids. But like, was it, did you feel like it was, was it fetish? Was it both like,
Vondell Burns (37:44):
So, I mean, we were condition, like we were primed, so it wasn't like, it wasn't like anybody felt some people had different experiences. Okay. I will say there were, there were extremes on the spectrum. My experience was that, you know, I was walking, I was, I prayed over my trip. God was with me personally outta your, um, my experience was great in that, you know, I wasn't offended if somebody came up to me and asked for a photo or like to touch my hair or whatever, I did have a couple people just randomly him up to me and touch my skin. Um, and like observe me truly like yeah. You know, but I mean, I, like, I knew what it was. Right. So I'm not like, yeah. I think you have to come in with a bit of a cultural understanding too, of like what's gonna happen. Yeah. Just and, and be okay with that in some instances and set your boundaries and others. Right. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> so that, that was a thing. Nothing too dramatic on my end. I know a couple people in my group did have some experiences like in the markets and stuff where they might have got held up or like some, some tense situations man went down. Gotcha. Yeah. Um, but I think that for the most part, everybody had a pretty positive experience while they're
Orion Brown (39:13):
And I love what you said, like you're, we're at the great wall of China, but we're, we're, you know, the center of attention and I'm like, you know what? I, not that either. I mean, <laugh>,
Vondell Burns (39:28):
I mean, yeah. There's literally photos of, I have photos of people taking photos with me, you know, instead of the, Um,
Orion Brown (39:38):
So one day you can tell your grandkids. Yeah. I used to be, uh, a celebrity in China. You, you don't believe me. Look, here's some photos right here. You see all the people that waiting in line to take a picture
Vondell Burns (39:46):
With me. Yeah. You have people literally shouting me down, like Beyonce,
Orion Brown (39:51):
Beyonce. Okay. So, so this gets me with travel because I feel like it's the same thing. Especially like, I mean, west, like the Western end of Asia, Eastern Europe, um, places like Turkey, anytime you're in a bizarre or in a market. But I feel like they do this on the continent too. Well, they don't do it as much on the continent, but it's that like Michelle Obama, Beyonce. And you like, <laugh> he think? I look like, no, he doesn't he just saying that. So you come over and buy his rugs. Yeah. But it, I ain't gonna lie, but in China, Jackson, I was like, okay, right. Um, <laugh>
Vondell Burns (40:31):
No, but in China it was like, I, I mean, I was with some taller black guys. Right. And like, people would be like, you guys are on the basketball team. Like, which team are you guys on? Like they just thought the whole team was out there. And we were like, the girls that were traveling with basketball players or something like, and these are genuine questions that they had. So, yeah. I don't know. I think for some people, it might have been that for others, it was like the only black people I see are these black people. And so I'm gonna see if it's you, cuz y'all all look the same to me <laugh> which is
Orion Brown (40:59):
Valid. Like look, and this is where we all have to be. Like, we all have to have a little bit of that understanding of, and I'm sure you experienced when you got there. You were like, who was our waitress? I don't know if it's y'all experience. You said it, you said it sitting there and they're like, which one was your S? And I'm like the little thing I, I dunno. Um, but, but that's something that's just natural in our brains. Like, you know, you get used, you, you get a clearer understanding of nuance in the culture and the ethnicities that you're around the most. And so it, like, people will just look like a vague <laugh> for, for, for most ethnicities, we have that same challenge. So like, I don't, I only get mad is when I get called the wrong name at work in P people know, you know, I, we, you have those moments where it's like, oh, it's only two, two or three light skin chicks in the whole company. So their names are interchangeable. No, they're not. I've been working here for five years. You need to stop <laugh>
Vondell Burns (42:05):
We gotta line somewhere.
