Why pay for adventure when you can get it for free and in first class?
At just 23 years old, Ari Somerfield has a whole lifetime worth of experience as both a passenger and a pilot. Since a young age, Ari has been interested in aviation. On family trips, Ari cites looking forward to the flight more than their actual vacation. Ari’s passion led him to getting his private pilot license with an instrument rating right after graduating from high school. Needless to say an enjoyable Friday night for Ari as a nineteen year old was a bit different from the norm, Ari taking a rental plane to visit friends across Los Angeles to beat rush hour traffic.
Although he is looking to pursue film professionally, Ari has taken up travel advising in his free time – a true passion. In high school, Ari worked for a luxury travel concierge and discovered the impact of travel points and racking up miles for future travel. It fascinated Ari that, in strategizing how to maximize your points, you could fly first class for free. Shortly after, Ari had made it his mission to discover the ins and outs in regards to how to accumulate points, getting credit card sign-on bonuses, referring friends for credit cards, and transferring points, to name a few.
After having accumulated enough mileage points, Ari used the points to take his first trip overseas to England, where he flew business class and hasn’t flown anything below business when traveling long distances since. Unlike many travelers, Ari likes to travel for no more than two days to a week, considering himself a homebody. What Ari loves about racking up mileage points is that he can travel the way he likes to, on a whim and for short periods of time. Currently, Ari has over 3 million points and feels best when he has at least 2 million points at a time, so that he is able to take a trip whenever he likes. It isn’t unusual for Ari to fly to Singapore to visit his favorite vegan restaurant or travel to Vietnam for just two days and then hop on a flight back home shortly after. Two of Ari’s favorite flights so far have been his journey from Japan to Singapore, where he had the best vegan meal of his life and his first class trip from Hong Kong to New York flying Cathay Pacific, which he argues has an unparalleled in-flight passenger experience.
In accumulating such vast knowledge of credit card rewards, flying, commercial airlines, planes, and the like, Ari shared this knowledge with friends and family. At one point, however, Ari realized that his passion could be made into a business and started to help others maximize their points in the same way.
Since then, Ari’s business called Miles for Smiles has grown and he has established a process and methodology that he goes through with clients to ensure success. First, Ari has a meeting with his client in order to establish their lifestyle habits and existing credit cards to figure out what program he decides will be best suited for them. From there, Ari advises on which credit cards his client should open and strategizes on maximizing their points. For everyone that Ari works with he guarantees them 500,000 mileage points to use for the future. Ari also has an extensive knowledge of airlines and their product offerings, which will ensure an enjoyable and restful transit experience when he makes the final booking. Singapore Airlines is Ari’s favorite, but he can walk clients through every airline and airplane offered, a credit to his incredible in-depth knowledge of the industry. To date, Ari is responsible for earning 20 million miles for his clients who have flown in premium cabins across the world and is only just getting started.
Right now, Ari says that now is the best time to plan for the future and maximize airline points, given that credit card companies are offering some of the best deals he has ever seen, with major sign on bonuses. But what excites Ari about the future? In terms of commercial aviation, Ari mentions
“the advancements that I’ve seen in a short period of time, like the new products and services coming out are incredible, Air New Zealand, for example is rolling out beds in economy class. New things that are really exciting.” As a vegan himself, Ari also notes that airlines are offering more options than ever for the plant based community, a token to commercial airlines continuing to strive towards greater inclusivity in so many different ways. Personally, Ari tells me that one day he wants to get an aircraft of his own that he can fly around with friends and family. While he works towards accomplishing this dream, he also is excited for the day he works with film director Taika Waititi.
What makes me so certain Ari will reach these goals? His incredible ability to become hyper focused on his passions and find success in whatever he does. Whether it be learning to fly, juggling numerous credit cards and their respective points, or directing a film, I trust Ari to get the job done- and not just well- first class.
My favorite spots in Boston to eat, drink, and enjoy ☁️
It is hard to imagine that my first time visiting Boston was only six years ago, considering how much I regard the city as a second home. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Boston during my four years of college and many memories have been made sitting with friends in a cafe, seeing a late night movie, or walking through the Boston Commons on a Spring day. I finally sat down to think about my favorite places in the city and it was so hard to pick just a few for each category. When it comes to fun things to do and great places to eat, Boston definitely has a surplus. I was able to narrow it down by consulting a trusted Boston expert to come up with this list. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out at least one of these spots… or all of them… just sayin’.
If you are ever hungry- or not hungry but you just need something to keep your teeth company- this is the place for you. Not a bad choice can be made at Tatte that is for sure! My favorites are the pistachio cherry tart, any of their iced drinks, anything with avocado or a poached egg on top, or basically…anything. You CAN’T go wrong here. Also, the quaint café vibes in here are not to be missed.
When I first went to Kava neo-taverna I fell in love. Everything about this restaurant is so special, from the hand painted wall art and nautical, Greek decor to the incredible food and friendly staff. This restaurant is so adored by me and my family that one time, when in restaurant was so full, we sat outside despite it being winter. The zucchini chips, mousaka, keftedes, desserts are to die for. But, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, so I just order one of everything. (You think I’m joking)
Located in Chinatown, Pho Pasteur is one classic Vietnamese restaurant that everyone must go to at least once. The food is super yummy and inexpensive, a perfect meal for when the Boston winds are forcing you indoors for a hot meal. Although the servers mean business, it’s a great, casual place to enjoy a meal before popping into one of Chinatown’s famous bubble tea places to top off.
Being Italian gives me full authority to say that Trattoria Il Panino should not be missed in Boston’s North End. The restaurant has some of the best lasagna I have ever tasted and, if your stomach is up for it, some indulgent carbonara. Whether you are looking for a romantic date spot or a place to host a large birthday party, Il Panino fits the bill. You won’t be sorry when you ask for the dessert menu too.
Barcelona Wine Bar is more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. The bar tenders and servers are some of the nicest I have ever encountered and are incredibly hospitable, willing to offer suggestions on their favorite wines on the list. If you end up going, you have to order a pitcher of their red or white sangria, which is a perfect share for two people. Some of my favorite menu items include the fried brussels sprouts with sherry and pickled onions, and patatas bravas, and hanger steak with truffle vinaigrette. Eating at Barcelona is like walking into a warm hug- you leave wanting another.
