Nikita Tolani: Fusing pop-culture and luxury travel
December 11, 2019
Nikita grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, very close to NYC. Her family is originally from India, making travel and culture a major part of her youth. One of the first trips she remembers was visiting Paris and Switzerland at just 6 years old. Starting young is ultimately what gave her the travel bug as an adult and led her to begin launching her own travel agency that combines luxury experiences with pop culture.
What are you currently working on?
I have been working in Digital Marketing for most of my career. I was recently laid off, which lit a fire under me to start a travel business. I'm aspiring to create a company where we build bespoke luxury travel experiences inspired by pop culture. To build my expertise further, I’m currently doing part time travel assistant work for the agency, Anthology Travel, and contractor marketing work for an entertainment streaming service.
How was the idea for your business born?
My whole life I've been obsessed with entertainment and pop culture. Recently, a lot of my own trips were inspired by my favorite movies and TV shows and their filming locations, so I figured others out there might want to have the same experiences as well.
How do you balance the demands of a job and daily life with nurturing this dream?
I’m not going to lie, I’m not balancing it well at the moment while working full-time hours. My plan is to dedicate WAY more hours to the business as soon as my contract job is up at the end of January. I don’t plan to look for another job for 3 months so I can commit to getting something off the ground. I plan to start by building out content first to see if there’s interest and then go from there.
What has been your boldest career or life change?
My boldest career change was leaving my secure job at Viacom after 8 years to work for a reality TV star in brand marketing for her business and personal brand. It was a small, start-up vibe, but also required me being on TV for parts of the gig. It was a risk, but I needed to do to know I could survive out of my comfort zone.
My boldest life change right now was getting a dog! I’ve never had a pet before, so this was a challenge I was 100% excited and ready to take on, no matter how scary it sounded.
What has been the biggest obstacle during your journey?
My own hesitation to press start on this concept is probably my biggest obstacle. Getting past the idea phase and turning it into something tangible has been a challenge for me. I’m letting my lack of business savvy get in the way and that’s something I just need to get over.
How would you like to impact the travel industry?
I’d love for consumers to think differently about how they can travel. Doing something inspired by your favorite show or movie doesn’t just have to be a tour or a visit to a theme park. There are so many more options that aren’t necessarily easy to find. These opportunities can feel high-end, be entirely customizable and something you can brag about on your ‘gram.
We all know travel can bring us to unexpectedly * magical * moments . Tell us about one you’ve experienced.
On a trip to Croatia, which I was excited about because Game of Thrones was filmed there, my now husband proposed to me. He got down on one knee on the Island of Mljet, a national park actually featured in the book The Odyssey, with the backdrop of a beautiful blue lake to frame the moment.
How are you using what you've been given in life to bring more good to the world? (Or how would you like to?)
I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing mentors throughout my professional life. My goal is to pay it forward to anyone who needs help, whether it’s giving advice from my own experience or connecting friends and colleagues to my vast network of people I’ve met over the years to help each other out.
Beyond that, I’m currently limiting my intake of animal food products in an effort to limit my environmental impact.
Can you share your favorite “undiscovered” destination?
Blairgowrie, Scotland. It's a peaceful location in the Highlands, near the biggest national park in the UK and apparently has really great beef.