LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- While Tamaya Walker McClendon sits at her computer, she continually finds her purpose not just for herself, but for many females who ever dreamed of getting on a plane and traveling around the world.
“Seems to me the initial goal for you was to reach young girls but that changed,” says Fox16 anchor Donna Terrell.
“I just thought, ‘How is it I would be able to get a mother to trust me with their daughter in another country if they had fears based around that travel,” says Walker McClendon.
So with that in mind, three years ago, the Little Rock native, who was traveling in Italy, created “Sisters and Suitcases”.
From the pages of her home computer, it came to life, encouraging primarily women of color to travel abroad.
“If we can just inspire women to step out of their backyard,” says Walker McClendon.
So far, she’s taken women to about seven different locations including Paris, parts of Italy, Africa and most recently, Egypt. Its experiences she calls transformational.
“I think because you begin to look outside of those things that you typically look at,” says Walker McClendon. “So the material things fall by the wayside. You start looking deeper within yourself.”
Which is exactly what international travels did for Tamaya. She left a 12-year career in education to do this. Family and friends couldn’t understand.
“You’re going to leave a job with benefits to do this?” Walker McClendon recalls others asking her. “Yeah, because this has been one of my greatest rewards ever.”
A reward that has a life of its own. Social media is her marketing tool, with nearly 20,000 followers and counting on Instagram.
“Where do you get all those pictures?” Terrell asks.
“Some of the pictures are from our experiences,” Walker McClendon answers. “We post during the time we’re in the experiences and the other images are other travelers, women that are traveling around the world because that’s another way to inspire women.”
She also works to empower the women in the countries they visit.
“That’s part of the sustainable part of traveling that’s important to me is making sure that the money stays in the country,” says Walker McClendon. “And another way to empower women is that our money goes back to women business owners.”
But the dream doesn’t stop here. One day, she hopes to reach those young girls she initially targeted. Getting to that point is just another part of the journey.
To learn more about Sisters and Suitcases, click here.