This Asian restaurant and lounge in Boston’s Seaport district is a go-to on a Friday night for sure. Empire has a wide selection of really delicious food in a luxurious atmosphere. Did I also mention they have great music? I had a surprise birthday party here and it was one of the best birthdays I can recall in recent times. The sushi is amazing and so is everything else on the menu.
There are so many things that make George Howell unique. First, their coffee is some of the best in the city, with every coffee type available to order. Did you say an iced red eye with almond milk? Yeah, they have that. Coffee sangria? They have that too. The coffee shop is also connected to the beautiful The Godfrey Hotel, where you can sit and enjoy your coffee if the café gets too packed. With a delicious selection of food also on their menu, is there any reason to leave?
Favorite tourist destination
Boston Commons & the Public park
If you are visiting Boston, you have to go to the Boston Commons and Public Park. Whether it be Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, the Boston Commons is the perfect place to take in the changing foliage and fresh air. Strolling through the park is also a great way to cut across the city, while still taking in some great sights. Grab a croissant and a coffee and park yourself on a bench- the park is yours!
I don’t know if it is just me, but ice skating during the Fall and Winter months is just such a fun and exciting outdoor activity. It definitely get’s the adrenaline pumping for sure! Located inside of the Boston Commons, the ice skating on this rink is a great way to spend an afternoon without breaking the bank either.
Kayaking on the Charles River is another seasonal activity in Boston that has to be taken advantage of. The Charles River separates Boston and Cambridge, and kayaking along the river provides excellent views of both cities. This activity is a great one to participate in with friends, so rally the troops and hit the water!
Favorite night-time outing
Bars and Bowling
When it comes to nightlife in Boston, there are tons of things to do, from seeing a movie to Late Nites at the MFA and everything in between. Some of my favorite nights in Boston, however, have been bar hopping and bowling- two activities that are especially fun for a date night or night out on the town with friends.
In terms of bowling spots, Lucky Strike is the place to go! Located in an iconic landmark building in Fenway, Lucky Strike has a full arcade, bowling lanes, a restaurant, and a bar. It’s a one stop shop for fun!
There are so many fun bars in Boston to go to, so it was hard to narrow it down to just three. Earl’s , Citrus and Salt, and Lolitas are top of the list, however, because of their delicious menus, beautiful ambiance, and yummy drinks. Earl’s is especially one of my favorites because of its open-air rooftop! You can’t go wrong with any bar in Boston, but you especially cannot go wrong with stopping by these three!
Everyone can’t leave Boston without buying….
A ticket to a Red Sox, Celtics, or Bruins game.
If there is one thing that Boston can be prideful of it is their sports. I have been fortunate enough to attend a Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins game and I have never been disappointed. The fans are proud and heartwarming, the stadiums are well taken care of, and the odds of a Boston team winning are definitely in your favor. If you are looking for a true Boston experience, attending a sports game is the way to go!
Although a native from Maine, Pamela Mukiza has been living in the Boston area for six years now, having gone to Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and is now working for a local commercial real estate development firm in the heart of Boston. When Pamela is not working on complex projects or looking into her next real estate investment, she is listening to music, obsessing over new skincare products, and planning on what to purchase next for the new condo she shares with her sister Monia. It must be in the blood because Monia also works in real estate, however she focuses on marketing, pricing, selling, and consulting on the buyer’s side of real estate- the two complement one another professionally.
Pamela and her sister just bought their first condo, a dream of the two since they first started saving up after college. There are many factors that contributed to Pamela purchasing her first place, one being the current record low interest rates for borrowing, which means that you are paying a lower interest percentage on your mortgage. Pamela also had enough money saved up for her to feel comfortable with taking the leap into ownership. Additionally, Pamela saw that there were new properties hitting the market in developing neighborhoods that she viewed as appreciating in value over time.
“If you think about renting,” Pamela starts, “you are throwing your money away by not building any equity. When you buy a place, you are still paying a monthly payment, but you are building your equity in paying off your home slowly over time”. Pamela views real estate as being one of the most stable investments, especially real estate in Boston, which is typically always appreciating in value because of limited supply.
Pamela and Monia’s new Chelsea apartment (below)
Trends in Boston Real Estate
Some current trends that Pamela indicated to me are increased concessions in buildings for starters. Boston is such an academic city, yet, because it is not receiving as many undergraduate, graduate, PHD, and MBA students, many buildings are struggling with a surplus of empty apartments. As a result, buildings have started to give concessions, such as the first three months rent free, on their apartments to incentivize renters to move in. Rents have also dropped significantly in order to attract renters in the area. “People who might have previously been on the fence in terms of buying or renting a place of their own are now jumping on board,” Pamela states.
Pamela and Monia, decided to purchase a condo in the Waterfront community in Chelsea, MA, which used to be a historically lower income neighborhood in Boston. Pamela notes that this was the first place that her and her sister saw that they could envision their lives in. Having to make an appointment for a time slot to view the condo due to COVID-19 restrictions, when Pamela and her sister left the place they immediately put in an offer. Pamela mentions that walking the neighborhood really sealed the deal in terms of convincing them to invest. They could see that a lot of investments were being made in terms of upgrading the T-station and new buildings going up that made buying the condo a good future investment, as the area becomes more appealing to others overtime. “You know a neighborhood is on the cusp of major developments when a grocery store chain begins its build or a new or upgraded T-stop is underway” Pamela notes. The easy 15 minute commute to work also didn’t hurt.
Pamela’s Advice for Future Investors
Considering moving now? Do it! If you’re confident in your financial situation and have the money saved, go for it! It seems crazy and intimidating, but it’s not. There is a lot of paperwork, insurance papers, and lawyers involved, but it’s not as intimidating as you’d think.
Look into federal programs offered in your city or states for first time home buyers. There may be some beneficial incentives that you can take advantage of.
Evaluate your situation with public transportation or personal car usage in terms of your needs (i.e. street parking, private parking, etc.).
Make a checklist in terms of what you are looking for (number of bedrooms, hardwood floors, etc.).
Talk to the neighbors if you can. Pamela and Monia ended up running into their future upstairs neighbor and spoke with him during their condo walk through, making sure to ask him about the neighborhood and to get a sense for who lived in the building.
Come at night and drive around the neighborhood so you can to see all aspects of your future surroundings.
Check the demographics online to get a sense of who lives there and how far it is from local amenities, etc.
Do some research on the condo board, read the condo documents, and make sure you understand all the legalities and fees associated with the purchase of your unit, who is managing it etc.
