This month on the Her-Story Spotlight, we are featuring Oluwakemi “Kemi” Oshimokun. Kemi is the owner of Khonsu Travel, a full-service travel agency and tour company. This 22-year-old, Chicago native went head first into the travel world and never looked back. She started her business when she was 19 years old and decided to use social media to build her business and form relationships rather than catching up on the latest gossip. This young lady is a go getter in her field and her main focus is to allow people the option to affordably travel abroad without breaking the bank. She offers reasonable payment plans for group trips to locations such as Ghana, Cuba, and Benin, just to name a few. If you are not looking to travel abroad just yet, Kemi can also help you find the most affordable rates for local trips across the country for you and the family. Keep reading to find out more about Kemi’s journey to beginning Khonsu Travel.
Where did the name Khonsu Travel come from?
When I was thinking of the name of my business, I had just come back from studying abroad and I went to Egypt while I was there. Khonsu means the Egyptian God of travel. The Khonsu guided night travelers on their journeys. I liked the concept and decided to name my business Khonsu travel.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I became an entrepreneur by accident! I studied biology with a minor in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in college. I wanted to work in global public health and tackle the many issues underserved communities around the world experienced. But studying abroad in Morocco changed my perspective forever. Living in Morocco was such a liberating and eye-opening experience that it altered my outlook on life. In particular, one night changed what I wanted to do with my life and career. While traveling with my new friends I made in Morocco, we took a long walk one night that landed us in a new area in the city we were living in. Somehow, we got on the conservation of what we will do when we go back home. My friend, Paloma, said she would love to get paid to travel the world and photograph her experience. We all nodded our heads in agreement and talked about how amazing it will be to have a career in travel. We all laughed at the end and walked back to our college campus.
That conversation resonated with me throughout my duration abroad and when I came back to Chicago, but I was unsure on how I was going to have a career in travel. So, I put it in the back of the mind. One day while scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post regarding becoming a travel agent and I was in disbelief that travel agents even existed with websites like Expedia, Hotwire, and such, but I wanted to learn more about how I can start a career in travel.
The following Monday, I took a one hour bus ride to an information meeting. I was so shocked to see all the African Americans who travel agents were making great profits in the industry and helping others travel more. I loved the energy in the room and I felt this was something I had to do. I encountered many people after I studied abroad who wanted to travel more, but fear, lack of funds, and misconceptions held them back from experiencing the beauty of life. By becoming a travel agent, I could take them by the hand and help them from being skeptical and nervous to becoming confident and having the experience of a lifetime. That night I started my travel business, Khonsu Travel. Six months ago, I launched Khonsu Tours and we will be taking our first group trip to Ghana in October 2017.
What piece of advice would you have given yourself prior to starting your business?
If I could tell my 19-year-old self anything, I would say a couple of things:
- Do not wait for your friends and family to support your business.
The gold mine is in the strangers who will not have any issue working with you. One of the first frustrations I encountered in my business was that many of my friends and family did not book their vacations with me. This disappointment paralyzed me for almost a year. My mentors told me that strangers will happily support my business, but I didn’t listen to them. I wish I would have listen to them. I would have made a lot of money that year.
- Do not be afraid of your greatness.
I am type of person that embraces my ADHD because it works in my favor as an entrepreneur (sometimes lol). There are times where I am super focused on a task and I can finish it through. But there are times that I cannot and my mind races with brilliant ideas that I can use to enhance my business. I use to be scared of the ideas I had because I felt like they could not come true and doubted myself. For example, I’ve had the idea of starting a tour company for over a year, but I was afraid it would fail. One day, I took a leap of faith to start my tour company and we sold out our first tour!
- Surround yourself with eagles and not crabs.
When I first started my business, I surrounded myself with a lot crabs who told me my business would not work and I should quit. Crabs like to bring people to their level. I was not born to a crab. I am an eagle! I started to surround myself with people in my business who making money and I became a sponge. I wanted to know everything they knew and how they worked their business. They pushed me to be creative and ambitious. Eagles soar with other eagles while crabs hold each other back in the bucket.
How has your faith attributed to your journey as an entrepreneur?
My faith kept me in business this long. It was times I wanted to quit because no one booked trips with me and I was not making any money. Also, I had crabs in my ear who told me that I should quit. It came to a point where I had to look at myself and see how I was contributing to my lack of success. Once I look at myself in the mirror and realized it was me that was holding my business back, my mindset changed. I increased my belief in what my business can produce, I sought out help, and I became creative in my marketing strategy. Also, I started practicing the Law of Attraction and being more grateful with what I had. I’ve been doing that ever since and my business has been overflowing with new clients, great partnerships, and many vacations booked.
Speaking with Kemi was truly inspiring to hear so much ambition and drive come from someone so young. I learned so much from her in the few conversations that we’ve had and she has inspired me in so many ways. Although she has pursued a career in travel, Kemi has decided to travel less and save more as she prepares to purchase realestate. She calls this current time her “building season.” Kemi makes travel look easy and so accessible for everyone. If you’re looking for some assistance on your next weekend getaway or want to take a tour outside of the border, contact Kemi for all your traveling needs.