We had the good fortune of connecting with Linden Schaffer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Linden, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
There was little thought process 11-years ago when I started Pravassa. I was working in NYC’s fashion industry, a career that I had wanted from the time I was young. I was burnt out. It was the 2008 recession and the industry was changing. In spring of 2009 after more than a decade working in fashion I started to think about what I would do next. I came up with an outline of a concept, a travel company that focused on health and well-being while traveling and pitched it to a friend who set up a meeting for me. I was hired in that meeting to plan a trip. I put the breaks on the idea long enough to come up with a company name, get things in order with an accountant, and build a basic website. I went back to my day job while operating Pravassa at night. Very quickly it became clear that I could not do both. In November 2009 I officially left my fashion career behind in order to become the CEO of the first Wellness Travel Tour Operator in the U.S.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
As a child, I always wanted the toy or fashion item that didn’t yet exist. So as an adult it was no surprise that I helped to pioneer a new travel sector; wellness travel. Building a business is never an easy feat. But doing so with no previous entrepreneur or travel industry experience and creating a sector that no one has ever heard of is damn hard. I had to prove myself and build credibility every step of the way, both within the travel industry and within the community of people who wanted to travel to improve their well-being, expand their mind, and connect with their inner wisdom. The lessons you learn are endless. You never want to be the smartest person in the room, but you do want to be the most passionate. People do not read what you send them, so always follow up with a phone call and set aside time to go through contracts and other important materials together. Like renovating a house, running a business always takes more time and more money than you can plan for, so try and always have an emergency fund. Fear is a great motivator. Always have a part of you that you do not give over to your business, you need something separate and apart from it that you can return to to fill you up when you need it. Flexibility is the key to a long business life. Pravassa’s mission has always been to transform the way we move in and experience the world. Prior to the pandemic our mission was fulfilled by taking people outside the U.S. in order to immerse them into different cultures so they could learn from others and build compassion. When COVID hit, our mission stayed the same, but the focus on how to accomplish our mission changed. Instead of looking to the outside world for healing, we turned inward. Having experienced health and well-being techniques in their native settings, we wanted to bring that concept into the home where healing was accessible to anyone who was interested. The Wander Home Series, our new digital retreat experience, was born out of the need to create a personal healing toolbox that we could access in the most trying times from anywhere.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This answer is very different pre and during the pandemic. But I moved to LA three years ago for the lifestyle. So no matter when someone was visiting, we would hit the outdoors highlights. A sunset walk on the beach in Malibu makes your heart sing. An outdoor picnic on the lawn of The Getty Center surrounded by the gardens is very calming. A sunrise hike at Temescal Canyon on a clear day offers views of snowcapped mountains to the East and the Catalina on the West, sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. For an adventure further afield hiking among the famous Joshua Tree’s in the national park or seeing Field of Light in Paso Robles is a special SoCal activity. When indoor activities were possible an afternoon tour of Paramount Studios followed by cocktails at Chateau Marmont and later a speakeasy recalled the glamour of old Hollywood. Sunday mornings in Venice starting with a yoga or meditation class followed by brunch at Cafe Gratitude were in keeping with the famous beach lifestyle, here the afternoon would end watching the skaters in the skatepark at the beach. I can’t wait until these days are possible again! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my husband and my parents. They all encouraged me to do what at the time felt wholly irresponsible: quit my well paying full-time job to take a chance as a first time solopreneur. Being an entrepreneur takes a village. Relying on the business coaches, outside experts, interns, women’s groups, and those who worked along side me for years all deserve credit.
India hands image: Sheri Giblin for Pravassa Sri Lanka images: Christian Hutter for Pravassa Thailand image: Renee Choi for Pravassa