If you are in one, read your lease before you renew it and take into account where you are going to be in the future.
*Condo (HOA) fees depend on how much it takes to take care of and maintain the building and all of the shared amenity spaces. The condo board is elected by the people of the board, takes care of the shared services such as snow removal, a common pipe bursting, etc. They also takes care of shared amenities, establish condo rules etc.
Ever wonder what it is like to live in Kuwait City, Kuwait? Good thing I know someone who does- my bestie Fay!
In my first post of this series, my dear friend Divya, who is originally from New Dehli, India, but has grown up in Nigeria shared her favorite places to go and things to do in a day in Lagos. Next up is my bestie Fay Al Bader. Through hearing Fay talk about Kuwait since we met, it has always been top on my list for places to visit. Fay is my very first- and by no means last- Middle Eastern friend. In knowing Fay, I learned all about the Muslim faith, tasted Arabic coffee for the first time, and introduced more than one Arabic word into my vocabulary (habibi being a personal favorite). Fay’s enthusiasm for the Middle East even motivated me to participate in my college’s Dubai Elective Abroad program, where I traveled to The United Arab Emirates for ten days over Thanksgiving break. Without Fay, there are so many things that would be unknown to me, one of the many reasons that I cherish our relationship and am honored to call her one of my closest friends. Fay was kind enough to “virtually” show us around her home city, so without further ado, Fay take it away!
Kuwait… The Pearl of the Gulf… A land that I am honored to call my home. If anyone has been to Kuwait or met anyone from here, they will undoubtedly know how much love its people have for their country. It may be small to those looking at it from the outside, but to me it is my world and it will always be the most beautiful place in my eyes. One of the things I admire the most about Kuwait is that you still find a deep sense of culture and traditions embedded in many aspects of our daily lives and within many homes, which is something I believe is very rare to find in other parts of the world in our present day. Regardless of how far we progress and embrace change, you will always find Kuwaiti families that are determined to keep our culture alive and to stay loyal to our traditions, traditions that our late grandfathers and grandmothers have instilled in all of us.
I can go on and on about why I have such a deep love for Kuwait, from its unique culture, its phenomenal food to its hospitable people but I will leave it at that. I hope everyone gets the chance to visit my beautiful country and experience all that I have with your own eyes. I sure do love every bit of it, down to the last grain of its fine sand.
They have a lovely selection of dishes, freshly baked pastries and drinks that always uphold to a high level of quality. Their staff and service are excellent. The place also has a great vibe and is decorated with such simple but beautiful elements. It also has floor to ceiling windows so it brings in so much sunlight (which I love to see especially in the morning) and you can see the waterfront because it is located on one of Kuwait’s main roads, the Arabiain Gulf Road, which overlooks the ocean.
Aside from the fact that both these places have delicious food, they also hold so many memories. I often go to both these restaurants with my family and we always order the same dishes, if not more food every time we go. One is more fancy than the other but they both have the friendless staff and maintain an exceptionally high level of quality. Both are also family friendly which I love.
Both these places have exquisite food that is prepared so well. I also like that you find a combination of young couples, families and group of friends at all times so it is nice to be around. In addition, they are not too loud which I really appreciate because I don’t like being in a place with music so loud that you have to constantly scream. Again the staff is extremely friendly and attentive to detail.
White Robata in particular is located in Jaber Al Ahmed Cultural Center (a.k.a JACC), which is one of the newer complexes that houses multiple restaurants and a beautiful Opera House which hosts many concerts throughout the year. Moreover, the restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating areas and in the winter, I enjoy sitting outside because it overlooks the dancing fountain, which always plays many national and/or famous songs that everyone always enjoys. It is so heartwarming to watch families and friends gather around the fountain and enjoy the beautiful show, especially the young children who end up singing and dancing along.
I would say this is my favorite coffee place for multiple reasons. For starters, their selection of coffee and pastries are great. There are also multiple branches that are conveniently located around Kuwait so you can easily find one to stop by. Each branch is uniquely decorated and has so much open space. Again, you always find a mix of younger couples, families and friends, which isn’t the case with many of the other coffee shops. I particularly enjoy this because I feel more comfortable around this mix as opposed to just younger group of friends.
It is dedicated to all the martyrs who lose their lives within the Iraqi Invasion (1990-1991). The park has multiple phases, one of which is still under construction, and includes a few restaurants, tracks for running & walking, an atrium-like stadium (which hosts multiple concerts) and last but not least, a wall that displays the names and pictures of all the martyrs.
This is probably the place that encompasses the greatest amount of Kuwaiti culture, which I found is the most beautiful part about it. You can find everything from traditional clothing, food, sweets, jewelery and so much more as you roam around this historical landmark. More importantly, this place embodies so much of Kuwait’s history of Kuwait and will definitely find a few stores that have been there since Al Mubarkiya was built, many passed multiple generations.
I like going to a mall for family lunch or to do some random shopping. I prefer going in the morning at times just to avoid heavy crowds but sometime I like being around a lot of people because it feels lively. I also like going out for coffee during the day with my family or friends because it is always very natural and chill and you get to sit down for a while and get to enjoy each other’s company after a long and tiring week.
There is something about getting a warm bucket of popcorn and a side of nachos to share and enjoy with family and friends that is so comforting to me. It was also a tradition for my family and I to go out and enjoy a movie together every Friday night so I hope it is something we start doing again. Whether it a comedy or a thriller, I will always prefer going to a movie at night then getting dressed up for another dinner.
Everyone can’t leave Kuwait without buying….
bakhoor, a dara’a, and local sweets
Each and every one of these represents local culture and something special to Kuwait. You can find these items in essentially all other Gulf countries but they will also have distinct variations that are unique to every country.
Bakhoor – Essence
Dara’a – a local piece of clothing that is typically worn with Ramadan and family gatherings. They range from very casual, light designs to beautiful and lavish pieces that take your breath away with the amount of detail it holds.
Local sweets – first of all they are delicious and you never seem to have enough. Second of all, they contain local ingredients and are made from recipes that have been passed down from generations of families. (Of course every family makes it differently and has their own touch, which I love).
Pure World: Promoting adventure through sustainably sourced products.
Jack Flynn is someone who sees opportunity in everything. That’s why when Jack saw a hemp backpack for the first time, he knew that he had to share them with the world- through Pure World. Pure World is a company that sells sustainable backpacks that embody adventure, eco-friendliness, and social responsibility. A start-up founded in college, Pure World is now a fully operating company, sending backpacks to adventurers around the globe. Read all about Jack and his Pure World adventure below!
