Inclusive multigenerational travel. We design experiences for families to travel together with distinct activities geared towards every generation. Well Fit Human offers ease of travel without the hassle of planning for different personalities or abilities as we do all the work for our guest to ensure their experience is tailored to each individual.
As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Wendy Yates.
Yates is the CEO and founder of Abigail-Elise Brands, a collection of companies on a mission to reinvent what others believe to be possible in the world of design, leadership, and global impact. Her award-winning design firm Abigail-Elise Design Studio specializes in interior design and merchandising for commercial, hospitality, and residential projects. Well Fit Human is a wellness-based humanitarian travel company with two branches: Well Fit Human Retreats and Well Fit Human Elevated. AE Cares is Yates’ nonprofit foundation, and both are dedicated to positively influencing the wellbeing of others by connecting needs with resources. AE Properties Partnerships is currently in the works and will focus on creating high-end luxury real estate developments worldwide.
In addition to running her businesses, Yates is the author of the Design Driven Life and host of the podcast the Design Driven Life, a series of upbeat, informational conversations where she talks with experts, entrepreneurs, leaders, social impact investors, thinkers, film makers, inventors, founders and others who share their stories on mindset and perspectives. The goal is to help others gain the tools they need to create the world they want to live in.
Dedicated to being profitable and doing good at the same time, Yates is making big things happen on a global scale and enjoys the opportunity to help others do the same.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I decided to start my first business Abigail-Elise Interiors, Inc. while I was going through a divorce, didn’t have a place to live, and had a two-year-old. My timing wasn’t ideal on many levels, but great things come during challenging times when you are looking for opportunity.
A couple of years ago, I was craving more human connection and felt compelled to make a pivotal shift in my own life that inspired more joy and self-fulfillment. It was from this idea that I created Well Fit Human Retreats, a wellness-travel-impact company that promotes giving back on a global level. Through local and international events we are activating purpose in people, while also creating experiences that improve an individual’s mental, emotional and physical sense of wellbeing.
My goals as a creative visionary have always been far reaching. I don’t just see myself as an interior designer, but instead as a person contributing to society in an impactful way. I’m on a mission to show others that you can be profitable while also leading by example and giving back on a global scale. I’m not sure there is really a defined “career path” for that outside of having purpose and making sure that purpose materializes into a reality. I have a vision and am on a mission that is bigger than myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have always had a tendency to get ahead of myself when it comes to ideas and ways I can scale up my businesses. In the past, I tried to expand by opening multiple locations, adding a showroom, and juggling a variety of unrelated projects. My attempts weren’t entirely incorrect, however I never really had a plan prior to moving into action. I took risks and I won a few and lost a lot, but I believe those experiences ultimately helped me succeed in the long run. I’ve since learned where I want to go and I’ve gotten better about planning how I’m going to get there.
Everyone has ONE life. Taking risks and failing is just part of it. When things don’t go as expected it doesn’t mean you are a failure, it just means you have to ask yourself, “What’s next?” Then get out of your own way.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Looking back this may be seen as funny, but probably not. It’s more ironic. I launched Well Fit Human just months before a pandemic. We had 6 ambitious trips planned for 2021 which put a big twist on a struggling start up, as you might guess. The first trip was scheduled before the pandemic hit and I was sure that all I had to do was tell 20 people and all 20 would say “of course!”, definitely not how it works. The “off time” allowed for more detail, innovation, and thoughtfulness with the experiences we create.
The lesson is that there is never going to be a perfect time to start something. Starting will always be messy, have obstacles and not everyone is going to agree with you. Share your ideas by being vulnerable and comfortable with rejection. Every setback is just a set up for a comeback. In every crisis there is opportunity. If it’s something you feel passionate about, just do it. People will want to rally, collaborate, and support you making your collective unstoppable.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
I challenge myself everyday to evolve into a better leader, thinker, and overall person. My drive and curiosity to learn from others’ experiences and to share my own is, I believe, bigger than thoughts of giving up when times get tough. I am able to face challenges and keep my mental health on track by surrounding myself with people I admire and consistently moving into action.
Take inventory of who is most present in your life and surround yourself with people you admire. Set goals that challenge you and push you to evolve into the person you’ve always wanted to be and reward yourself.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mother has always been supportive, even when I didn’t fully realize it. I also believe that every person that gave me a job or said something kind to me helped encourage me to keep going or to come up with a new idea. For that I am thankful.
