The Birth of a Groovy Dream
What do you do with a love for people and adventure, the joy of discovery, a vintage VW bus and 30 years of PR, marketing and events coordinating experience? Create a highly unique, laid-back, groovy tour operation!
But first, the backstory: After moving to Sandpoint, Idaho in 2011 (a small resort town of 8,000 just south of the Canadian border), I was faced with a tough job market in a remote location. Even though I hold a B.A. in Journalism and PR, with decades of work experience for both profit and nonprofit companies, I was unable to find gainful, satisfying employment other than part time work. Being that I lived in a resort community, I decided to follow my childhood dream of becoming a Tour Director and tap into the local tourism industry.
With Tour Director Julie McCoy of The Love Boat as my childhood inspiration (seriously!), in 2018 I began my reinvention by earning two important tourism designations - Certified International Tour Manager through the International Guide Academy in Denver, Colorado, and Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Once I had earned the above tour directing designations, I moved ahead with starting my own local tour operation, and interviewed with major tour operators as well, to see which way I ultimately wanted to go.
In regard to my own tour operation, I knew I wanted to offer guests something truly different. After diligent research, writing a business plan and number crunching, I decided to create Feelin’ Groovy Tours as a way for guests to slow down, relax, and truly enjoy a different way of sightseeing, in a vintage vehicle that would be reminiscent of a slower and charming way of life. Starting my own tour operation also allowed me to stay home while my daughter finished high school and still be able to pursue my career goals.
After months of research I located and purchased a beautiful (almost fully restored) 1976 VW bus and worked with an award winning mechanic to finish the bus's restoration. I willingly completed hundreds of hours of grunt work under the wings of my mechanic's direction (and under the bus!) to help speed up the process, and finished in time to start touring late summer of 2019.
Side story: two months after purchasing my VW touring bus I was offered a Tour Director position with a well-known, high-end tour operator on the east coast - one that only hires 25 Tour Directors a year - globally. This fully validated that I was on the right career path, connecting my dots of passion, personality, work and life experience, and skill set. However, since I had just purchased my touring bus and invested in marketing efforts, I wanted to see if I could first make my own business work, which I did, in 2019.
Having envisioned the bus's graphics to look like a vintage postcard, I sketched out my idea and worked with local artists to procure iconic images of the surrounding area and attractions, which also promoted the artists' artwork and livelihood.
My first summer of touring in 2019 was highly enjoyable and rewarding, garnering only 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook, and finished the season with a guest spot on HGTV's Lakefront Bargain Hunter.
2020 brought with it the global pandemic and shut down touring worldwide. During this time I also had to leave a mentally, emotionally and verbally challenging marriage of 22 years and relocated to be with family in Boise, at the opposite end of Idaho. I received nothing from the divorce - no car, no settlement - only my touring bus, a very small retirement account that I cannot touch until I'm 59 1/2, and my self worth. I had to get out. My daughter and I are healing and creating a new life. She is a full time college student majoring in multi-media arts and assists me with social media, marketing and photography. Additionally, I am a two-time breast cancer sur-thriver (2009 and 2013). I undergo yearly testing and have been in remission since 2014. I have two more surgeries this winter to complete the reconstruction process.
As part of my "take back my life" plan, in 2019 I ran a Spartan "Sprint" race, 3 miles and 20 obstacles. In March of this year I completed a Spartan "Super" race - 6 miles and 32 obstacles. The same week I hiked all five Utah National Parks and climbed Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. One day I will do the Spartan "Beast" (15 miles and 30 obstacles), but for now I'm focused solely on getting my tour operation running again, assisting my daughter through her healing and college, and assisting my aging parents.
As of the campaign release date, my parents and I are all recovering from a tough bout of covid, which set me back even further. With only about six weeks left to tour and build up some reserves to tide me over until the spring 2022 touring season, I’m pressing forward as quickly as possible.
I WILL start touring again this fall; however, I am literally starting from scratch, yet I am persevering. It is my desire not to go into debt so I chose to work with I Fund Women because of their track record in assisting women entrepreneurs and the opportunity to work with a coach. I feel confident my crowdfunding campaign, with IFW's coaching, will help me to reach my goal of $27,500 to help me restart tours in my new location, and help defer operating costs for my first year back in business.
I welcome you to spend a few minutes on my Feelin' Groovy Tours Facebook page to get a feel for our vibe and what I am bringing to beautiful Boise. Your help is GREATLY appreciated and I hope to make you and your investment proud. Big hugs and much love to each of you!