Posted on February 11 2015
Tamara is co-founder and CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of the incredible boutique travel company Mr & Mrs Smith. Among her many, and varied, day-to-day responsibilities, she is in charge of leading the tech team, and has also launched the Smith Travel Blog, smithandkids.com, smithandfamily.co.uk and the Smith Hotels iPhone app.
In 2014, Tamara, alongside her husband, and Mr & Mrs Smith co-founder, James Lohan were awarded MBEs for services to the British travel industry.
Newnham: Tamara, can you tell us a little about your background?
Lohan: I grew up in Ibiza, then read modern languages at Oxford before starting my career in brand marketing, launching an energy drink in Brazil. In 2003, my boyfriend (now my husband) and I went on a supposedly romantic weekend away in the Lake District… but the hotel was a complete let down. We wondered why there wasn’t a guide book around for people like us; one that recommended only the very best boutique hotels. So, we decided to publish our own! Nine coffee-table guidebooks later, we’ve built Mr & Mrs Smith into a boutique-hotel booking service with more than 950 properties all over the world in the collection.
Newnham: Impressive growth! And what are your ambitions now for Mr & Mrs Smith?
Lohan: We want Mr & Mrs Smith to be the absolute best place in the world to book a boutique hotel: it’s visual and inspirational, and we have a carefully curated collection of hotels that are tried, tested and trusted. We want to be screen agnostic, so the booking experience is the same whether you browse and book at mrandmrssmith.com on your mobile, desktop or tablet. And, we have ambitious plans to grow our business more internationally, too. There are so many things!
Newnham: Can you tell us about the biggest obstacle you have faced, as an entrepreneur, and how you overcame it
Lohan: Naivety is a great thing when you’re an entrepreneur: it often means that you innovate and disrupt. However, it can also lead you to make a few mistakes along the way… there were certain points when perhaps we should’ve taken advice from more established people in the industry, because we could’ve avoided a lot of wasted effort and heartache!
Newnham: What advice would you offer other women looking to start their own business?
Lohan: If you don’t love what you are about to do, don’t do it. And don’t think you can have it all – often women who look like they’re super human are actually just faking it really well! Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s an enormous amount of hard work, to start and run your own business. After all, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
We always ask this question - if you could go back in time, what one piece of advice would you offer a younger Tamara?
Lohan: I’d say, "Remember who you are and what you love." Work can be all-encompassing, so I’d remind her to take a step back, look around and enjoy the journey. I’d also tell her to remember to floss!