My husband Zach has also always been an amazing champion of mine and I couldn’t be more grateful for a life partner that is also my best friend.
Today I am thankful for mentors and coaches that have been championing me through 2020, providing resources, and giving their hearts and minds to help me to continue to grow.
In addition, any team members now and in the past that have been part of the company have played a role in some way of where we are currently.
Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
Well Fit Human Retreats are innovating the travel industry by creating life-changing experiences that focus on a whole life approach through wellness, fitness and humanitarian efforts in an intimate group setting. Our coaches incorporate mental, emotional, physical, and financial wellness to help each traveler design their life. An important staple of each retreat is the humanitarian aspect. We partner and volunteer with smaller grassroot organizations to share the pure joy that comes from helping others.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
Many people feel detached, purposeless and apathetic in their daily lives. We believe that everything is connected and that every decision you make directly affects the environment, humans, animals and the planet. A Well Fit Human travel experience strives to connect you with your best self, to teach you how to live with intention and purpose, and to be aware of the impact of your actions.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
We are disrupting the status quo by creating an experience that enhances your lifestyle, instead of being an escape from life. The key is shifting your mindset from conventional measures of self-worth and being defined by your circumstances to a whole life approach that involves designing every part of your life intentionally. Our initiative is to show people how to thrive, expand and grow through sharing knowledge, experiences and/or finances. We teach there is more than enough for everyone on the entire earth to have everything they want with the help of authentic human connection.
As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?
COVID-19’s disruption of travel has left many people asking companies to make some serious changes to the hospitality industry. At Well Fit Human, we are constantly expanding, innovating, networking and asking our retreatants how to make our experience better. Some adjustments we and other companies are focused on are as follows:
1. More customized customer services. Our whole life approach is committed to emotional, mental and physical health. We choose eco-boutique locations where common spaces are all outdoors and guests have casita style options.
2. Documentation through videography and photography. Everyone has different reasons for joining our retreats and creating the perfect experience is very important to us. We shoot videography and photography for the entire trip, giving our guests the freedom to be present and not worry about catching all the memories.
3. Networking with like minded people. Well Fit Human Elevated Retreats are held on a private island and combine leadership with wellness experiences for entrepreneurs. We help entrepreneurs find a space to grow their profits and create positive impact through networking, mentoring, fitness, and volunteering. Elevated experiences add a new level for integrating work and play by connecting like minded people from around the globe.
4. Humanitarian opportunities. A renewed focus on incorporating travel with giving back as part of the overall experience is becoming increasingly popular. We volunteer with smaller grassroots nonprofits to make a positive impact and immerse ourselves in the local culture.
5. Inclusive multigenerational travel. We design experiences for families to travel together with distinct activities geared towards every generation. Well Fit Human offers ease of travel without the hassle of planning for different personalities or abilities as we do all the work for our guest to ensure their experience is tailored to each individual.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
The word vacation has never appealed to me as I feel it is synonymous with taking a break from life. My personal life and company culture is rooted in a whole life approach meaning that every experience is part of life.
I believe the most valuable travel experiences include time spent surrounded by people who champion you. It also includes reflection, growth, culture immersion, value, learning and giving of knowledge and time. These experiences can come in many different forms, whether it be new friendship, offering a helping hand, or personal healing. At Well Fit Human we believe that you must first start by focusing on the mental, physical and emotional aspects of your life and then you can go on to help others.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am continuously working on different ways to create more positive impact in the world. On a local level there is volunteering, donation and kindness. You can start even with something as simple as sharing resources or information or just giving someone a few moments of your time. Our mission and vision at purpose Abigail-Elise Brands which encompassess Well Fit Human Retreats, is to help find impactful solutions to the problems that fuel poverty, mental illness, displacement, abuse and all the things that begin with a lack of equity and education, by collaborating with game changers to implement alternative options to break cycles at their core.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am motivated by the notion of the ripple effect and by using my skill set as a persuasive personality to lead for improvement for all by showing others how to acknowledge opportunities and help them overcome limiting beliefs. When we share knowledge and work as a global society, there is both greater equity and more room for rise of equality. For me, the movement to end poverty starts with equity, empathy and education on a global level. If we could see money as an expansion tool of the heart (a quote I borrowed from a mentor) and not something to hoard, we would have a greater ability to positively affect the world. If we could encourage more to adapt a mindset of abundance it would be a major game changer for our future generations.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!