Jack! Tell us about you!
Hi Ursula, thanks for having me! So I grew up in Attleboro, Massachusetts and went to public school there my entire life. I played lots of sports, took music lessons and studied hard enough to be accepted into Babson College – a school ranked #1 in the nation for entrepreneurship. I chose business school because I believe that it’s the quickest and easiest way to make a meaningful impact on the world.
What was the inspiration behind starting your company Pure World?
I always knew that I wanted to start a company with the minimum requirement that it’d be inherently sustainable. During your freshman year at Babson College, every student is required to start a business. My 14 person team had students from ALL over the world and one of our teammates was from Nepal. She had brought a hemp backpack to school that she had purchased from a street vendor in Kathmandu and our team absolutely fell in love with it. She asked her father to meet with the backpack vendor and to organize a bulk order and the rest is history!
Well that’s at least the story about how we were introduced to our backpacks… but my mantra for Pure World is that it is more than just a backpack company. I had the opportunity to travel and explore the outdoors a lot as a kid and that part of me really came to life when I saw that first Himalayan hemp backpack. Those backpacks belong in the great outdoors. I imagined all of the incredible adventures that our customers would take them on. In my opinion, sustainability is ingrained in our DNA, whereas adventure and free-spiritedness is our true personality.
What makes Pure World products unique and different from other products on the market?
Pure World Backpacks embody sustainable fashion! The organic hemp that we use is local and abundant in Nepal. It requires a fraction of the amount of water that cotton requires and none of the pesticides. Not to mention hemp fibers are extremely versatile and durable too! Apart from the environmentally friendly aspect of our bags, they’re also socially sustainable. Our manufacturer really emphasizes social responsibility! They pay their employees well over the minimum wage and offer many care programs such as educational scholarships, personal finance classes, and health care clinics. I really believe that we sell the BEST hemp backpacks on the market.
What has been the most interesting part of starting this company?
Our goal is to create a community of people who are passionate about sustainability and adventure. It has been an incredible experience to see the type of people who are attracted to our bags. They are people who care about the environment and want to cherish it and explore it in a respectful way. They are friendly and awesome! We are excited to build a platform that can support them. Something that helps them share ideas and meet new like-minded people.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting Pure World? Are there any stories that stick out to you?
To me, the challenges are always the most interesting part! My first challenge was finding a replacement for our original manufacturer. Back in 2017, our bags were cool but their quality was just not quite where we wanted them to be. So after wiring money to half a dozen Nepalese manufacturers and receiving a ton of samples, we chose the manufacturer with the highest quality products and who offered the most employee support programs.
Secondly, facilitating community development has been a challenge. We spent a lot of time building a platform that allows travelers to document experiences as well as access a crowd-sourced database of other unique recommendations for off-the-beaten-path experiences. Unfortunately, servers and software development is expensive. Once our platform is robust enough to support users we are considering offering an access code with each of our Pure World Backpacks.
What does the future of Pure World look like? Do you have any goals or milestones you would like to achieve?
We are always moving forward! Right now we are looking to develop a carbon offset program. This would essentially mean that for every backpack purchased, Pure World would invest in carbon capture technology that would offset all of the carbon emissions associated with shipping and manufacturing the bag. Ideally, we could even take it a step further. Imagine the tagline “For every backpack purchased, we eliminate twice the amount of carbon created”.
Last question, favorite Pure World item?
We sold this one backpack called Purple Moose a while back. I took that bag with me on the most daring adventure of my life: a 10,000 KM solo backpacking trip from Paris to Bangkok. But it was never the specific style that made it special. It was special to me because of memories that I made with it.
Ever wonder what it is like to live in Lagos, Nigeria? Good thing I know someone who does- my good friend Divya!
One of my favorite aspects of college was getting to know people from all over the world. I have spent hours picking my friend’s brains about anything and everything, from what local dishes are their favorite to what subjects they learned in primary school. Those I meet provide a window into new places and lifestyles that I might not know much about. These individuals have helped me understand that the world is so vast and that there is so much to learn, experience, and uncover. Despite this awareness being overwhelming to many, it excites me, as future possibilities seem so great. I hope to visit all of my friends in their native countries at some point, in the meantime I have recruited some of them to offer their insights on the places they love the most. First is my dear friend Divya, who is originally from New Dehli, India, but has grown up in Lagos, Nigeria. Divya has incredible insights on economics, international business, and vegan baking, but today I have enlisted her to share about her life in Lagos.
When Ursula asked me what it feels like to live in Lagos, it was hard to explain the emotion. I have lived here all my life and yet sometimes feels like I’m new here. There’s constant changes happening around the city, but the core and feel of being home in Lagos remains the same. The hustle and frustrations of the city comes in direct comparison with the amazing food and never ending adventures. No matter where I go, I always end up missing Lagos and all of its beaches, and it’ll always be home.
A relatively newer addition to Lagos’ every busy food scene. They have a good mix of international breakfast options along with some local delicacies, that is sure to satisfy everyone’s cravings. The fresh roses and plants spread across the store is an added plus that’s impossible to miss!
Hands down some of the best Italian food I’ve ever tasted in my life. Their gnocchi is a regular in my dreams and worth every carb. La Veranda has been around for about 10 years now and continues to have a loyal customer base with some of the best Italian food in Lagos.
Located by the water, Salma’s has some of the best mediterranean food in the city with a beautiful ambiance. Their falafels and kebabs were definitely something I craved the most when I was away from home. End your meal with an authentic coffee and rose ice cream that will keep you satisfied for days!
It’s a small cafe/book store/music record store that’s been around for years and you can pretty much find any book that you name here. The first time I was here, I spent over an hour walking around, taking the store in. For me, Jazzhole is the definition of calm amidst the chaos and the coffee and delicious cakes is just the cherry on top!
Favorite spot tourist hot spot
Lagos is known for its beaches, and you really could not go wrong with any of the beaches here. My favorite is a beach about 30 minutes away by boat that keeps you away from the hustle of the city with the fresh breeze and strong water currents that leave you wanting for more. Cool yourself down with some fresh coconut water and Atlantic ocean waves to complete the day.
