Deidre Mathis has created history again in Houston, five years after launching the first Black-owned hostel in the United States. This time, she has opened Wanderstay Boutique Hotel, the first adults-only themed boutique hotel.
According to Click2Houston.com, the hotel has ten attractively themed rooms, including the Black and White Art Museum, Desert Vibes, Safari Escape, and Houston Sports Teams. Mathis built Wanderstay Boutique Hotel in response to the popularity of the hostel she opened in 2018, which has now welcomed over 15,000 guests from 31 countries, according to her website.
Mathis is a big solo traveler and it was her experience traveling around the world that motivated her to go into the hospitality industry. “I met these fabulous women and we formed this amazing bond and continued to travel together for a year and a half, doing nothing but staying in hostels,” she told Forbes.
However, after relocating to Houston, she saw there was a market for hostels and did not hesitate to explore it. The success of the hostel company piqued her interest. According to her, nearly 400 hostels in the United States earned a total of $17 million in 2016.
“It’s a profitable industry,” she said. “But that’s not why I’m getting into it. I’m getting into it because I have a passion for traveling and for putting people together. So the money’s just a bonus.”
Mathis sought numerous sources of finance, including a small business loan, to launch her hostel, Wanderstay Hostel. In just 31 days, she raised $5,000 through an Indiegogo campaign.Mathis stated after opening her hostel that she was proud that she had realized her dream two years after it was conceived.
Mathis’ skin pigmentation made it difficult for him to open the hostel at the age of 32. According to IBISWorld, the hotel/motel industry in the United States will be worth $258 billion in 2022, with 132,228 establishments. However, according to the National Association of Black Hotel Owner Operators and Developers, less than 2% of these hotel owners are Black. Black women make up less than 1% of the population.
“Starting the business. Getting lending, getting money. Being a woman of color, we all know that we’re the least funded sector, so it’s really hard to get funding,” hotelier and author Mathis told Sass Magazine. “Being a small business owner without a family of entrepreneurs or people I could call and say: hey how do I do x-y-z. I’m learning every single day.”
Mathis is the author of a budget travel book, Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional, which she wrote after taking a post-graduation gap year, she told Forbes.