Evita Turquoise Robinson

Evita Turquoise Robinson, founder and CEO of NOMADNESS

“I think what the tribe instills is a support system that fosters courage and permission to live out loud. And live the way that you want to even if it’s unorthodox. When Tribe is everywhere, it gives you the confidence to go anywhere.”

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Meet Evita Turquoise Robinson. Evita launched Nomadness Travel Tribe, a community for the urban traveler, primarily women of color, back in September of 2011. She has grown her “Tribe” from an initial 100 risk-takers to nearly 20,000 world-beaters. Evita describes herself as, “The ambassador of getting more diverse representation in the travel industry. A creative with a world mission. An empath that galvanizes the community. A leader.” Last summer she was a TED Resident; you can see her TED Talk here. Connect with Evita personally via @evierobbie on all platforms and @nomadnesstribe professionally.

What Does She Do?

As the founder and CEO of NOMADNESS, Evita has built up an online social community primarily for travelers of color over the last 6+ years. The group currently surpasses 17,000 international members, with over 100,000 passport stamps, and nearly 100 meetups a year, all across the globe. As the face of what has become an international movement, Evita is a frequent speaker and has built NOMADNESS to support and amplify diverse millennials in the newly coined “black travel movement.” NOMADNESS has not only surfaced the immense spending power of this community — $50 billion annually among African-American travelers, $40 million dollars among her community alone. NOMADNESS has partnered with Airbnb, Etihad Airlines, GoPro, Facebook Stories, Hyatt, Skift.com, Cantu. Evita also co-executive produces The NOMADNESS Project web series with Issa Rae.

“I think what the tribe instills is a support system that fosters courage and permission to live out loud. And live the way that you want to even if it’s unorthodox. When Tribe is everywhere, it gives you the confidence to go anywhere.”

How Did She Get Into This Work?

Evita claims Poughkeepsie, NY as her hometown. From the age of fifteen through college, she threw house parties. Initially, she didn’t charge for her events, but with hundreds of dollars in unsolicited gift cards, she realized that she was destined to be an entrepreneur: “I always knew I’d never work for anyone, but didn’t know how it would manifest.” While the cops routinely attempted to break up her gatherings, she had a secret weapon: “My mother would come to the door and show her badge — she worked in corrections — and we’d turn the music down until they were blocks away. My mother would say, ‘You better do this for your kids when you get older.”’

Immediately after graduation, Evita became an expat, moving to Paris. With a background in TV production — her course of study in college — she piloted her first iteration of NoMadness TV as a web series, “running about world with a shitty camera and pirated Final Cut Pro, cutting vignettes of my life as a black twentysomething girl.” Over the course of her travels, she sought out folks her age, with travel as a priority and began building the NOMADNESS community via Facebook.

Evita is passionate not only about the future of travel but also its fraught history. In her TED Talk, she anchors The Negro Motorist Green Book — which provided African-American travelers with information on where it was safe to visit and stay — as an antecedent and touchstone for NOMADNESS, noting that the guidebook was created during Jim Crow, marveling how “in generations we’ve gone from literally being chained, to literally being able to fly.”

Over the years NOMADNESS has seen the launch of many small businesses, Tribe members going into business with one another, Tribe babies, Tribe friendships, as well as international networking opportunities and, every couple of months, Evita hears from someone who has been inspired to quit their 9-5 and see the world in an extended fashion, some even becoming location-independent.

What Project Is She Working On?

NOMADNESS is a broad platform that continues to expand, not merely as a community of world travelers but also as a focus group for the travel industry. In a recent article, Evita wrote for Travel + Leisure, she notes that, per Nielsen, less than 3% of overall advertising showcases African-Americans. After her TED Residency Evita signed with Get Lifted, John Legend’s production company and she and Issa Rae have been busy pitching television projects.

Evita is animated about this moment: “There’s so much going on, especially for creatives and creators of color. We see it with Black Panther. I know two projects that BP has directly helped.
Everything has to be a trampoline. It’s a jumping-off point. I don’t care how big it is. Even with my TED Residency and Talk, it’s a jumping-off point. Seize the moment, right now. If you’re a POC (Person of Color), Be Working Hard.”

This is also a moment of great urgency when discrimination against travelers who are women of color persists: “Last fall when Tamika D Mallory was removed from an American Airlines flight – she’ s one of the organizers of the Women’s March — she went on Facebook Live. They had no idea of the caliber of these women. All of a sudden they tried to retract, (our community was saying) “OK, we’re fed up here.”’ What they still don’t realize is that they’re not just missing out in the community, but also financially.”

How Did She Come to Civic Hall?

Evita’s first contact with Civic Hall was at Fifth Avenue when she was involved in an Airbnb event. She credits Tamika T Taylor for circling back: “Tamika single-handedly was the catalyst for bringing me here to launch “Part of the Conversation” for Black History Month. Evita felt at home from the first day, seeing a number of TED Residency members, including Jackson Bird and Wendy Brawer.

What Is Her Ask of Civic Hall?

Evita has been working out of Civic Hall for less than a month, so she hasn’t yet thought of an ask. But give her time.

Asked how her experience in building a nation of 20,000 travelers might translate to civic engagement, Evita considers: “The beauty of Civic Hall is that you have people from all walks of life, in one area. I think that the key is to find that sweet spot that hits everybody. And if you can find that sweet spot and tune into that to get everybody’s attention — they all come with various experiences and perspectives — but if you can find that sweet spot that hits everyone at the core, that’s where you start. That’s where you start.”