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In 2018, Deidre Mathis, made history as the first Black woman in the United States to own a hostel. With a passion for people and travel, Mathis combined two of her great loves when she opened the WanderStay Hostel in Houston, Texas.
But it wasn't easy.
"Financing was probably the toughest thing I've had to endure especially as an entrepreneur with a brick and mortar store," said Mathis.
But despite the financing obstacles and being in a 99.9 percent white, male dominated industry, Mathis built a strong network of supporters in Houston's Third Ward community, where she grew up.
"We are the gateway to exposing people to our community who in turn patronize our local restaurants and bars that feed a lot of dollars into the community," said Mathis.
The pandemic happened right when WanderStay was starting to grow and Mathis lost 45-60 percent of her business. But she was one of the few to secure a six-figure SBA loan as a startup company.
Mathis was also the recipient of the NAACP-BeyGOOD Small Business Grant. The grant was created by singer Beyonce's foundation, BeyGOOD, in partnership with the NAACP to support struggling Black small business owners impacted by the 2020 pandemic and recent nationwide unrest.
The BeyGOOD grant allowed Mathis to pay her employees and to stay open during the pandemic. The funding also allowed her to open a second location. And now that the world is opening and folks have gotten the vaccine, Mathis hopes business will pick up since people have started traveling again.
"We accommodate people from all over the world that have opportunities to meet other people and forge relationships to do other things outside of WanderStay doors," said Mathis. "They travel together, volunteer together or whatever else it is, it all starts with us at WanderStay."