Favorite day-time outing
The constant heat and humidity makes it impossible to be out under the sun for extended periods, but there are several cafes and bars that combine the best of both worlds and are always packed on the weekends during the day. One such place is Moist Beach Club that provides a wide variety of food, drinks, seating options and quick access to the beach. Easily one of the favorites of the millennial crowd in Lagos and for good reason, Moist is always bustling on the weekdays and their Sunday sundowners provide the best excuse for a break before starting the work week.
Favorite local shops
Lekki Arts and Craft Market
The home to a wide array of local paintings, sculptures, furniture and everything you can imagine in between showcasing the diversity of expression and cultures from all over Nigeria. It’s a must visit for anyone looking to indulge in local artifacts at a fraction of the price as compared to the mainstream city boutiques!
Lagos is home to several fun bars and lounges that make the most of the coastal city’s open and fresh breeze and are always packed starting Thursday evenings. W bar is a new favorite amongst the younger generation so be ready to wait for some time before you can get some space to sit or your drinks.
Everyone can’t leave Lagos with buying…
Everyone can’t leave Lagos without buying some local artifacts, which could be as simple as some precious beaded necklaces or a local small sculpture. For food enthusiasts, suya powder is a must which is a peanut and chilli powder that could be used over pretty much any meat or vegetables and adds a yum spicy tang, it’s definitely something I’ve always taken with me when I was away!
Have you ever thought that a semester at sea was right for you? Read all about Justin’s experience to find out!
Although studying abroad is not at the front of any student’s mind right now, it really should be! Planning your academic career around your study abroad experience is critical in making sure you graduate on time and taking the classes you need to. My good friend Justin is one of those people who definitely benefitted from looking ahead, packing in two semesters abroad during his time in college. One of them was Babson’s BRIC program, which I also participated in, and the other was the Semester at Sea program. Justin notes that his semester at sea was a unique and unforgettable experience that he hopes others will consider too. If you think you might be interested or want to know what the program is all about, this will be worth the read!
Justin grew up in Los Angeles, California and was heavily involved in the local Jewish community, which he credits to instilling in him a curiosity about the world and teaching him how to ask questions. Justin brought his passion for learning to Babson, where he attended business school. In high school, Justin focused on associating with a close circle of friends, however, at Babson things changed dramatically. Justin realized the value of forming relationships with people distinctly different from himself. Babson College is ranked by Forbes as the number one college for international students and is home to an international student population that makes up 26% of the undergraduate student body, making it the perfect place to meet people from across the globe. When Justin formed friendships with those from different backgrounds, his perspective on life and the world around him grew exponentially.
Like myself, Justin went on Babson’s BRIC Program his junior year, which only expanded his mind further, as he lived and traveled to Russia, India, and China over the course of three months. Despite having lived in Israel for a summer and having traveled extensively with his family, Justin found that his experience on BRIC was different. On BRIC he was able to learn more in-depth about the cultures that surrounded him through embedded excursions and personal exploration. To him, the classroom was coming alive. From this experience, Justin knew that he wanted to continue to learn while he traveled. He valued the experience of learning about a topic and then going to experience it for himself, which inspired him to apply and participate in the Semester At Sea study abroad program his first semester senior year. Semester At Sea is a study abroad experience where a cohort of students from across the globe study and travel on a ship over the course of one semester. With some extra advanced placement credits from high school, Justin was able to squeeze this extra semester of study abroad into his college curriculum- and it was well worth it.
While on Semester At Sea, Justin visited the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, and Costa Rica over the course of his semester. Although this might seem intimidating to many, Justin had no apprehensions about this next adventure and was excited to see what this new opportunity had in store for him. When reflecting on his experience, however, Justin highlighted the importance of taking the time to process all of the incredible experiences that he had during his travels. “You are having so many unique experiences that are so different from one another, if you don’t take the time to deconstruct what you did, you miss the opportunity to learn and grow” Justin mentions as a take away. “When on Semester At Sea, you have to take the time yourself to turn experiences into learning experiences” and, as a result, Justin kept a journal to document every day spent on and off the ship.
Justin’s notes that his favorite part of this unique study abroad experience was living on the ship. Surrounded by water for days at a time and with no distractions, Justin highlights that you are able to forge deep and meaningful relationships with the people around you, whether it be with peers or professors. Through this, Justin was able to create strong friendships and global understandings.
A typical day at sea for Justin consisted of waking up, having breakfast, taking classes, eating lunch, and then attending more classes. In the evening, Justin had time to complete his assignments and hang out with friends before having dinner and then attending a speaker series that Semester At Sea sponsored nightly. The speaker’s topic ranged based on the upcoming country that the ship would be docking at. For example, Justin notes attending a talk on the history of the Panama Canal shortly before the ship traveled down the canal itself. On land, when the ship had docked, students took part in a field experience based on what they learned in the classroom. When they were not having a field experience, students were free to roam about the country and explore for themselves. Justin notes his trip to Ecuador being one of his favorites, as he stayed with his Semester At Sea friends at an Ecuadorian host family’s house, living like a true local.
Overall, Justin’s Semester At Sea experience helped him to understand that people from other cultures have a distinct way of viewing the world and there is a reason for that, being in the way that they live, their political system, their culture- you name it. In experiencing the people and their respective country first hand, Justin was allowed to relate and connect with people in a new way. “The experience as a whole has made me want to experience the globe even more, making me eager to travel and work with people who are from different countries. There is no doubt that you grow more when you are around people different other than yourself” Justin says.
What is some advice Justin would give to someone who is also interested in Semester At Sea?
Justin suggests that you ask yourself: are you willing to embrace the unknown? And what is your tolerance for uncertainty? There is so much out of a Semester At Sea student’s control that you have to be open minded and willing to challenge your perceptions and beliefs. Justin also mentions that if you prioritize experiential learning, Semester At Sea might be perfect for you. What Justin learned in terms of life skills and experience during this semester abroad is more than he could have ever achieved in the classroom. The most impactful statement Justin made during our conversation was the fact that “Semester At Sea is so unique because, despite such uncertainty and discomfort that can come with travel, you are able to take that step out of your comfort zone because you know you are only a few days away from returning to comfort back on the ship. That is what helps students learn and grow in ways they would have never imagined.” If you ask me, that is a deep dive worth taking.
Have you ever dreamt of becoming a helicopter pilot when you were younger? Can you even imagine growing up and becoming one! Read all about Colonel Blackburn’s journey, right here.
