With recent appearances on Huffpost Live & BET amongst her exploits, Evita’s celebrity is steadily growing. As a visionary, leader, and mother of dragons, Evita Robinson has proven the khaleesi of the Nomadness Travel Tribe. From her heroics of being first on the ground responding to the tragic bus accident that killed and injured Tribe members traveling in Panama, Evita’s courageousness and dedication knows no bounds. Directly and indirectly, the Tribe as it is affectionately called, has been helping remove the stigmas of how people of color are viewed across the globe. People of color are gentlemen, travelers, fashionable, connoisseurs and are all about new experiences just as much as any other culture.
Mr. Refined™ Magazine (MR): It is an honor and privilege to interview Evita Robinson, Founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe. This is a far cry from when we were roaming the campus of Iona College. Did you think you would be here?
Evita Robinson (ER): It wasn’t on my radar back at Iona. With a major in Mass Communications and a minor in Fine Arts, I was thinking I wanted to be a producer and on television. My focus was in television and video production and that focus sort of came and went back in college. After college, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life before I went into the world and started a career. I had no idea it would take shape into what Nomadness is.
MR: What was the impetus for Nomadness?
ER: It was a freak thing that happened. Nomadness had a couple of lives before the Tribe came about. I had a personal blog, EvieRobbie, about my travels and who I am. I always had a niche for writing. I used to do spoken word. Writing is how people knew me. A year after graduation, I was working for a production company in NY. One day HR infamously called a bunch of us into a conference. My boss got fired that day, which threw my offer for coming on as staff out the window unexpectedly. I needed to find a new job. That weekend I ran into someone that graduated a year after me, Joanna Pena. She had just got back from Japan. She said, “You talk so much about living abroad and was so in to travel and loved being a Paris. You should consider working in Japan.” I had no interest or background in Japanese culture, but I applied because I needed a job. I wanted to see what could happen and where I could go with it. That’s when I started creating the video vignettes that became the NomadnessTV. The web-blog was one thing. The web series is where people became familiar with Nomadness. Then after that is how people came to know Nomadness Travel Tribe.
MR: Did you ever think it would be this big?
ER: No. I didn’t know what I was starting, not even a year into it. For someone that never paid for PR, a lot of it was word of mouth, brand loyalty, the love people have for what’s happening, how it’s grown, and the family vibe cultivated within the walls of the Tribe. As well as my integrity, I bust my a*s for this. The members know that as far as the leadership is concerned, they are not with someone that will let it go to sh*t. The first 100 people in the Tribe, I put them in myself. If it didn’t resonate, we could have very well killed it.
MR: So for the uninitiated, how does one get into the Tribe and what are the benefits of being a member?
ER: It is invitation only. We are in the middle of transitioning off our old site. The new site will be an invite-only, paid membership, in order for us to scale with integrity and maintain the type of people we want to have as a part of the group. Members are required to have at least one passport stamp and be connected to a Tribe member that will vouch for you. This allows us to know that people know how to handle themselves and have a certain decorum. One of the benefits is that you immediately join into a network of likeminded travelers that are represented and live around the world. There is no place you can travel that doesn’t have a Tribe member living there or who has visited there. Out of all the countries in the world, we narrowed it down to maybe ten or less that a Tribe member has not visited. You have this powerful network, support, and safety system of people that you can go to for information not in a guide book. It’s more one to one and personal help with everything from lodging to flights to OMG help for real life stuff.
MR: Can we talk about the Nomadness Conference coming up? What does this mean for you and your progression as an entrepreneur?
ER: I found that there was a lack of integrity within travel groups. I wanted to change that. I never started out to create a black travel group. I still don’t seek that. We have all types of ethnic groups represented within Nomadness. It’s really more of an urban lifestyle and feel, along with a like-mindedness in the way you live day to day and travel, that brings the people, energy, and group together. With that being said, we’re moving and a conference seems to be a really good path to take next. The Conference is an opportunity to extend the brand and let more people know in more innovative ways that we are out there. Like the 2013 RV College Tour, we did across country at HBCUs. The push this year is the Conference with travel, diversity, and creativity – big components that I’ve seen lacking. It will be in NYC.
You have to see it before anyone else sees it, even when it doesn’t make any sense.
MR: How do you feel this Conference will revolutionize the travel scene?
ER: We’re going to be the mouthpiece for an underrepresented demographic when it comes to travel as a whole. The industry still doesn’t get it. They’re starting to get it, but not showing it at a high level. We’re using our resources via social media to level the playing field. We’re not waiting for you to approve of us. You’re going to jump on board or be too late. Either way, the train is leaving the station with or without you.