Orion Brown (42:08):
And that's the, I think it's a, be thing about travel too. Like, cause what you've told it, any of that stuff happened here, you would probably have a very different reaction to it. Oh yeah. And the context of America, God bless it is different than a lot of the world. And there's something really kind of cool to go into a space where people are dictionary definition and ignorant, like I've never seen. And I don't know, which is very different than having somebody fill up your braids at the coffee shop. You know, it,
Vondell Burns (42:45):
Orion Brown (42:46):
Which I love that. Oh, oh, that happened. The last time I had locks in this lady came up to me, came through the door, I'm paying, came up and went directly in with the hand and I was like, are you touching me? <laugh> that part? Oh, it's just so pretty. I didn't invite you to pet me. Mm. You didn't
Vondell Burns (43:05):
Do that. I wasn't done
Orion Brown (43:08):
<laugh> right. Exactly, exactly. But I've definitely had the moment myself where I've been in space around folks that I didn't grow up around and things like that. I have to say, I, I, I tell this story a lot, but when I went to college, there was this guy, Alex, who was Jewish. And when I tell you his curls were popping, girl, his curls were on 12. They, I mean, he had volume and density and like perfect ringlets but had enough like friends to it that it had like a Afro effect. I was in this man's hair all the time. I'm sorry. I was like, boy, boy, boy. <laugh> how does it do that? And that really does come from that place of, I've never seen this on a person. Yeah. That looks like you or in a space like this. Um, so I actually kind of have fun with that when I travel. Um,
Vondell Burns (44:01):
Yeah. I mean, this is a tangent on that note, but I've had lots on my life since I was six. And so I actually understand the desire to, to touch other tech juice of hair because I never navigated what it was like to have my hair out. Oh. So even me, when I see like beautiful Afros or things like that, I'm like, Ooh, but I know, you know what I mean? Actually, maybe sometimes it's okay for me cuz whatever they're my friend or whatever, but yeah, that, that desire to understand what it's like, I resonate with mm-hmm <affirmative> but I think the, um, the differences like this, uh, entitlement of like, I can do this without asking, or I can say up into somebody's personal space and just like be in their head, which is crazy to me. Um, but yeah. Yes. That's
Orion Brown (44:59):
I totally feel you on that. It's the, this idea of petting zoo versus like true innocent fascination. Right. You know, and even like, I find if it's a situation where you're just like, so like, Ooh, what is this? Yeah. And you catch yourself that I'm not actually that mad at you because you, you are like, I was not thinking that was your space. I shouldn't have gotten into your space, which I, you know, I appreciate that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but yeah, it's I, I have to say going to places like Kenya and seeing these beautiful heads of like tight, tight coils with the sun kissed like red tips and it's and nobody dyed it. And these are like the kids and the teenagers and I'm just like, Ooh, it looks so I bet it's like, wool. I bet it feels so soft. I ain't touch nobody now. Cause I got good sense, but I could definitely see the, the love and the fascination. Cause we're beautiful.
Vondell Burns (45:58):
We are. I agree.
Orion Brown (46:01):
<laugh> cause we're beautiful. And we're interesting. And we do, we do a lot of things that the rest of the world can't do. So really it's, it's hard to live with all this magic <laugh>
Vondell Burns (46:11):
It is but I'll take this any day over any other thing <laugh>
Orion Brown (46:14):
I love it. I love it. So I'm, I'm just realizing like we are, we're like almost outta hour. I wanted to one close out with, uh, well we wanna let everybody know where they find you and all of that, but what would be one of the best lessons or tips that you've learned living sort of this nomadic lifestyle that you would want to share with somebody who's maybe thinking about doing it?
Vondell Burns (46:43):
Ooh, that's a good question. Um, I feel like the biggest piece that I've learned is to not wait for anyone else, right? Like for me, um, I wouldn't have gone half the places I've been in my life. If I needed to coordinate with somebody else on it. That's what I mean. Like I didn't need a friend to move to Mexico, for example. Now when I went to Mexico and established my place in it all, did my friends come? Yes, multiple many people came. You know what I mean? Like if, if I would've waited to, to align schedules or calendar, like that kills a lot of dreams and a lot of plans. So every time, um, especially for those bigger moves, um, so something as big as like traveling across the world, I wouldn't try to lock that in with somebody. I would, I would make map out your plan, book your flights, and then socialize after and say who come in. That's my big, biggest piece of advice.
Orion Brown (48:01):
<laugh> y'all that's that is a gem drop right there. Book your stuff, figure out what you wanna do and then be open to allowing other people into your itinerary. Yeah. Who coming? I'm here for that. Who coming? I need to get a t-shirt that say that? <laugh> who coming? Cause I'm already gone. I love it. I love it. Oh my gosh. Thank you so, so much for coming out and kicking it and sharing. I feel like I learned a lot, especially on the pet side. I don't know. I'm just like, I'm still worried about your puppy at Chichén Itzá. She not even there, she in Tulsa and I'm like, Ooh, that's real high. Like, I don't know. And the way my glasses, they didn't already fell off my face. I would've lost her in five minutes. I been crying. Oh my gosh. But um, I really love this and this was so edifying to, to have this time with you. So thank you for joining. Tell everybody where they can find, cause I know you got multiple handles and we gotta have the dog as well, but where can we find you on the inner webs and where can people tap into you from a networking perspective or production perspective?