Many people dream of flying, but not very many people ever get the chance. Colonel Dave Blackburn, however, is not one of those people. From jumping out of planes, to flying all over the German countryside, to serving in Operation Desert Storm, Colonel Blackburn has done it all and then some, a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to gain their wings. I am fortunate enough to know Colonel Blackburn through my father, who also served as a helicopter pilot in the Army. Between the two of them, I could listen to their stories for hours and hope to share some of them with you over time. For now, here are some of Colonel Blackburn’s highlights from high in the sky.
Colonel Blackburn, share with us a little bit about yourself!
I grew up in a suburb just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. My dad worked at Bethlehem Steel as a Millwright, fixing cranes on the docks where ships came in to drop off iron ore and my mom worked for AT&T. We were working class people. We lived in a 1,000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 1 bath house. Today, you’d say wow, that’s tiny… one bathroom for four people? When you’re a kid, you don’t know what you don’t know; the house seemed fine. My eventual wife, Lisa, lived a few blocks away and we’ve known each other since 5th grade. We became boyfriend and girlfriend at the end of 9th grade. We’ve been married for 37 years and have three daughters. Two were born in Germany during two separate three-year tours there and our middle daughter, Rachel, was born in Leavenworth, Kansas. Rachel played basketball for and graduated from the University of Nebraska. Rebecca, the oldest, graduated from the University of Kansas. Katelyn the youngest is currently a junior at the University of Kansas, studying computer engineering.
I went to Towson University in Maryland where I joined ROTC. I was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant 1983. After going to Infantry School, I went to Flight School. Flight School was nine months. Our first assignment was Germany. We went back to Germany a decade later (six years total). I served in South Korea, I was in operation Desert Storm with the 82nd Airborne Division. I was a Lieutenant Colonel and new Battalion Commander at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on 9/11. We eventually deployed the battalion to Afghanistan and a few years later I spent a year in Iraq. I retired from the Army as a colonel. It was a tough life with a lot of separation.
What was the training like leading up to being able to fly solo?
Flight School started at Fort Rucker, Alabama on November 25, 1983. It was a big deal to finally get our flight suits, it meant you were some kind of aviator. We had about 2 weeks of class work before going to the flight line, this part of the training was called Primary. It was out at Hanchey Army Airfield. We met our instructor pilot (IP) and got paired up with a fellow student, this guy was called your “Stick Buddy.” I was paired with 2LT Tom Charron, we were rare in that we remained “Stick Buddies” all the way through flight school. Tom was a great American and we got along so well. Our IP was a retired Major named George Reese who had flown helicopters in Vietnam; I think we were his first students. Mr. Reese took us on our “Nickel Ride” (your first ride in a helicopter) in the TH-55, Osage Helicopter, which was a very small two seat helicopter. Hovering was hard. We’d fly out of Hanchey AAF to what was called a “Stage Field.” A stage field was a small airfield that had several runways or lanes. We would do hover and traffic pattern work there. You’d practice maneuvers like a normal approach, normal takeoff, steep approach, running landing, autorotation, slope landing and hovering autorotation.
It was cold when we were practicing hovering. However, I remember sweat rolling out of my helmet. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to master it, and I’d have to revert back to being an infantry officer.
After several hours of practice… (maybe 6 hours) It just happens, it’s like learning to ride a bike. Once you can hover, you can hover. It’s magical…
The aircraft is suddenly just steady. After about 10-12 flight hours we soloed. The IP would just get out and we took the aircraft out to the active runway and we’d do one traffic pattern (Traffic Pattern = up-wind, crosswind, downwind, base, & final). Eventually, we soloed out from Hanchey to the stage field. Flying straight and level is easy. I remember early on… You’d call Air Traffic Control(ATC) at a reporting point saying you’re inbound. ATC would say… Roger, whatever callsign, runway 27 in use, report entry left downwind. I remember Mr. Reese telling me to look at the airfield’s windsock and figure out the landing direction… I was thinking Hey buddy, I’m just trying to steer this thing… I have no idea about wind direction, but eventually you get it. Mr. Reese was always on the flight controls, so I never knew if I was doing the auto or was he moving the flight controls. At the end of what was called “Primary” we took our first check ride. I flew well on my first check ride. I still remember the IP gave me a 92. Mr. Reese was surprised I scored that high- he didn’t say it, but I could tell.
How did you first become a pilot and maintenance test pilot?
After coming back from Germany as a young captain, we went to Fort Rucker for the “Advanced Course.” Today, it’s called the “Captain’s Career Course,” which takes six months. I knew the army was always short aircraft maintenance officers and I saw it as an opportunity to stay in a unit rather than going off to what commissioned aviators called the “3-Rs” (Rucker, ROTC, or Recruiting). So, I volunteered and after the Advanced Course we went to Fort Eustis, Virginia for the AH-1 maintenance test pilot (MTP) course. The MTP course was 12 weeks long; the first part was 9 weeks of classroom, and the final 3 weeks was learning to test fly the aircraft. The final part of the course was very difficult… I don’t know how tough the other aircraft courses were, but the Cobra course was tough. There were only 4 of us in the Cobra course. We had to memorize the maintenance test flight checklist. So, the instructor pilot (IP) is in the front seat reading the checklist step and you have to repeat it and say what you’re doing and looking for, as spelled out in the checklist. Example…IP says: DC Generator switch. Student replies… DC Generator to DC Generator, note no change… It has been 30 years and that was an easy task that has been seared into my mind. I still remember other checklist items. I went to South Korea after the course and my wife, Lisa, and our first daughter stayed in the United States. I was there 21 months in the 2nd Infantry Division’s attack helicopter battalion in Uijeongbu, South Korea. A normal tour is 12 months, but I extended for an opportunity to be a company commander. Upon return to the United States, I went to Fort Rucker for the OH-58D transition course and after that course I went to the OH-58D MTP course at Eustis. After the course I reported to the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg and a few days later I was headed to Operation Desert Storm.
How many flight hours do you have and is it difficult to learn how to fly a helicopter?
I was a maintenance guy and maintenance guys don’t usually get nearly as many hours as line pilots or operators get…So, I don’t have many hours. I have 1,083 hours.
How many different helicopters have you flown and do you have a favorite and why?
I flew the UH-1H, Huey, the AH-1F, Fully Modernized Cobra, and the OH-58D, Kiowa Warrior.
The AH-1F, Fully Modernized Cobra was my favorite aircraft. It has guns, it has air conditioning (as long as the Turbine Gas Temp. was below 820 degrees centigrade), and it just looks cool- it’s sleek looking.
