Girls run the world, and now they’re producing the luggage to go with it. Travel Noire had the opportunity to sit with the women of WNDR LN. The Black-owned brand is breaking barriers in the travel industry with its new line of travel accessories now available at Target.
The founder, Tina Wells, is a world traveler and business strategist. The brand ambassador, Evita Robinson, founded the Nomadness Travel Tribe. Together, they plan to “carry on” new standards of style and inclusion within the travel accessories industry.
TN: What inspired you to start the WNDR LN brand, and what unique qualities or innovations does it bring to the market as a Black-owned brand?
Tina Wells: Before I even thought about luggage and travel accessories, I thought more broadly about the shopping experience in general and what was missing. I’ve been very lucky to work with Target since 2020, bringing my book series and a home office line to life in the store. What I wanted to do with my products beyond books was merge content, commerce, and community in a unique way.
When I was presented with the opportunity to create something new in luggage and travel accessories for Target guests, it was immediately clear that the brand needed to bring together all of these things and, above all, be inclusive.
Next, I went back to my days in marketing and started thinking through brand positioning. Where was the biggest opportunity? What was missing? For me, it was a fashionable piece to travel with. I wanted to create pieces that would equip and inspire you to travel.
TN: How does WNDR LN, a Black-owned brand, promote diversity and inclusivity within the travel and fashion industries?
TW: First and foremost, I wanted to create a brand for people who look like me. Black women, in particular, are out here living! We’re traveling and having incredible adventures, and yet I feel we’re not as present in advertising and travel media.
I fly over 100,000 miles yearly and love engaging in conversations wherever I go. I see women who look like me traveling and having these experiences, but we’re not included in the bigger narrative. That’s why I knew I needed to partner with Evita Robinson. I wanted to elevate her story and the work she’s been doing for over a decade to make travel more inclusive. And through our other partnerships, we’ll support even more influencers as they tell their unique travel stories.
Above all, though, we’re fortunate to partner exclusively with Target to tell the story of diversity and inclusivity in travel. It’s a privilege to serve Target guests and offer them affordable and well-designed pieces for their adventures. I hope seeing WNDR LN in stores will also show them our stories are important.
TN: Evita, how did you become a brand ambassador for WNDR LN, and what motivated you to represent their products?
Evita Robinson: Tina and I had worked together on her book, ‘The Elevation Approach,’ which kicked off our relationship. One day, she spoke to me about this new luggage line she wanted to produce and the idea of having me come on as the forward-facing ambassador of it. I looked at the product specs and design elements and fell in love. I had never seen anything like that in Target before. Even if I weren’t involved with WNDR LN, I would still walk into Target and buy the entire line. That’s how much I believe in the products and design.
TN: Could you tell us more about the unique qualities and features of WNDR LN that resonate with your values and style as an ambassador?
ER: People know me as the Founder of NOMADNESS Travel Tribe, but I’m a creative first. I can’t help but inject style into everything I do. I see my luggage as an extension of my personality.
The Weekender is my favorite piece in the collection. The shoe compartment at the bottom is a game-changer for me. Sometimes I use that compartment to store my larger, heavier items, like books and journals. They are usually so thick they eat space up in the main compartment. Not here. All my clothes and electronics still have room to breathe at the top.
TN: Tina, we all know how difficult it must have been to start WNDR LN. Especially, as a Black-owned business within an industry that is oversaturated. Can you share some insights into the challenges and successes you’ve experienced as a Black entrepreneur in the luggage industry?
TW: Oh my goodness, how much time do you have?! Let’s say it was a wild ride, and the third time was the charm. So many days, I thought I would not land this collection, the pricing, the assortment. Finally, I connected with the brilliant team at W.E.Conoor, who listened to and supported my vision. Finally, they heard me. They didn’t pitch me what they thought was best. They took my direction and brought me the best quality we could get while keeping the product affordable. I had no clue what a buying agent was or how important the role is in bringing a big brand to life at retail.
We’re already working on our collection for next fall, and it’s been such a joyful experience. But the reality is, I had two false starts, and they weren’t pleasant experiences at all. I’m being transparent because there might be someone reading who feels like they’re at the end, and if I can give you any advice, it’s just to hold on. You have no idea what could be right around the corner.
TN: Evita, in what ways do you believe the luggage industry can better promote diversity and inclusivity, and how does this brand contribute to that vision?
ER: This is where I have to give a nod to Target. As a consumer and associate to a few founders with products in Target, I have seen the push for various products and industries spotlighting Black, women-owned businesses. They’ve created a blueprint of sorts. It’s not complicated. It just takes a commitment to invest their shelf space, funding, and marketing efforts to diversity.
TN: How important is it for you to work with Black-owned businesses, and what impact do you hope to make by representing WNDR LN?
ER: I have this saying, ‘I want to work with brands and destinations that have DEI as a part of their DNA,’ I’m disinterested in being a check in someone’s diversity box. I’m most interested in longer-term relationships that speak to the core of my community and my values for fellow BIPOC travelers. If it isn’t an extension of the tribe I’ve created, the stories I profile, or the community I serve, I probably won’t attach my likeness to it. If I don’t believe it, I definitely won’t. I have to believe in whatever I’m willing to help sell.
TN: Tina, we know you recently got this brand off the ground. However, could you provide a glimpse into the future of WNDR LN? Are there any exciting developments, collaborations, or new products on the horizon that your customers can look forward to?
The last few weeks have felt like an early Christmas for me! I’ve gotten my first samples of some amazing new products coming soon. We’re doing a drop on WNDRLN.com this holiday season of our travel socks. They are compression socks, and then they’re these fantastic socks we’ve worked on for quite some time. We have a gorgeous garment bag coming for spring, packable totes, a crossbody bag… so many amazing things! I want you to travel in style, and I can’t wait to see our customers out and about.