Vera Bradley Cofounder Is Betting on the Return of Business Travel

  • Vera Bradley cofounder and former president, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard is opening a lodge.
  • The Bradley lodge can be in the identical metropolis Baekgaard constructed her firm, in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  • The millionaire entrepreneur is betting a resurgence of enterprise vacationers will fill most of her rooms.
  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia Miller have been abhorred by the dreadfully boring baggage vacationers hauled via the airport in the 1980s. Two days later, they launched the iconic purse model Vera Bradley, identified for its colourful paisley and floral designs.

“[When] you come up with an idea, don’t overthink it,” Baekgaard advised Insider. She initially invested $500 into what’s now a $468 million publicly-traded firm. “They call me ‘ready, fire, aim.’ And that I’ll take that as a compliment because I just go ahead with it.”

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Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, cofounder and former president of Vera Bradley.

Courtesy of Vera Bradley

On July 15, Baekgaard begins a brand new chapter in the city the place Vera Bradley started: She’s opening Fort Wayne, Indiana’s first boutique lodge, The Bradley, and betting that the resurgence of enterprise journey will gasoline the majority of bookings. 

“We have a lot of industry here in Fort Wayne,” mentioned Baekgaard, one of the 100 richest self-made girls in the US, in accordance with Forbes. “Business leaders have all reached out to me and said they’re so thrilled that now there’ll be a place to have people come in.”

Two patterned walls open up a view to a restaurant with a bar and stools in the middle of the space.

Birdie’s, the bar and restaurant inside The Bradley lodge.

Courtesy of The Bradley

The journey trade was one of the hardest hit throughout the pandemic. While tourism is already rebounding, enterprise journey is prone to see a slower comeback with 43% of greater than 2,500 enterprise vacationers anticipated to scale back journeys as soon as the pandemic ends, in accordance with a survey by consulting agency Oliver Wyman.

Opening a lodge in Indiana’s second largest metropolis has been a dream of Baekgaard’s for a very long time. She grew up round the ornate resorts of Miami seashore and traveled lots together with her husband to Europe. “I wanted a hotel that reflected the city we were in,” she mentioned. “If we were in Rome, I didn’t want to be in a Hilton. I wanted to be in an Italian hotel.” 

But in Fort Wayne, there weren’t many choices the place folks may keep for enterprise journeys or weddings. “I’m so proud of everything we have here — the restaurants, the people, the cost of living, the park, the trees, the river — but then their last memory is staying at a regular hotel or motel,” she mentioned. 

Large letters on a building awning spell out The Bradley.

Courtesy of The Bradley

The Bradley has 124 rooms and is managed by Provenance, a lodge proprietor and operator with 13 different properties throughout the US. The pet-friendly lodge has facilities customary with the Provenance remedy, like a health middle with a Peloton bike and Mirror, complimentary bikes to discover the metropolis, and wellness kits delivered to friends’ doorways with a yoga mat, weights, and different health tools. 

On the fifth ground is a terrace bar and restaurant named Birdie’s, after Baekgaard’s nickname given by her grandchildren, which is able to serve consolation meals like fried hen sandwiches and sourdough French toast for weekend brunch. 

The decor can be uniquely her personal, with floral headboards and customized wallpapers. There can be nods to Vera Bradley with the colours and patterns, however you will not see replicas of the model’s prints. “You’re not going to walk in the door and think you’re in a Vera Bradley store,” she mentioned.

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