What is the best piece of advice that someone has given to you in regards to flying?
The internet didn’t exist when your dad and I went to flight school. Today, it’s a tremendous asset. I’d study everything you can find about flying. If you have the money, take private flight lessons in a fixed wing aircraft. If you don’t have the money for lessons in an aircraft, buy the best computer based flight simulator you can afford. You can learn a lot about how to fly instruments. Back then, 95% of us knew nothing about flying instruments when we started.
If you’re going to fly for the Army you’ll have to take the Flight Aptitude Selection Test(FAST). I recommend finding out everything you can about the FAST. Check your eyesight and see what the Army requires. For us, it was 20/20 uncorrected. Today, you may be able to get Lasik to correct to 20/20, but a flight surgeon will know. Check to see if you’re colored blind, that can eliminate a candidate too.
Do you have any memorable stories from your years flying?
I remember doing a test flight in a Cobra at Ft. Brag. I was in the 82nd Airborne Division, so the aviators also conducted airborne operations. Why aviators jumped is a good question, but back then we did, but not anymore. I was flying a Cobra in Test Flight Area 2 and we were doing a “Topping Check.” It’s a test flight maneuver where you fly up to 10,000 feet and pull the aircraft’s maximum power… The intent is to get the main rotor rpm to bleed off. So we’re up at 10,000 feet and off in the distance you can see Fort Bragg’s four biggest drop zones… Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Holland. They’re huge. That same night we had a “midnight ride”… meaning we had an airborne operation with a time on target of around 24:00. I walked out the door of an Air Force C-141 over Holland DZ and as I flew that afternoon, I thought to myself I’m in the only Army in the world that I can fly a Cobra at 10,000 feet in the afternoon, and jump out of a C-141 at midnight at 800 feet.
Was there a time where you were ever apprehensive about being a maintenance test pilot?
Apprehensive? No. A general test flight is set up so that you do run up checks first. If everything is ok, you do hover checks. If everything is ok you do flight checks.
If you could choose one person to fly co-pilot with you (disregarding their flight qualifications) who would it be and why?
Your dad and I never flew together. That would be very nice.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in learning more about aviation and maybe getting their pilots license?
I can only recommend from an Army perspective. If you want to fly Army helicopters and flying is your thing, I recommend you become an Army Warrant Officer. Warrant Officers remain in flying units doing flying jobs almost their entire career. You won’t make as much money, but you’ll fly. If you want to fly during some assignments, but want to lead people, become a lieutenant and go to flight school.
Check out universities that offer flight degrees. Embry Riddle is one. You can graduate there with an instrument rating (ticket). I think a university in South Dakota has a flight degree as well.
Sometimes we must lose ourself to find the best parts of ourself all over again.
Growing into yourself as a young adult is one of the hardest things you can do. No one tells you what your passion is, what your hobbies are, who your best friend will be, or how to spend your time. And that is a good thing. No one knows you better than yourself, which is why it takes a long time and some deep reflection to uncover the less obvious truths about who we are.
One of the most challenging things about growing up is realizing that who we are and what we like don’t always align with who others are and what they like. Yet, at a phase where fitting in and belonging feel so important, it is tempting to ignore our truth and be guided by the rest. But, when we do so, it isn’t unusual to look in the mirror and think “this doesn’t feel right, but maybe this is what finding me looks like.”
It takes a lifetime to figure out who we truly are and every stage of life brings us closer. As my good friend Liza reveals, sometimes an undoing process is necessary to finding true contentment and is not impossible to uncover if you feel yourself slipping away. It just takes a bit of stillness and a two Euro tea.
I have a long list of schools I’ve attended- from elementary to college, I’ve had a tendency to jump around. I’ve always left out of my own volition and I haven’t used transferring schools as a way to run away from my problems. I’ve always made friends, I’ve always found a nook or cranny that becomes “My Spot”. But I felt like I was always searching for something more. While I was content, I wasn’t myself.
In the spring of 2019, I decided to transfer to Brown University from the University of Southern California. I had a blast my freshman year and had tons of friends- but from the moment I stepped foot on campus, I knew in my gut that it wasn’t my place. Whether or not this is too pretentious- it kind of is, I’m self-aware-, I felt too neurotic, too serious, too pensive for sunny Los Angeles. My mind was always elsewhere, dreaming of roaming the halls of old libraries and wearing turtlenecks, as opposed to walking down fraternity row and wearing game day apparel.
I had tried to turn my introverted self into an extrovert because I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do in college. And it was, quite frankly, exhausting.
So I was off to Brown…not.
I was admitted to Brown for the spring semester and was to spend my fall term at Trinity College Dublin in a program for transfers. The privileged brat inside me had her alarm bells ringing: but I always wanted to study in Paris! Who does their abroad semester in sophomore year? Although my track was already a little different, being a transfer, I was a bit peeved at yet another roadblock thrown into my journey to Brown.
I was lucky enough to spend that summer in Berlin, which was more incredible than I can begin to explain, but that’s a story for another time. I had felt more free and more myself living alone in a foreign city, away from the social confines and expectations of a university. I only knew the fifteen or so kids in my program; it was too small to form a weird, high school-esque hierarchy and I made three best friends who I shared everything with. Yet somehow, when the fall came around, all I wanted was to be back on a college campus.
Dublin wasn’t perfect. I didn’t love my classes at Trinity and I didn’t have the Normal People love story with a pensive Irish boy I expected (I’m very idealistic). I kept falling ill and struggled to figure out the Irish healthcare system while barely being able to get out of bed. I don’t usually get homesick, but I missed my family. I was lonely. But my time in Dublin brought out a piece of myself I left for dead when I went to California in 2018.
I learned to love being by myself again. There was no expectation for what I was supposed to be doing or who I was supposed to be doing it with. I pride myself on being an independent person, but I still get caught up in the drama and games of college cliques and the culture of “popularity”- it’s hard not to. But in Dublin, none of that existed. No one knew me and I knew no one. I have never felt more distinctly myself than when I was anonymous and alone in a foreign city.
Let’s be clear- it wasn’t pure, off the rails, unencumbered joy. But I found contentment. I found simple routines, basic pleasures that were mine and mine alone, shared by me and me only. I had a handful of close and true friends; we were bound by the shared loneliness and confusion that comes with being thrust across the ocean when you hoped you would be elsewhere. My social life consisted of going to coffee shops and ordering a two Euro tea so I could sit there for five hours with my book; getting dinner with friends and being in bed by 10 pm on a Saturday night; exploring old churches and finishing off the day with a cheap cider.
