Romina Tello Soberanes is the visionary hospitality innovator behind responsible lifestyle and travel guide Mauritius Conscious.
This post continues our series of profiles on entrepreneurs and change-makers across the Indian Ocean and beyond. We have previously featured freelancer Florence Bache, blogger Sarah Zendrini and social entrepreneur Karuna Rana.
Tell us about Mauritius Conscious: what is it, and who are you working with?
Mauritius Conscious is an online guide that promotes a more sustainable lifestyle and travel in Mauritius, for both locals and travellers. Throughout our website, blog and events, we spread awareness of the available opportunities to enjoy Mauritius mindfully, in ways that preserve our natural and cultural environment as well as the local economy.
To make our website happen, we work with two local startups: MoDigiBiz in e-marketing and CodeVigor in web-development. A team with the ambitious dream of launching a project that goes further in terms of helpfulness, reach and design... and here we are!
"There's no time to be a pessimist"
What's your vision for the site?
We aim for a long-lasting, greener world, starting with Mauritius. There’s no time to be a pessimist.
Our vision is to drive real change in our island. We are not the first ones, nor the strongest, but hopefully we’re uniting forces and creating more awareness and demand for conscious alternatives, so that the public and private sectors take change into their hands too.
Who is Mauritius Conscious aimed at?
It's for all people visiting or living in Mauritius, but our main targets are Millennials: the generation of increasing travellers looking for genuine experiences in a more conscious way, environmentally, culturally and economically speaking. We believe they are important drivers of change.
When did you begin working towards your vision? What made you start?
We started shaping Mauritius Conscious seven months ago in September 2015. When my partner Gerald and I relocated to his island, the opportunities for improvement in terms of tourism and environmental conservation filled our eyes. With dozens of “tourist guides” telling people what to buy rather than what to experience, and sensible landscapes being exploited in the name of profit, we knew someone needed to do things differently.
After a little while we realised that there are more conscious activists around than any tourist would have guessed – only that there is nowhere for them to find them. As for locals, there’s even less education (and regulation) on how to take care of the island and their own health.
What are the biggest challenges that you have faced?
Challenges have become like our flat-mates, they’re in our lives whether we like them or not! Working full-time on Mauritius Conscious represents betting everything on our passion and potential, without getting anything granted (achievements or finances). It meant giving-up on commodities, securities, and a foreseeable what-to-feed-our-cat-tomorrow. Every day it becomes a little harder to strive, but also a little more motivating, as we start seeing little achievements, people joining us, travellers loving our work.
Who or what has been your inspiration? Do you have any role models?
The notion of better practices around the world (in particular in Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland) and the urge to save the planet are encouraging enough. We also take amazing doses of inspiration from TEDx talks almost every day!
What does your typical day look like? Do you have any habits or routines which have helped you?
Yes, you definitely need some discipline to work for yourself, so we stepped into a quite healthy routine to earn self-determination. For example we learned to make a lot out of our mornings, so we normally wake up at 6am. We will either do yoga, go for a jog on the beach or clean the house, anything which leaves us with an energised feeling of "being ready" for the day. We then enjoy breakfast in the terrace and by 9am are ready to start, in front of our laptops.
"It's important to balance laptop and exploration time"
Our working time may extend until around 6pm, after which we always reward ourselves with a treat (an episode of Breaking Bad and popcorn topping our list). We normally have people over at home from our Airbnb room, so this is when we clear our minds and interact with them. Of course, by 10pm we are far away asleep, like grandpas.
Where do you usually work?
We work mostly from home. Near to the fridge and the hammock. But everything is born outside, when riding buses, making way through people in markets and exploring new beaches. It’s important to balance laptop and exploration time.
Which tools, gadgets or applications do you use to help you in your work, if any?
Since our team works remotely, Basecamp has helped us manage our project pretty comprehensively. For designing social media posts, fact sheets or any sort of image needing a cool look, Canva is a brilliant platform to lay down our own ideas in a more artistic way. Fiverr has also saved us from emergencies when we need a quick service related to media (design or videos) for a small fee.
How do you spend your down-time, when you’re not working on your project?
We try to go on a new excursion every weekend. Whether that's a hike in the mountains, snorkel on a new beach or a bus ride to the east, we love discovering all the corners of this island. During weekdays we enjoy sunsets on the beach, a book and a good yoga session.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Work on networking if you want doors opening. Start earlier. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas.
What's next for you?
We just pre-launched our website, so we’ve entered the phase of subscribing conscious businesses: the actual facilitators of best practices in Mauritius. In times like this when more businesses are turning eco-conscious, we need to pay special attention to tell the difference between real believers and the "green-wash".
We also look forward to teaming-up with related NGOs to help spread their message and get hands-on community events.
We take it one day at a time.
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