Houston has always been known for its "can-do spirit." It is Houstonians like Deidre Mathis that help our city gain that awesome rep.
Deidre has a true entrepreneurial spirit and pursued her dream through hard work and determination.
When she saw the need in Houston for inclusive accommodations for the budget-conscious traveler, she began educating herself to become an expert within the travel and hospitality industry. In 2018, Deidre made history when Forbes recognized her as the first African American woman in the United States to open a hostel.
After the immediate success of her first Wanderstay location, she is now making plans for her second location to open in the fall of 2020.
Deidre is constantly breaking barriers both for herself and for minority and women-owned businesses. Her drive for success has led her to compete and win in multiple small business competitions, including the highly competitive Tory Burch Fellowship. Her most recent pitch competition took her to New York to win Mastercard's $25,000 "Grow Your Biz" pitch competition.
We posed a few questions to Deidre to learn more about why she thinks everyone should visit Houston and how winning the 2019 Startup Superstar Award will help further her professional goals.
As an emerging leader in the hospitality industry, what do you see as the state of Houston as a destination?
Houston is a great city with tons of options for tourists. We have amazing restaurants, green space, and lots of hidden gems that other cities don't offer. We get a lot of guests who visit Houston to see the Space Center, Galveston Island and to visit our Museum District.
What do you think Houston offers your clientele, hostel guests, that other cities do not?
We get tons of guests who come to Houston for concerts, plays, university visits, job interviews, and to explore our huge restaurant scene.
Who has inspired you most in your life and why?
I draw inspiration from a few different people in life. Folks like Oprah, Michelle Obama and then local folks who have been successfully running their small businesses for years are people that I draw inspiration from.
How has working in Houston set you up for success?
I moved to Houston in 2014 and this city has supported me since day one! I was 1st place winner of Houston's business plan competition (LIFTOFF HOUSTON) where I received $10,000 to help me fund my company, I also won 3rd place and $4,000 in the HCC business plan competition and $5,000 at the Houston Area Urban League competition as well. This city has shown me so much support!
How do you approach leadership?
By showing instead of telling.
What’s your next move professionally? What’s ahead for someone looking to grow as a hospitality trailblazer?
I am hoping to have our 2nd location open within the next 12 months.
How do you hope to use this win to help further your professional goals?
I hope to gain more connections and build more relationships with folks in the travel/tourism industry in Houston. I am always looking for more partnerships!
What are your top 3 favorite places or experiences in Houston?