There was no hypothetical social calendar I felt I had to adhere to. I began to unlearn a year of trying to keep up with people I had little to nothing in common with.
People always tell you that in college, you will finally find your people. You will finally find your niche and it will all be seamless and wonderful and you’ll realize how much better the place you’re in now is better than your high school. But honestly, that’s complete and utter bullshit. People suck, life is hard, no matter where you go or how old you are. You can still get sucked into caring about the social food-chain, even when you’re supposedly in a place where everyone is above that.
My fifteen-year-old self would hate to hear this, but I don’t think college will be the best four years of my life. I really don’t. I love learning, I love meeting new and diverse groups of people, I love challenging myself. But I have never been more Me than when I was 3,000 miles from home and free from the hand-holding, confining grasp of American university life. Even at Brown, my dream school, I still see remnants of the things I disliked the most at USC. I still catch myself, in moments, trying to adhere to what my high school self would think was acceptable. Which is beyond silly.
I’m going to try to relive this autumn in tandem with last year’s fall. Obviously, the realities of today will make things look a little different. But I will continue to invest in myself and the things that make me feel warm, proud, and truthful. There is safety and joy inside yourself- you just need to know how to look for it.
The Retail and Luxury Goods Conference at Harvard Business School (HBS) has always been an event that I look forward to every year. I come away from the conference having learned so much from the esteemed panel of speakers HBS invites and a notebook full of insights from the event. This year, the conference’s keynote speaker was Rimowa‘s CEO and President Alexandre Arnault. At just 26 years old, Arnault became the CEO of Rimowa in 2017, when the company was taken in by the LVMH group. Despite being acquired at a lofty €800 million valuation, Arnault had his work cut out for him in transforming a classic luggage brand into a modern item for Millenial and Gen Z consumers. In just three years, Arnault has completely reimagined the company, while still retaining its core identity in superior luggage craftsmanship and design. So, what has Arnault done and how has he done it? In his keynote speech, Arnault addressed a few critical decisions he made which have helped Rimowa become even more successful in the 21st-century retail marketplace.
1) New Leadership Style
Throughout his presentation, Arnault stressed the fact that he wanted to transform the brand’s internal identity from a traditional corporate management system to operating like a start-up. First, he emphasized the importance of everyone within the company identifying as a team, using “we, not I”. This group mentality allows for every stakeholder to take ownership of the successes and failures of the business as a whole. This attitude also helps to instill greater collaboration, unity, and trust within company culture. Arnault also implemented the practice of “engage. disagree. commit.,” meaning that decisions within the company are allowed to be challenged and disagreed upon, however, once a decision has been made, everyone must commit fully to its implementation. Similarly, this practice helps to focus and motivate employees towards a common goal, despite differences of opinion. The three other targets Arnault focuses on are “move fast and light, be design driven, and embrace the unknown,” core goals clearly tied to the Rimowa brand.
2) New Products and Collaborations
One of Arnault’s most defining features to the outside world is his age- at only 26 years old, Arnault began leading over a half a billion-dollar company. However, Arnault’s age just might be his greatest benefit. Arnault has the ability to understand the current and next generation of consumers. It was this insight that motivated him to increase the number of product launches Rimowa has per year. Rimowa’s number of new launches per year went from 8 in 2016 to a staggering 28 in 2019 per year. Rimowa has partnered with high-end and exclusive brands such as Supreme,- whose collaboration sold out in 16 seconds– Dior, and Moncler on these new product releases. Rimowa’s luggage is easily identifiable through design elements, such as its ribbed exterior shell, hard casing, and signature wheels. Therefore, this luggage provides a blank canvas for collaborating designers to express their own brand’s uniqueness, while still ensuring consumers know its a Rimowa product first and foremost- a clear win-win for both parties.
3) Revamped Brand Identity, but Retained Differentiator
Rimowa also went through a complete rebranding, some major changes being a redesigned logo, a new website, and a new slew of brand ambassadors, such as tennis star Roger Federer and the top model Adwoa Aboah. These changes have helped communicate a message to the world that Rimowa is now on the cutting edge and you should be paying attention. One thing that Arnault has made sure not to tamper with, however, is Rimowa’s classic design and craftsmanship, which is what retains the company’s true brand value. You can easily tell a Rimowa piece of luggage coming down the luggage shoot from any other black canvas rollie being churned out.
4) Celebrity Endorsements
Along with Rimowa’s new face has come new endorsers of the brand. Huge celebrities like basketball player LeBron James, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, to name a few, have jumped on board in representing the company. The diversity in these high-achieving celebrities is especially key, demonstrating the luggage’s appeal to just about everyone who can dream big. Arnault notes that his focus on marketing, and especially social efforts, has paid off, given that their Instagram account has grown from having 38,000 followers in 2016 to 402,000 in 2019. What was once seen as an expensive piece of luggage is now a marker of adventure, status, achievement, and much more.
5) Labor and Distribution Changes
Lastly, Arnault notes that it was the major restructuring that took place that helped the company achieve significant gains within the retail marketplace. In terms of labor, Rimowa cut the number of people required for production and reallocated jobs to retail services, as a result of the company opening 77 new stores over the past 3 years. Additionally, a drastic evolution in their business model, going from uncontrolled wholesale to a precise retail operation, is one way the company achieved more financial stability. Arnault saw that the company needed greater control over their product and restructured its channel mix, providing only 25% of its product to wholesale compared to 75% previously, increasing retail distribution to 68% from 25%, and increasing e-commerce sales to 7% from 0%. Changes to the labor and channel mix have definitely paid off, resulting in an increase in annual revenue from €443 million in 2016 to €455 million in 2019.
All things considered, it will be interesting to see what Rimowa’s next move is in adapting to the retail challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has raised. With traveling being drastically reduced and normal jet setting taking a pause, spending on luggage in the foreseeable future will take a major decline. Yet, one way Rimowa has shown to be adapting to the limitations of such a niche product is through product differentiation, having recently launched its own eyewear range. Looking back on all of the flexibility Rimowa displayed and changes it has been able to make over the past few years, although the future seems uncertain, I hope Rimowa is here to stay- and I think it will be.
The information and numbers shown in this article are derived from the keynote slides presented at the HBS Conference.