Kalyn Salinas The Citrine Compass
Kalyn Salinas, founder of The Citrine Compass. (Credit: Courtesy of The Citrine Compass)

Earlier this year, Kalyn Salinas, launched The Citrine Compass – a travel agency that was years in the making. During Covid lockdowns, Salinas, an avid traveler herself, spent a lot of her time crafting fantasy itineraries for trips to take once it was safe to see the world again. The Los Angeles mom then began considering the concept of launching a boutique travel firm that would help busy individuals plan their dream trips. She realized the best way to plan an adventure in a new place is to confer with locals who know a place’s hidden gems and the roads less traveled. So today, The Citrine Compass has a solid roster of trusted experts around the world who curate vacation plans based on customers’ interests and tastes. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

I’m doing something disruptive in the travel industry. When planning a trip, most people either spend hours combing social media, travel forums, blogs and articles to piece together a trip, or use a travel agent. But most agents don’t live in the location you want to travel to, come at a premium or don’t offer much flexibility. We, however, are offering a middle ground!

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

Announcing to the world that I was launching a new business in a different industry. I had been delaying by debating the right wording, perfect branding, a chic website – the list goes on. Then, I was reminded of a quote I heard on the Female Startup Club podcast that said: “If what you have is 80% perfect, it’s good enough.” So I pulled the trigger on the announcement. I have had more setbacks than “yes” moments to date, but I know this business will be successful. I’m here for the long haul, and determined to enjoy the ride!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

My top challenge has been marketing the company on a shoestring budget. I have had to be creative about utilizing my resources. I’ve relied on women’s entrepreneurship organizations like Dreamers & Doers as well as Female Founders Collective, and have pieced together a strategy mostly from the advice of other female founders or marketing consultants who are generous with their time. So many women have been in this early start-up phase before, and now they want to see other female-founded businesses win.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?

Having my daughter, Margarita Rose. I knew that I wanted to be a working mom, and to show her that it’s possible to be an engaged parent and a badass career woman simultaneously. But my time became a precious commodity. The only time I was willing to spend away from her had to be time spent pursuing my dream – and nothing else.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

There is never a “good” time to start something new, scary and bold! If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, and believe in your resourcefulness, then act. Imperfect action today is better than perfection tomorrow.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

I’m constantly in pursuit of more mindfulness, joy and reflection in my life. Our family loves a mediation app called Waking Up. I just finished its series on stoicism, and find myself frequently reminded of a talk about how there is always someone out there that would trade spots with you, no matter how bad things might seem. Our darkest day might be a dream for someone else. We are the creators of our own realities – and in start-up mode, I am choosing to expect adversity and challenges, instead of being discouraged by them. Without those experiences, we can’t grow as people or in our business pursuits.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen when I want to feel energized, and “Rise Up” by Andra Day when I am feeling more sentimental.

Who is your most important role model?

I have found inspiration from other founders’ stories. I am an avid listener of Guy Raz’s “How I Built This,” the Female Startup Club and Goop podcasts. I regard anyone who has persisted and thrived in their start-up as a sort of role model. 

My husband is also an amazing visionary, businessman and believer in what’s possible. He believed in my ability to thrive as an entrepreneur before I even saw it in myself.◼

Instagram: @thecitrinecompass

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