Spiffy's Interview: Using Inclusive Travel to Impact the World – Starting with the Caribbean
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse stories with the mission to inspire kids and youth around the world to become entrepreneurs with empathy. This series features interviews of LGBT founders by a character named Spiffy to help young readers observe Pride Month with a renewed commitment to building a more equitable world for all.
Hi there! My name is Spiffy and I’m an interplanetary journalist. I’m interviewing social entrepreneurs for Pride month on Planet Earth. Today I chatted with Donnya Piggott, the fearless leader of Pink Coconuts. Check it out:
SPIFFY: Hi Donnya, thank you for having me. Could you tell me about what Pink Coconuts does for context?
Donnya: Welcome, Spiffy! Pink Coconuts is a booking platform that hopes to change the way we travel by channeling and connecting travelers to the local community and founded on the basis of LGBTQ inclusion.
SPIFFY: That’s beautiful, I’ve traveled across the galaxy and you never know how you’ll be received. How do you bring your values into the travel industry?
Donnya: Economic equality, inclusion, and LGBTQ inclusion are the pillars upon which Pink Coconuts are founded. We recognize that economic inequality lies at the crux of many social issues including LGBTQ issues and if we manage to weave in business in a way that is inclusive - we have the power to change lives and societies. We want people to feel comfortable and welcomed when traveling to new destinations and support and improve the lives of local LGBTQ communities.
SPIFFY: Was there an ‘Aha!’ moment for you that inspired you to do Pink Coconuts?
Donnya: One stands out. In 2018 I left Barbados for Colorado in the U.S. with a high expectation that I was about to enter an extremely racist space. I almost didn't take the opportunity to go because of my perception of the place. Colorado ended up changing my life and I felt incredibly welcomed and at home. It then made me think of how the perception of a particular space or country can cause people not to explore or to avoid it. Once people are connected to communities that welcome them, people can travel and explore travel and explore the world freely.
SPIFFY: How do you ensure these travel experiences will result in a more equitable world?
Donnya: We believe in empowering local communities in the travel product, far too long travel and tourism has been separated from the local people, we want that Pink Coconuts is able to be beneficial to local communities and to improve their lives. At the same time, we want to be able to provide safe and friendly vacations and activities across the world for people to explore.
SPIFFY: I know travel is difficult on Planet Earth right now. How have you adapted to this?
Donnya: Adapting has been key. We recently did an online check-in and tour with various LGBTQ communities across the world. Showing them the beautiful surroundings of the Caribbean islands while engaging in ways to maintain good mental health in the face of COVID by taking walks and immersing in nature.
SPIFFY: I could use a virtual walk in nature, what a great idea! :) How have you overcome failures or roadblocks?
Donnya: At 22 years old I was homeless and I lived in my car as a young black lesbian. While I was homeless, I was searching for a community to find solace. After not finding the community I needed - I founded BGLAD an LGBTQ organization that advocated for equal treatment of LGBTQ people and highlighted the issues that myself and the LGBTQ community face.
SPIFFY: Finally, what is something unexpected that you learned recently?
Donnya: I learned the importance of rest recently. I think we often get caught up with being busy (including me) and as simple as it sounds - I learned how important it is to rest. Thanks for the conversation, Spiffy. We’ll have to talk more about inclusion and travel soon.
SPIFFY: You bet, Donnya! I’m sure you have some great stories.
Donnya is the CEO and Founder of Pink Coconuts - a platform that connects LGBTQ travelers with LGBTQ friendly accommodation, tours, and activities across the world. She was given the prestigious Queen's Young Leader Award by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for her work as an LGBTQ Advocate and the co-founder of B-GLAD. She has spoken at TEDx Bridgetown, UK Black Pride, One Young World, Human Rights Campaign, The Economist & International Gay and Lesbian Association Conference.
© 2020 Ladderworks LLC. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at www.ladderworks.co/blogs/spiffys-blog
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.