MR: This concept of the black/ethnic traveler is still new to some, domestic and abroad. How do you feel that perception/conversation is changing?
ER: It’s changing. Social media is being used as an accurate vehicle to show that we are out. We’ve been doing this. Nomadness is more of a home where people can congregate – the average traveler and the travel influencer. We are notorious for running with the bulls in Pamplona or going to India for holi. We may be the only black people there, but we’re there doing it. The conversation shifts within the community when people see us doing it. They can do it with us or on their own.
MR: How do you feel major brands are viewing the urban traveler?
ER: They are waking up. We have had partnerships with Hotels.com and YRB Magazine for a few things. We’re getting out there, but the Conference will break new ground and turn things up a notch from panelists to partnerships.
MR: Other than any proprietary, secret projects that you’re working on, where do you want to see Nomadness in the future? 5yrs? 10yrs? Legacy?
ER: I want natural and organic growth, but still keeping the familial vibe within the group. I want to see celebrity attention and awareness as brand at the forefront. Personally, I would like to finish my book and see a television show in 2015. We just signed up with Issa Rae Productions for the Nomadness Project web series that documents the experiences on our Nomadness trips with members around the world, scheduled to start in spring. With the partnerships we are garnering, the road is endless. The dreams will become true and grow. I have a feeling that the Nomadness Conference is something that people will want yearly. The big things: TV show, web series, seeing what happens as the conference grows and being on our platform.
MR: Wow, that’s definitely dopeness. The universe has been aligning in your favor for some time. Although as an observer, I’d say more of you bending the universe to your will. What would you attribute your success to?
ER: I’ve been working my a*s off. You have to see it before anyone else sees it, even when it doesn’t make any sense. That’s how all of our most innovative things come about. I attribute my success to my team – not just the High Council, but friends, support system, and family. I am one of the lucky few that grew up in a household were people never put boundaries on my creativity or told me my dreams were too big or that any idea was stupid or dumb or that it wasn’t going to happen. Growing up, I never heard that there were boundaries to what I could create. In retrospect as an adult, that shaped me more than anything else.
MR: How did you create the High Council?
The Nomadness High Council members are people that I pinpointed after observing them in the Tribe. All of them, I have different stories and different beginnings with. Some have known me 10+ years. Others didn’t know me before Nomadness started. I saw where I had weaknesses and they had strengths. I observed and sought them out. One day I sent out a chain email: “If you want to be at the forefront of the newest travel movement then meet at this place, at this time.” Nobody said no. Everybody showed up on that date. When they walked in they had no idea who the other members were.
MR: Let’s shift gears a bit. Love life? I’m sure you face equal parts challenge & ease when it comes to this. I’m sure your celebrity has produced some male groupies, but at the same time could be intimidating for some.
ER: I’m actively dating. I got a matchmaker after getting out of a relationship in early 2014. It’s more about where the men are when I met them. I want a serious relationship. When I first started Nomadness I had this 60 second pitch about why I couldn’t be in a relationship. So I ended up dating the ones that would hear the pitch and be like, “so what’s the problem?” It takes a lot. There’s a misconception between reality and perception. I don’t have a harem of men. I’m a lot to deal with and it can be lonely at the top with what I’m creating. Anybody that comes into my life doesn’t have to be aiming for the limelight, but must be comfortable with a lot of eyes being on them because they are with me. That has to take a very secure human being to deal with that. I do my part as the other half to let them know that it is about us. There are many moving parts.
One common misconception is that I don’t have time to date. One of the cool things about being an entrepreneur is you make your own schedule. So I can make time for them and then they become the issue. So what happens is that a lot of guys get involved with me thinking that they can “get by” dating me because they don’t think I can make time for them. When I begin to make time for them then it becomes an issue it, then it’s like “I wasn’t prepared for this.” It’s interesting because it happens a lot, so I’m just keeping my energy open, dating and I’m open to meeting someone anywhere.
MR: I personally know of a few guys that are in awe of you and your fame. Do you feel like fame will ever get in the way?
I don’t mind fame and want it for different reasons. I want it for power and influence because I trust myself with that type of power to keep my integrity in check. I am still a dork about the success. You check yourself and so does your team. I hope I’ll continue to be a dork about it.
Me and relationships – that is my space to unplug, calm down, be submissive, girly, soft and vulnerable – sides of me that people don’t see every day.
