September 6, 2023

The Journey of 'BlackTravelBox': Orion Brown's Entrepreneurial Odyssey

Innovation on the Go: Orion Brown's Journey to Travel-Ready Personal Care


In a world where travelers often face personal care product challenges on the go, Orion Brown emerged as a catalyst for change. Her transition from the corporate world to founding "BlackTravelBox" encapsulates the transformative journey of a visionary entrepreneur. Join us as we embark on an exclusive Q&A interview with Orion Brown, the dynamic founder and CEO of "BlackTravelBox." In this dialogue, she unveils the hurdles, victories, and illuminating insights that have defined her extraordinary entrepreneurial expedition.

Orion Brown, the founder and CEO of BlackTravelBox.

A discussion with Orion Brown, Founder of BlackTravelBox

Could you share a bit about your background and what led you to start "BlackTravelBox"?

Certainly. The journey to creating "BlackTravelBox" was twofold for me. On one hand, it was a reflection of where I was in my career and the readiness for something entirely new. I had spent over 15 years in the corporate world, cherishing every vacation but consistently facing a common issue – the unavailability of suitable personal care products, particularly for my hair.

Traveling meant running into these hurdles, and it was a tipping point when I found myself in Japan during springtime, only to experience extreme heat and humidity that turned my hair into a mess. That's when I realized I had nothing suitable to manage it. I searched every commissary on the island, but to no avail. This experience wasn't unique; it was a widespread problem for travelers like me, which motivated me to find a solution.

When did you officially embark on this journey, and what initial challenges did you encounter?

The journey began in 2017. Initially, the primary challenge was maintaining focus. This idea had been swirling around in my mind for about six months before I decided it was time to take action. I registered the business, which was a somewhat unconventional first step, as most people start selling products before formalizing their business structures. However, it was my way of committing to the idea.

Yet, life's demands, the holidays, and working full-time took me away from it for a while. So, in 2018, I got back on track and focused on laying the foundation. Given my background as a brand strategist, I concentrated on designing the brand's identity and understanding the consumers' needs. I invested time in research, surveys, and even asked my friends to take pictures of what they carried in their bags to gain insights. By the end of 2018, I had a clear roadmap for the brand's mission and product offerings.

When you finally had your initial product, what was your marketing strategy, and how did you go about building brand awareness?

You're absolutely right. Creating a solid foundation is crucial. As for the marketing strategy, it was somewhat accidental in the beginning. I didn't run any paid ads for the first two years. My approach was different because I was viewing the business through a corporate lens. I believed in the concept of a complete 360-degree launch for a brand, but I realized that I didn't know my products well enough yet.

So, I focused on leveraging influencers, not for them to promote the products, but as testers and sources of valuable feedback. These influencers were travelers who could provide unique insights because of their frequent journeys. In parallel, I garnered some attention from publications like Cuisine Noir and She Unplugged, which led to interviews. Essence and Beauty Independent also came calling, and this snowball effect generated significant buzz around the brand.

What's been the growth trajectory for BlackTravelBox since its inception, both in terms of sales and impact on the market?

Our growth has been steady. We're currently operating in the six-figure space. However, it's important to note that the travel industry took a significant hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected our business. Nonetheless, we're now witnessing a rebound in travel as restrictions ease.

Additionally, we have a substantial partnership in the hospitality sector on the horizon, which will transform the dynamics of the business. This could be seen as a pivot in some ways, as we re-allocate resources and expand our reach. I'm excited about the trajectory, but it's essential to ensure we're adequately resourced and have the right infrastructure in place.

Adapting to changing circumstances is crucial for any business's survival. Speaking of which, as an entrepreneur, how do you maintain your motivation and passion on this journey?

It's important to acknowledge that motivation doesn't come every day. Entrepreneurship isn't about having unwavering motivation 24/7. Instead, it's about keeping hope alive consistently. There are days when I find myself spending the entire day in bed, simply because life happens.

The hustle culture often promotes working non-stop, but that's not a sustainable approach. What's more important is having a sense of purpose and knowing why you're doing what you're doing. For me, it's about creating something valuable for people. That's what keeps me going, even on the tough days.

That's a refreshing perspective, Orion. Lastly, what advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting their entrepreneurial journeys?

Great question. I would say the most critical thing is to know your "why." Understand why you're creating your business, as everyone will have an opinion on what it should be. Your "why" will serve as your North Star amidst all the advice and opinions you'll encounter. Entrepreneurship isn't about conforming to a one-size-fits-all model; it's about staying true to your vision and purpose. So, define your "why" clearly, and let it guide you throughout your journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover Your "Why": Orion emphasizes the importance of knowing your purpose as an entrepreneur. Your "why" will serve as a guiding star amidst the multitude of opinions and advice you encounter on your journey.
  • Adaptability is Key: The journey of "BlackTravelBox" highlights the need for adaptability in entrepreneurship. Being open to shifting gears and reallocating resources can be vital for survival and growth, especially in the face of unforeseen challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

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