Meet world traveler and hostel owner Deidre Mathis
Photo courtesy of Deidre Mathis
At only 32 years old, Deidre Mathis operates the first African American-owned hostel in the United States.
An avid traveler and a risk-taker, Mathis has traveled to almost every continent, authored one book and is working on a second while running her brand-new Wanderstay hostel in the heart of Houston, Texas.
For those unfamiliar with hostels, they provide budget-friendly, accommodations where guests can rent a bed — usually a bunk bed — in a dormitory-style room and share a bathroom and most times a kitchen. People who travel frequently and pack light will oftentimes opt for a hostel experience to save money.
Bitten by the travel bug as a sophomore in college, Mathis has traveled to more than 15 countries including Antarctica. “Traveling for me wasn’t about taking a vacation. For me, it was mental stimulation being in a place where I didn’t speak the language, being in a place where people didn’t look like me. I’m a risk-taker so being in that type of environment is what helped me thrive.”
Mathis recently spoke with rolling out about her road to owning and opening a hostel and her love of travel.
As a Black woman, what do you consider your superpower to be?
Resiliency. Being able to tackle different things that come my way on a daily basis and still thriving and surviving and not letting it break me down as a person, as a business owner as a woman.
What key skillsets or qualities makes you unique as an African American female leader?
I’m very persistent. I’m a person who doesn’t accept the word no. I just look at no as an opportunity to get better or stronger for the next time and for the next guest. Also, being able to adjust and to multitask. Initially, I thought multitasking was something we were all equipped with, but it’s not. I tend to find that we women of color are often good at multitasking, so I’m able to be in a relationship, be in school, run a business and do all of that stuff because I have those skills from my childhood.
Why is it important for women of color to lead and work in leadership roles with decision-making capacities?
That’s the only way we’re going to start generational wealth or generational job security or anything generational. We have to own it, we have to be the leaders, we have to be in control. It’s important that we put ourselves in positions where no one can fire us or no one has the say so or the authority to put us out.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business collaborations?
I have seen that quote, and I loved it. I was at a conference about two years ago, and the presenter was saying that we’ve all heard of the “crabs in a barrel” mentality that some people of color have, and if you have two people in business and they have very similar ideas, other people would merge those ideas together to have one big business.
I think the collaboration over competition is great because we need to put our skills together, and we need to start building. So, no more doing things separate. If you find someone with a skillset in the same industry as you, I say absolutely build together. You’re going to do it faster, it’s going to take a load off of you because you aren’t doing all of the work by yourself, and it will help you reach your goals quicker.
Are you a risk-taker?
My entire life! One of my favorite quotes is “with great risk comes great reward.” That is just a true testament to my life, so everything I do is a risk. I feel if you live life comfortably, life is no fun, it’s not exciting [and] you never know what could have or would have happened. Living on the edge, living a risky life is what works really well for me, and I encourage people to step out as often as they can. Taking risks pushes you as an individual, it forces you to grow, it forces you to look at the problems face-on and then, like I said, with great risk comes great reward.
To learn more about the Wanderstay Hostel, please visit their website, www.wanderstayhotels.com