Planned a birthday trip that went viral on The Shade Room,” said CEO & Founder of Flight Club VIP, Annie Wade. “People were like oh my God where did you go, who planned your trip? Can you plan our trip? And I was like wait a minute, I’m kind of on to something right here.”
In 2018 Wade filed her LLC for Flight Club VIP and turned a passion into a full fledge business. Though the entrepreneur has been living in Houston for almost 13 years, she is a Louisiana girl originally from Lafayette.
As a graduate of Southern University A&M College, she initially imagined herself on TV broadcasting the news.
“I thought I wanted to be a news anchor for a television network,” she reflected. “But right when I was getting ready to graduate and applying for jobs, they were like okay, well you don’t start off as an anchor or even a reporter, we’re going to pay you $8 an hour to write copy.”
Wade was initially disappointed in her reality, but she pushed forward.
“I was like that’s not in the cards for me,” she said. “I want to get my income together so I can start my own business. I’m like this isn’t going to cut it so I actually did copywriting on the side. I did videos on the side, like training videos for a company.”
Eventually, Wade reintroduced herself to her passion for fashion. In college she minored in apparel design and merchandising which led her to retail management.
“It was always a love of mine, not necessarily to do retail, but I’ve always been passionate about connecting with people and customer experiences,” she said. “I’m a service-oriented person, so I was like well this is perfect, I love to sell and I love fashion.”
The fashion lover went back to school to get her MBA in Marketing and International Business so she could go into the oil and gas industry.
“While I was in grad school, I actually started Glamology, my fashion boutique,” said Wade. “So, my marketing plan was built off an actual business that I was working on. I had been wanting to start that boutique since when I was in college, but you know your kind of like oh, well the industry is so over saturated, everyone has a boutique.”
Wade refused to allow doubt and fear to stop her from manifesting her business.
“I was like it’s time to just jump,” she decided. “Just go for it and stop making up excuses. And when I was in grad school, I started my boutique and that was my first dive into entrepreneurship at that point in time.”
Though Wade had Glamology on the forefront of her brain she still had her sights on the oil and gas industry.
“Well guess what? In 2014, when I was graduating, things weren’t too good in that market,” she remembered. “People were getting laid off and interesting enough, Comcast reached out to me about negotiating contracts for them because in my job that I was in while in grad school, I was already negotiating contracts. I was helping kids go through the CPA process and getting their CPA certification so still servicing people and helping them make their passion their paycheck. I’ve been with Comcast ever since. It’s been 7 years now, but I’ve always had my own entrepreneurial endeavors outside of that.”
Glamology proved to be a success with a celebrity clientele, but then tragedy struck.
“I lost the boutique with Harvey in 2017,” Wade said. “That was devastating. I literally put over $200,000 into it. I invested a lot into it. To lose it the way I did was really hard,” Wade remembers. “Everybody was like Annie you have to reopen this boutique. Everybody loved it and had a good experience with it. I was like do I really want to start over from scratch again? I didn’t get insurance to cover it because it was a flood loss. I’m like what do I do? I said I’m going to pray on it and take my time.”
Flight Club VIP started out as simply a travel club.
“I started bringing different friend groups together just to travel,” she said. “Everybody started having a good time and saying I want to travel with you again, Annie bring us all together again,” she said. “And I started doing it on a regular basis and I’m like, I need to make this into a travel club.”
Wade runs the luxury travel concierge service along with COO Byron Lundy.
“I did bring in someone and give a small piece of the pie away,” she said. “It’s okay to give a piece of the pie away to someone else cause it can sometimes not only add value to you but your clients and the customer experience at the end of the day. I think that it’s really key with anything with entrepreneurship – be open to collaboration.”
Wade was excited about her new venture and then once again, the unexpected happened.
“I launched it in Dec 2018,” she said. “2019 is when I formally made it public to everybody and then guess what a year later? We have a pandemic.”
Unfortunately, the entrepreneur is no stranger to hardships. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in April of 2010 and decided to fight through her illness and whatever else life threw at her.
“Being from a smaller city, I always wanted so much more for myself than what I could accomplish in Lafayette. And I’ve always been big on pushing myself beyond what people tell me I can do. I’m not going to limit myself because of naysayers and dream killers. And even its that’s your professional opinion, let me take control over what I believe that I am capable of. I’m just a fighter. I’ve been flaring throughout the pandemic and it’s been tough, but to see me still create this planner.”
Like many travelers the coronavirus pandemic hit Wade hard.
“I was traveling every month somewhere – always on the go and it was hard not traveling,” she said. “I need to look forward to the days of traveling again, so like why not create this resource for that reason? The black travel moment is so huge, and we all need to have an opportunity to participate in that, so I wanted to create a resource guide for that reasoning as well. I wanted to create the first black luxury travel planner.”
The “Dream Without Limits” Travel Planner was launched Cinco de Mayo.
“I’m helping people from my hometown like 21 years old go to Dubai,” Wade said. “When I was 21, I wasn’t going to Dubai. But let me help you make that happen.”