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September 13, 2016 | Tom Ballard

“The Works” Participant #6: Travelista

The Works Demo Day(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth in a series of articles profiling the teams participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator. The teams will pitch their ideas on September 21 during a “Demo Day” at Scripps Networks Interactive. For more details, click here. Registration deadline is September 16.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Teri Johnson’s tagline for her company that is participating in the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center’s inaugural “The Works” accelerator says it all: “Live Better and Travel More.”

The Houston native who now calls New York City home says Travelista has been “eight years in the making.” The official name is Travelista Enterprises, LLC.

“I have a brand that I created . . . travel, culture, lifestyle . . . taking great things about destinations and applying to your life,” Johnson told us. “The brand has evolved just as I have.”

A part of that evolution involves a distinctive link with another company that she also started – Harlem Candle Company. Founded in September 2014, it was inspired by the fragrances and scents that Johnson experienced as she traveled to more than 60 countries. Those travels were part of her ongoing work as a writer/producer, speaker, and on-air personality.

How does she link the two? It is based on the fact that the sense of smell is closely linked with memory, more so than the other senses. As a result, Johnson says that individuals with full olfactory function will smell the candle fragrance in a way that evokes particular memories.

“I want to tell people about destinations through my video productions, then offer the essence of the locale through the scent of my candles,” Johnson says. “You can light-up the candle, and you’ll relive the trip.”

Travelista Teri’s webpage shows videos produced for the Travel Channel, BET, major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), and publications like Cosmopolitan, Ebony, and The Huffington Post.

For those who love to travel, there are links to places like Antigua, Puerto Vallarta, Curacao, Cape Town, Jerusalem, and Bali. You can also find her videos on YouTube and

Johnson says she majored in business in college even though she had a strong interest in journalism. During those years, she caught the video production bug, starting out as a co-producer of an entertainment television show before becoming the host.

Over the years, she has produced branded videos for a variety of clients, ranging from some of the major automotive manufacturers to the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts. Much of her work today is about tourism and travel.

Participating in “The Works” provided the first opportunity for Johnson to visit Knoxville even though she had worked with Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of the Travel Channel, in the past.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Johnson says of the accelerator. “It is a really good staff that is setting us up to succeed. There’s a team behind us. Much of my work in the past has been on my own.”

Like many of today’s media content producers, Johnson writes, tapes, edits and is the on camera personality. It’s a one-person undertaking.

Her goals entering “The Works” were to grow her audience and the reputation of her travel and fragrance businesses.


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