Vondell Burns (49:09):
Awesome. I, you, um, just first, before I go into that, thank you for having me on your space. You are an incredible host. Um, I love the questions and I'm definitely gonna be tapped in with you, uh, going forward. So just appreciate you sharing space with me, um, where you can find me, my personal social media is at just Bond's. So you can just click, um, I guess my name on this and find me there. Uh, my business account is thankless pro, um, and my dog's account. So her name is veil V E I L like a wedding veil. Um, and her account is veil, the spirit guide and all of her travel and escapades are captured through that.
Orion Brown (49:55):
Um, why do I feel like your dog has like crystals and she sages every morning, like <laugh>
Vondell Burns (50:06):
She's um, listen, I'll clarify. She, uh, she operates with the holy spirit. So we, we clearing out any of the other, other spirits, um, and whatever tools we use. We use prayer, meditation, fasting. Amen. We got all that going. Um, so they'll, they'll the spirit guy. She, she likes to read energy as well and she keeps it, she keeps it cool around these parts. Um, but now she's a good dog. Uh, she has a lot of fun content. And then from a business perspective, like on thankless pro all of my profiles are linked in the link tree in the bio, but my website is thankless production.com and that's where you can find my services and get in touch with me for consultations and film production as well.
Orion Brown (50:49):
Oh my gosh. I love it. I love it. And now I'm like, I need to give me like a discerning dog as my service dog. Like, oh, she discerns, you need to, she discern,
Vondell Burns (51:00):
She, she didn't give a bark. If you sketchy, I'm telling she really will.
Orion Brown (51:05):
Oh my God, you gotta come back periods. You gotta come back and I'm definitely gonna hit you up because I'd say, well, I've been talking about this for months now. I'm turning 40 next month. And I just like, literally a day ago, booked a flight to Mexico city. So I'm definitely gonna have to pass. Yeah. I was like, I just, I I'm just out, like when you talk about waiting for people, I don't think anyone more here, but I was like, I tried to wait and then I said, Nope, mm-hmm
Vondell Burns (51:38):
Mm-hmm yeah. For your, for your Mexico city trip. We're not putting you in a Selena. Um, but just say that right now. Um, we'll give you Cade because that's the upscale and lavish. Um, but we'll definitely have to wrap. I know the neighborhoods you should be at. I know the restaurants, if you haven't reserved at poo hole yet, please do that because it's already booked three months out. Like yeah, we gotta
Orion Brown (52:03):
Get, oh, snap. Yeah. I mean, you hit you up. Um, I hope y'all that have been watching and in the comments have been getting all the goodness out of this, cuz I am soaking it up. Y'all I'm sitting here. My apartment is pitch black. I was going get up. I was like, but I'm glued. I was like, let me go turn. I'm like, no I'm glued. This was so much fun. This is exactly why we do wind down. I tell y'all every week, wind down, came out of that feeling and come of, I haven't been nowhere and I miss it. And I just wanna talk about it. And I wanna bring, you know, that feeling when you book and all of a sudden, the world gets a little bit brighter when you've already booked your ticket or booked your hotel. And it doesn't matter if your trip is six days away or six months away that warmth, that feeling of excitement that wonder, um, that just lovely release of pressure is so great.
Orion Brown (52:54):
And that's what I try to do every week here and distill that because I love travel. I created a brand around it. Um, and, and I really want you guys to get the most out of travel, whether you're thinking about it, talking about it or being about it. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you all for coming. We are over the hump. It's the end of hump day. Y'all it's all downhill. We just going, we gonna slide into the weekend. So I hope you have a wonderful week. We'll be back again next Wednesday to kick it. So thank you so much. Take care. Thank you. Goodnight. Y'all
Ellee is in the building - and this week she's showing us what it means to be a globe trotting Travel Crush. This native New Yorker has climbed the pyramids of Egypt, took her whole life in her hands on the swings in Bali, and she's still pumped for more challenging, new adventures. Read on for her tips on having magical experiences without breaking the bank, her favorite hack for buying cheap flights, and how she stays in villas without the hefty price tag.
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