MR: What kind of gentleman can find his way to your heart?
ER: If you couldn’t get me to talk about something other than Nomadness on a date, I couldn’t be with you because you aren’t engaging me in a way or enough to get me out of the mental space that I’m in 90% of the day. Me and relationships – that is my space to unplug, calm down, be submissive, girly, soft and vulnerable – sides of me that people don’t see every day. I look forward to when my phone dies – going to the movies or the spa. If you get my undivided attention and you don’t capture it, then I’m not going to be interested in you. I’m gonna disappear. A man has to have a sense of assertiveness with the fact that they are interested. They cannot be coy because I’m an alpha female. Creativity captures my attention. I’m an artist and creative being first. It’s the guts of who I am. He must be intelligent. I’m big into intelligent conversation especially about unorthodox things. I like the laws of attraction and having an understanding and respect for them. I’m looking for someone actively going after their passion, not just talking about. Someone that is successful in their own right and comfortable in their own skin. I’m looking for someone where I can see me in that space as well – as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur. I want it all. I’m a sucker for a power couple. And I want to be 50% of that.
MR: How does being a world traveler impact this?
ER: I always make time for relationships. I can do what I do from anywhere. I make time for things that I love and that includes people.
MR: Have you seen Tribe members dating lives impacted by their love for travel, more so than people who stay put?
ER: I think it’s more of a lifestyle. We have a lot of single people in the Tribe. Couples are coming into the Tribe. We have an ongoing joke about who’s going to have the first Tribe baby. You get people dating, hooking up, becoming friends, breaking up, and becoming enemies. You get it all. It’s all-around with like-minded travelers. I’m cautious of dating within the Tribe, however.
South Africa blew my mind. It is a mix of Brooklyn, New Orleans, Miami, and South Africa all in one.
MR: You have been to all but 5 countries at this point. So, if a guy wants to whisk a woman away to a beautiful locale but not break the bank, where do you recommend?
ER: The biggest thing is be flexible, use Skyscanner to stay within your budget, but be spontaneous. Your flight is the most expensive part. I’m a big Airbnb proponent, in that it gives a more authentic and fulfilling experience. A lot depends on the vibe and if you are an explorer. For romantics, visit the US or British Virgin Islands. Latin and Central America are also good options. If you’re an artsy type, then go to Barcelona and Berlin. Cape Town, South Africa blew my mind. It is a mix of Brooklyn, New Orleans, Miami, and South Africa all in one. That is why I’m going back. I’m literally looking into acquiring property there. It blew my mind.
MR: And for the guys where money is less of a concern?
ER: Europe will break your pockets for sure. I love the Greek Islands – Santorini. The Spanish or Italian Mediterranean, even Portugal are nice. I love Japan because it was my second home.
MR: Best place for single guys looking to hook up?
ER: The usual spots like DR [Dominican Republic] and Brazil. However, I am not the best person to ask because I look for something totally different.
MR: Best place for a single woman to find a new boo?
ER: I found a ton of men in South Africa – a ton of aggressive, assertive men. When it comes to sexual attraction, you can find anyone. For women, you don’t want to be misconstrued for something you are not – a prostitute. Based on where you go this can happen and it has nothing to do with how you dress, but the country’s perception. Thailand is a beautiful place, but is very unforgiving when it comes to sex trafficking and you don’t want [flirtation] to be misconstrued as something else.
MR: Best Vegas/South Beach alternative?
ER: For the best South Beach alternative, Cape Town, with way more diversity and culture or the southern part of Thailand. For a Vegas feel, Dubai is an adult playground.
MR: Best place to recreate your own version of the movie The Hangover?
ER: Brazil – specifically Rio.
MR: Best place for the ladies to recreate the movie Bridesmaids or a bachelorette experience?
ER: Italy or Australia
MR: What is the one place everyone should see before they die if they only have one trip to take?
ER: I have an affinity for world wonders, so Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
MR: What about Nomadness in space? You know Virgin Mobile has that package…
ER: I’m going to need them to go up and come back down successfully first. I wouldn’t take anything off the table, just need it proven that it was safe and reliable to consider. I just got over my fear of flying a couple of years ago – severe flight anxiety. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan and had a couple flights, probably my third flight with 10 or more hours, I got over it.
Thanks Evita – friend, fellow alum and much respected colleague! I’m proud of what you’ve created and to say I’ve been able to watch the growth. The best to you ,and you know you always have my support.