Tara Cappel (BSBA 2013) was feeling great heading into 2020. Her group travel company for young professionals, For the Love of Travel (FTLO Travel), had booked a record number of trips for the year. She’d worked hard for years to build the business, running group trips for 20- and 30-somethings all over the world highlighting culture and connection.
Cappel, like the rest of the world, had no idea that COVID-19 was ready to strike, halting travel and immobilizing the company she’d forged shortly after graduating from Daniels. She also had no idea that the global pandemic would inspire her next great idea: a modern study-abroad program for remote working adults.
“I started thinking about what the future of travel would look like where people were working remotely and could take their work with them,” Cappel said. “I also noticed throughout the pandemic that people were picking up new hobbies or learning new skills, which was bringing them purpose and joy during an extremely difficult time. I fused the two ideas and created Sojrn as a way to help people continue learning while they immerse themselves in a new place.”
Sojrn’s first four chapters allow remote workers to go to Colombia to learn Spanish, to Italy to immerse themselves in wine, to Bali to focus on mental wellness and to Greece to study philosophy. The monthlong experiences are inspired by Cappel’s own adventures abroad, when she moved to Europe to learn languages in their
places of origin.
“Learning from locals is so much easier and more fun. The cultural context helped me understand the languages on a deeper level, and living in a foreign country forced me to rethink aspects of life I previously took for granted,” she said.
While FTLO Travel was sidelined (it’s now running trips again), Cappel worked on Sojrn for six months before formally launching in spring 2021.
“The response has been phenomenal,” she said. “We sold out two of the four programs and generated over $250,000 in bookings in the first two days. Sojrn is really striking a chord with people.
“My advice when you’re facing hardship is to find your true north and just keep going. Keep finding solutions. Keep staying in motion. My goal has always been to help people have transformational cultural exchanges. Focusing on that mission helped me come up with the idea for Sojrn and make the most of a difficult situation.”