Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Tiffany Patterson, founder of Cowrie. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Tiffany! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing at Cowrie?
Tiffany: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Cowrie is a wellness travel platform for individuals of color to discover retreats, community organizers, and like-minded groups. Unfortunately, people of color and intersectional identities (LGBTQIA, disability, etc.) have higher rates of mental wellness needs but have fewer options for inclusive wellness experiences. Cowrie's mission is to inspire people of color to disconnect from the daily grind, reconnect with the land, and give back to the earth that nurtures us.
Spiffy: That’s great! What motivated you to do it?
Tiffany: With everything happening in the world and corporate America, I wanted to find a way to cultivate and spread joy for myself and others. My source of joy mainly comes from spending time outdoors and traveling. I want to create a sustainable and culturally conscious way for communities of color to explore the outdoors.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Tiffany: Cowrie's goal is to connect with local brands, groups, and experiences that center on fostering safe wellness travel experiences for people of color. Travelers are more likely to enjoy their retreats when responsibly connecting with the local culture and environment. Local economies are more likely to thrive when travelers support local businesses.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?
Tiffany: Cowrie recently joined Going.com's affiliate program. It's a small win but a helpful step towards exploring ways Cowrie can partner with vendors that make travel more accessible. Many individuals I've spoken to expressed the desire to go on a wellness retreat but a) could not afford to do so or b) could afford to do so but wanted something within a specific budget.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?
Tiffany: Cowrie began as a platform to provide resources and community for individuals of color navigating the early stages of entrepreneurship. A lack of follow-through from companies who made commitments in 2020 signaled a much-needed pivot. Finding ways to build a dedicated team and get in front of the right investors remains a challenge. But what keeps me going is thinking about life as an experiment—you can only know whether something is valid, feasible, or possible with plenty of trial and error. Failure, especially public failure, may seem daunting initially, but the feeling you get from learning makes you curious about what else is possible.
Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Tiffany: I might not have gotten as far as I hoped, but I'm right where I should be so that, in time, I am exactly where I need to be.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Tiffany—it’s been an honor!
Tiffany Patterson, founder of Cowrie, has nine years of experience building digital experiences and voluntarily leading or supporting business employee resource groups for black, women, and, disabled-identifying colleagues. A first-generation Caribbean American, Tiffany is also passionate about sharing her experiences of “the in-between,” growing up in America and spending time with family in the Caribbean. As she travels and writes about displacement, culture, language, and self-discovery, she aims for reflection, not perfection—unapologetically. (Nominated by Josef Scarantino at Hubspot Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on January 2, 2024.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.