05 Apr This Female Entrepreneur is Winning the Glamping Game
Meet Tess, a 29-year-old female powerhouse who runs her own glampsite amid the green pine forests of Landes, France. We wanted to hear her story and find out why she got into the business of glamping, so we dropped by.
We find Tess and her bell tents pitched on a local campground near the shores of Etang Blanc, or white lake, of Seignosse. The campground itself is a bit renowned with travelers that have come here to camp for generations––but right now Tess’ tents are all the craze.
A change of scenery… and of plans
Basque-born Tess Eudeline had been living near Toulouse and working as a beautician for nearly five years when she saw her life passing before her eyes and wondered what the purpose of it all was. So what do you do when you find yourself in your mid-twenties and stuck in a routine of work, home, and paying bills? Get out of your comfort zone and go backpacking, of course!
A journey like that can’t but take you to the modern Meccas for self-discovery––Bali, India, and Australia. Feeling that her trip was transformative but unfinished, Tess soon flew back Down Under for an extended stay, stopping over in Thailand and Cambodia before arriving home in 2019.
At that point, coming back to where everything started made total sense. This time she was going to do things differently. In real Aussie-backpacker fashion, Tess went to work in a surf camp in the heart of Biscarrosse. Fueled by the journeys she’d been on, there she developed her love for tourism and soon started thinking about starting her own business. But how to actually start one?
Running a glampsite as a solo female entrepreneur
After a summer season in Biscarrosse, Tess decided to get into the entrepreneurial profile and began working on her own project––finding the right product, developing a concept, and contacting campgrounds around Les Landes. It’s July 2020 and, amidst the turmoil and insecurity of a global pandemic, the ever-positive Basque installed her first three bells tents on a local campground with a loyal and family-oriented clientèle. She now has 10. But you don’t just get to 10 tents in less than two years. It’s hard work and dedication.
Tess has been running the glampsite pretty much by herself. She was happy to have a female woofer last year to help her out and she is thrilled to be able to offer her this season a real working contract. A real milestone and that after only a full year of activity!
Before that, she got her boyfriend’s help from time to time, setting up the equipment at the start of the season. But still, it was Tess that took care of the entire design, marketing, booking process, and hosting experience. With pastel interiors and natural looks, the bell tents have Tess’ feminine touch indeed.
“I wanted to create an atmosphere that reflects my personality and taste. Looking back, I realized that my travels influenced my choice of colors and materials. I’m a huge fan of buying second hand and love to hunt for treasures at local flea markets. My goal was to create a cocooning atmosphere with natural and second hand objects! I want to create a space of relaxation, close to nature that represents my own lifestyle.”
But it’s more than the aesthetics that have a feminine touch at Tess’ camp. Her business runs on female empowerment. As a female entrepreneur, she wants to highlight how difficult it can be to be taken seriously in the industry. She needed to overcome some sexist comments, difficulties and challenges, and still today. On the upside, all these bad experiences are pushing her to perform even more and to prove that females can be successful at starting their own business.
“I’m very sensitive to female empowerment and all the violence and discrimination made toward women around the world.” That’s why Tess makes sure to work with and support female-owned businesses and services. In the future, she wants to develop a retreat 100% female to empower young women and push them to be more self confident. “I’d invite female speakers, travelers, and other inspiring women.”
But she doesn’t just focus on women. Tess just loves to empower others.
“I try to support small businesses and young projects that share my values. Like the fact that Campanyon focuses on nature places––it helps me target my audience much better.”
Tess shares that she uses Booking.com to get a bigger chance to get bookings, but that most of her customers coming from the big aggregator are not here for the experience. “They just come because the [campsite] happens to be where they wanted to go.” Tess feels there’s a lack of interest and motivation from the Booking.com customers. “It’s too mainstream.”
For Tess, being a host is her passion. As she puts it, “I dedicate 80% of my time to my project and am 100% passionate about it.” Her favorite memory at her glampsite is during a hot summer night last year. There she sat down and took the time to observe her campers all busy cooking outside of their tents, cheering, laughing, and playing together. It was an aha moment where the whole picture made sense and she felt like she was finally doing what she was supposed to––giving the opportunity to people to create memories in a place she created herself!
Tess’ tips on camping in Les Landes
The beauty of Les Landes is breathtaking and the culinary specialities are renowned all over the country. It’s home to Europe’s largest pine forest, endless coastlines and fine surfing breaks, lakes and the highest dune on the continent.
“Like everywhere in The Landes, locals here are very attached to the beauty of nature, they’re very aware of the gift that mother nature gave them. For them, it’s important that campers are aware of this treasure and that its preservation is vital. If you come to the Landes region, make sure to not throw anything on the floor, leave no trace behind you at the beach and do not throw any cigarette buds on the floor as fire risks are high and locals still remember devastating fires in the past.”
The Landes region is very often called the Australia/California of Europe because of its natural resources but also because of the friendliness of the population.
“You will often hear a local say “tu” instead of the polite “vous” so no need to show high profiles here, play it cool!”