This month, we had the honour of interviewing Lystra Sam, CEO and Chief Curator of QmooniTi.
Lystra Sam was born in Trinidad and Tobago but has called several countries her home over the past 30 years. Most recently, Lystra has been able to call Vancouver “home” for more than a decade. “I’m what some may call a ‘serial entrepreneur.’ I have been developing my business throughout the years to become “work from anywhere” as I like to spend as much time as possible travelling to explore different cultures,” she says.
Although a woman of the world, Lystra’s “base” is Vancouver, where she lives and works in the downtown core. “It’s convenient for me to live and work in downtown Vancouver as there are no long commutes I have to stress about,” she says. Her electric scooter and legs are her most common modes of transportation, and she enjoys being able to take meetings out in nature while on a hike, walking the seawall, or on a park bench in the sun interviewing for a podcast. “The choices for a calming, easy, and beautiful environment are endless!” she exclaims.
QmooniTi is a Travel Agency specializing in curating travel with a focus on culture, environment, and people through a decolonized lens. The company leverages its expertise in areas such as educating, advocating, and bridging gaps in the industry for more secure, curated, comfortable, and equitable products and services. QmooniTi focuses on safety and inclusivity for travellers who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour), peoples with disabilities, 2SLGBTQIA+, and new or solo female/femme travellers. “After George Floyd was murdered, I pivoted my attention to focus on exactly why I started this type of intentional travel business in the first place,” says Lystra. She created a workshop series entitled “The World When Black,” an educational series about the experiences that Black, Indigenous, and POC’s face when travelling. “It was a sold-out success that led me to dig even deeper into my community capacity development with QmooniTi and my two other brands,” she says.
Travel and tourism was one of the most impacted industries in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Anyone working in this industry knows that “change” and managing change is normal; however, COVID was different,” she explains. As a new brand in the hospitality sector, Lystra found the pandemic “challenging on another level.” With that said, through all of the uncertainty, Lystra found a new sense of determination. “After getting my clients home safely and cancelling trips that were booked up to December 2020, I was determined that not only would I not be taken down, but I would survive and come out thriving when it was all said and done,” she says. In order to keep her business and brand alive, Lystra put emphasis on brand exposure through interviews, podcasts, panels, and public speaking. “I’ve been collaborating with other brands in the ’wellness’ industry to help create awareness of QmooniTi and highlight that there is a lot of work to be done if we want ’wellness’ for everyone in our society,” Lystra says. Through her hard work and dedication, Lystra has received recognition and support from wellness and lifestyle brands like Lululemon and Hollyhock. “There is talk of a travel documentary between myself and a production company that has approached me recently- things are brewing!” she says.
With her focus on wellness, Lystra practiced self-love during the pandemic and completed a Community Capacity Building program through Simon Fraser University. She hopes to continue her education and complete a Master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. “As a lifelong learner, I’m always looking for ways to make my business stronger while elevating and empowering my QmooniTis (communities),” she says.
“Travel always comes back! I’m going to make sure to be deliberate and intentional about the way I develop and position my brands and myself for that comeback,” says Lystra.
Lystra has curated an unbelievably beautiful retreat experience for Black and Indigenous women who are leaders in their QmooniTis. The trip takes place in October 2021 and carries the theme of “Rest.” Space is limited! To register or for more information, click here.