Julia Jones set up Iceland Traveller – a holiday company specialising in trips to Iceland after a career in teaching. Here, she reveals what being an entrepreneur has taught her. The company recently appeared in the Telegraph in an article on foodie travel, and will appear in July’s BBC Good Food magazine.
What inspired you to set up your business?
I first travelled to Iceland as a geography teacher, which soon became an annual event for the school and for me. It didn’t take long for the country and the people to really grow on me. Going to Iceland really does change people, I certainly knew that I was making a real difference for the students and young adults that I took there. The chance to share Iceland with more people by setting up a holiday company seemed to be the obvious next step and my Icelandic friends, who could see how passionate I had become about their country encouraged me to give up my day job!
What makes your you/your business special and where are you based?
Iceland Traveller is based near Esher in Surrey. Our only holiday destination is Iceland so we focus all our attention on knowing the places, people, latest news and events in just one country. We all travel there regularly, try and test out as much as we possibly can, and many of our suppliers are good friends too.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
To put a difficult email into the draft box and reflect before sending it
What has been your greatest challenge?
As the owner–manager of a small business, it’s tough wearing all the hats to start with. As our team has grown I’ve delegated a lot, but gained different hats instead!
How do you switch off?
I love my garden, friends lend me their dogs to walk, and I enjoy cooking.
Where do you go on holiday?
Hmm, I confess that I’ve spent much of the last few years only going to Iceland. However, I’m working up to going to other places and know that there’s something special for me about islands. I love the Scilly Isles and plan to go back there soon, and I have the Azores and Greenland on my list…
What lesson do you wish you had learnt at school?
That it was OK to have a creative and divergent brain!
What app/website/twitter account (other than your own!) would you recommend?
I’m really enjoying Instagram these days, and follow quite a few Icelandic sites but I’m a huge Archers fan and always listen on catch up so its http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qpgr/episodes/player
Where do you see yourself/your company in five years’ time?
Iceland Traveller will be a more prominent name as a specialist holiday company for Icelandic travel. I’m hoping that within 5 years I can have made good progress with sharing and writing about the mass interesting, obscure and highly varied knowledge that I have acquired over the last 17 years travelling all over Iceland, and which is constantly churning around in my head and in notebooks waiting to get out!
You can listen to Julia via Brooklands Radio too: