We Travel For Women+: Youmie Jean Francois, Flex-N-Fly
My name is Youmie Jean Francois. I’m a Haitian-born, New York City-raised nomad that’s bridging the gap between travel and wellness with my company Flex-N-Fly. I’m an avid traveler that speaks four languages fluently, a transformational speaker, and a brand and wellness consultant. My desire is to expand the face of wellness.
I’m the Founder and CEO of Flex-N-Fly, an award-winning travel wellness company that provides stretching, yoga, and relaxation classes at the airport. My desire is to take care of travelers that suffer from anxiety and mental health. I’m also the designer of our best-selling anti-theft minimalist travel bag, The Flex|Bags. You can find me splitting my time between New York City and Colombia.
I started working in the travel industry accidentally. I was a professional backup dancer and an avid traveler. I loved being at the airport. I realized that not many people enjoyed that space because of the level of anxiety it caused. I decided that I wanted to create an oasis in the midst of chaos. I saw the problem and I felt like I was the answer.
Flex-N-Fly is my third business venture. I sold my last two businesses. I have a background in entertainment and education. After being a professional dancer and transitioning into acting, I realized that the industry was good at selling dreams and fame to people but not paying them properly. I realized I liked money and stability way more. Although entrepreneurship has its ups and downs, it’s not lying to me. I have many dreams for Flex-N-Fly including being in multiple airports around the world.
What I knew about the travel industry before I entered it was surface-level knowledge. I think traveling offered me more insight. I have a tradition where I wake up in a different country every new year. I’ve been doing it for over 13 years. Traveling the world as a Black woman has taught me a lot about what people like me need to feel safe while they see the world. This further fueled my passion to change things at the airport and the industry.
The travel and tourism industry is a trillion-dollar industry but when it comes to travel, the images of people traveling and working in the industry don’t often look like me. There are many reasons for this including the history of Blacks not being able to travel around the world safely. I also know that the travel industry is dominated by men. Whether it’s airlines, airports, tourism boards, or businesses that offer excursions. The process to get into the airport as a Black woman hasn’t been the easiest. Introducing people to the concept that wellness has a place in the travel space sounds good but getting financial backing has been incredibly difficult. Still, I’m happy to make believers out of people. That’s why I’m excited to be having the first-ever summit that merges travel and wellness this spring in NYC. Am I nervous? Yes, but I intend on disrupting this space, and I know those that are people set apart to help me, will.
So, I encourage all of you: Show up! I mean that in every sense of the words. Show up financially, show up physically, and use your platform to highlight and celebrate women entrepreneurs who are disrupting this space. The more we’re genuinely supported, the more we can normalize women in this space. Don’t just wait for people to reach out to you, but ask how you can help. Finally, bring our names into rooms. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed because my name was mentioned in a room I had yet to enter. If you see us, let the world know because we are here.
I think it’s important to know and remember that there are people waiting for you to do your purpose so that they can do theirs. Watching you do it gives them the courage to do it as well. Please remember that you don’t have to do it alone, but you have to start. Start and I promise you the people that are set apart to help you on your journey will show up for you. We’re waiting on you, bloom.
“Choice is the engine of our evolution.” -Gary Zukav