The Fly Travel Line owner and Baltimore native Crystal L. Bass has used her platform to uncover and illuminate issues that are important to young women. Bass, an author, playwright, and actress, founded her clothing line Theflytravelline.com.
Bass’s successful first novel, Dark Clouds: A Charm City Family’s Struggle, inspired her to turn it into a stage play. Transforming her remarkable story into a production, Bass produced, directed , and toured her national hit stage play, Ain’t No Love Like A Mother’s Love.
Honored and recognized by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and the Rainbow Push Coalition as a “Top Inspirational and Engaged Leader,” Bass is now focused on growing her travel line, which combines vacation tours and fashion. Simply put, you can plan a trip and get the perfect declarative t-shirt or swimsuit to match.
BLACK ENTERPRISE caught up with Bass to discuss what inspired her travel line, how she used her success as a coach and leader to build her brand, and advice for young women of color.
BLACK ENTERPRISE: What inspired The Fly Travel Line?
BASS: I was inspired to create The Fly Travel Line because travel makes me feel free! As a teenager I was wrongfully convicted of a crime I did not commit, which took away my freedom. Through the eyes of the court, I was guilty by association, sentenced to jail time, and labeled a felon. The Fly Travel Line became a vessel to help tell stories on my journey while embracing my freedom to explore the world.
Initially, I started designing travel t-shirts with fashionable wit for myself. But, while traveling, I’d get stopped and asked, “Where did you get that shirt?” That’s when things came full circle for me, and I knew that my messages resonated with other travel lovers.
How have you used your success as a coach, entrepreneur, and writer to build the brand?
Just like writing, travel is a form of self-care! The Fly Travel Line was birthed from my deep love of words combined with my passion for travel. There’s no better way to tell a story on your journey than to wear the words across your chest. I have used my success as a coach, entrepreneur, and writer by merging the two things that I love together as one.
What challenges have you faced developing the clothing line?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far while developing my The Fly Travel Line was COVID! My business is travel-based. As soon as I launched, the world went on lockdown, and travel restrictions went into full effect. I had to decide whether to push forward or push pause.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I pivoted The Fly Travel Line! Instead of focusing on the negative impact of COVID and the travel restrictions, I launched a live, virtual travel experience. I noticed many people battling loneliness, depression, and isolation due to social distancing during the pandemic. Live, virtual tours allowed travel lovers to see the world and interact with others. These tours were meaningful because we were not just sitting in front of a Zoom watching a video. Our hosts broadcasted live from Sicily, California, Budapest, Canada, and South Africa!
There are many fashion options for customers to choose from. What makes your brand different?
The Fly Travel Line is different because it is single-handedly the voice for ventures! We put a personal spin on slogans, making statements and memories for travel lovers.
What key pieces of advice can you offer young women of color who want to turn their passion into profit?
1. Figure out your true passion first, then let God guide you to profit.
2. Invest in yourself—focus on your strengths BUT outsource the rest!
3. Don’t let your food get cold watching someone else’s plate.