This past June, I boarded a plane to summer camp in Bali. For the record, sleep away summer camp is still just as much fun as it was as a kid.
More formally, it was a Bali blogging retreat led by Kiersten Rich, known across social media platforms as The Blonde Abroad.
(We were actually on the same flights from LA -> Sydney -> Bali, so it was fun to get to know one another between tea and showers in the Sydney airport lounge and swipe some face cream samples in the duty-free shops 😛 )
The Blonde Abroad
The Blonde Abroad is a well-established travel blog featuring Kiersten Rich’s solo and non-solo travels, vectoring around the world. What started out as a backpacker’s diary and budget travel, has since evolved into a largely luxury travel blog for millennials with disposable income – or for anyone who likes to live vicariously from the scrolling comfort of their beds (yes, please).
Between trips to Bali and Malta, Cuba and Disneyland, Kiersten’s current home base is in Cape Town, South Africa. She looks like a character from Sweet Valley High, with impossibly straight, yellow blond hair. For those who know the books, she inherited the best traits from both Jessica and Elizabeth.
The comparison ends there, as her personality is not dramatic or sensational in the least. Kiersten is down to earth, easy to get along with, and a great teacher. She is also clearly committed to building up other women and helping them slay (á là Beyoncé, #slayonslayer).
Kiersten (a.k.a. Kiki) Rich
Kiersten does not refer to herself out loud as an “influencer,” although she certainly fits the bill, with close to half a million Instagram followers, established audiences across other social media platforms (Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, & Facebook), and a team of employees who help with all things Blonde Abroad. She was also recently named #2 of the 2017 Top Ten Travel Influencers by Forbes.
The retreat content she led was exceptional, and she defied expectations by transparently sharing her business story, tactics, and strategy. She was genuinely committed to providing a high-quality experience, and actively sought feedback to meet the varied expectations of everyone in the group.
It was like summer camp for the jet set – 12 adventurous babes, an empowering mentor, a magical setting, and we learned a ton!
Our group included twelve 21-35-year-old badass gals (attendees and staff alike were mostly twenty-somethings).
This dazzling dozen ranged from girls who had already launched and moved on from a successful venture, to individuals navigating the murky waters of post-college or post-grad school life, to ladies in transition between jobs, to brave young souls opting to travel the world on $35 per day (retreats and side trips excluded…?) instead of pursuing the traditional college route.
All of us travelled a distance to attend, with home bases everywhere from California to Toronto, Denver to Amsterdam, Florida to Turkey. Each girl was from a different sector (i.e. fashion, education, sports & entertainment, journalism, marketing). This diversity of backgrounds enriched classroom discussions and casual conversations – everyone had a unique story to tell.
It was soul-lifting and empowering to be surrounded by a community of ambitious and talented ladies. We all are crazy and brave enough to fly halfway around the world to jumpstart a passion project, a business, a brand.
After the Retreat
Months later, I am still in contact with the girls and we reach out to one another for support, questions, shared successes, and encouragement. One girl quit her job to pursue blogging full time, one landed her first press trip, and more!
I continue to find massive value in building a community of fearless femmes and gorgeous go-getters who are equally comfortable discussing HTML shortcode as they are the very real vulnerabilities of imposter syndrome.
The July session in Bali had 17 attendees – and Kiersten has a South Africa Photography Escape lined up for this November, which I will be attending as well! While each trip will surely have its own unique dynamic, participants are selected to contribute to a positive, soul-fueling adventure.
The retreat upheld the expectations of summer camp. Fast friendships. Time on fast forward. Transforming, empowering, life changing, and highly instagrammable.
Follow @hautescout on Instagram for past and future photos from the retreat!
*Pro-Tip:* Look up #tbaretreats on Instagram for pics from all the girls.