On the Living Ageless and Bold Podcast, I get to interview incredible inspiring women. This one is super inspiring!.
Imagine being a powerhouse female in a male-dominated industry. Meet Kristina Bouseiri, CEO of Reston Limousine. Read how she bought the company from her now ex-husband and grew it exponentially!
Starting the Journey: From Childhood to Entrepreneurship
Welcome to the Living Ageless and Bold podcast, where each episode introduces you to remarkable women who inspire, educate, and share their life experiences and journeys. In this captivating interview, host Christina Daves sits down with Kristina Bouweiri, the CEO of Reston Limo, the largest limousine and bus service in the Washington DC area. The conversation is a testament to Kristina’s resilience, innovation, and ability to thrive in a male-dominated industry.
Finding Passion in a Male-Dominated Space
Kristina Bouweiri, a trailblazer in a traditionally male-dominated field, shares her incredible journey with host Christina Daves. As the CEO of Reston Limo, she oversees a thriving business that has grown significantly under her leadership. Kristina’s journey began with a chance encounter as she cold-called potential clients from the Yellow Pages. It was during this time that she met her husband, who owned Reston Limo. What started as a sales pitch for an ad turned into a love story and a business partnership that shaped her future.
A Childhood of Diversity and International Exposure
Kristina’s unique childhood greatly influenced her decision-making and approach to business. Born in Japan to a father serving in the foreign service, she spent 20 years living overseas. Her exposure to diverse cultures and experiences instilled in her a deep appreciation for international affairs. Upon moving to the United States for college, she pursued a degree in international affairs and initially aspired to follow her father’s footsteps in the foreign service.
However, life had different plans for Kristina. A compelling internship opportunity with a nonprofit dedicated to uplifting women in the third world shifted her trajectory. She spent two years in Somalia, passionately working on projects to empower women. Upon her return to the United States, Kristina’s career path took an unexpected turn as she delved into commissioned sales advertising, marking the initial steps that led her to the limousine business.
Diversifying and Expanding the Business
Kristina talks about the early stages of Reston Limo, which initially had only five cars and was focused on corporate clients. She shares her determination to diversify the business by adding proms and weddings despite initial resistance. Her proactive approach in reaching out to brides through cold calling led to a significant increase in wedding bookings. The conversation also delves into Reston Limo’s shift towards government contracts, which brought substantial growth during the ’90s due to successful bidding on various contracts. Kristina highlights the company’s involvement with tech companies during the dot-com era and their role in transporting influential figures.
Adapting to Challenges: 9/11 and Economic Struggles
The discussion takes a turn to address the challenges faced by Reston Limo post-9/11. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, led to a standstill in the travel and events industry, impacting airport transportation, corporate travel, and more. Kristina shares how the business was affected and reflects on the shock of the event. She narrates how they faced additional difficulties when their bank dropped them due to perceived security threats in the aftermath of the attacks. Despite these setbacks, Kristina recounts the resilience they displayed and their ability to find a new bank to continue operations. The subsequent recovery of the economy is touched upon, as well as the five-year period of breaking even while navigating the challenging post-9/11 landscape.
Balancing Family and Business, Embracing Challenges
In this section, the conversation delves into the dynamic between Kristina and her husband regarding their roles in the business and at home. Kristina explains that due to the lack of a school bus service in their rural area, they decided that her husband would stay home to care for their young children while she managed the business. She reflects on the happiness they felt about having one parent available for their kids, and the transition felt natural as her husband was a bit burnt out from the business while she was excited to take on a more active role.
The conversation shifts to how Kristina took over the business and how her previous experiences, including her desire for international involvement, prepared her for the challenges of running a transportation company. She highlights the international aspect of the business, serving diplomats, embassies, and various international organizations. Kristina emphasizes the juggling and multitasking skills required in the transportation industry and mentions how women, due to their experience in managing households and family schedules, are naturally adept at handling the complexities of the business. She also notes that many women hold key roles within her company, from dispatchers to managers.
Navigating Challenges, Finding Strength, and Looking Ahead
In this final section, Kristina reflects on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on her business and personal life. She discusses how the pandemic was even more challenging than 9/11, as it brought business to a standstill and required refunds of significant deposits. She mentions the uncertainty of the situation and how she initially couldn’t see a way out, having to lay off a substantial number of employees, including managers. Kristina then recounts how they used the pandemic as an opportunity to revamp their processes, improve efficiency, and analyze their technology usage, resulting in a more streamlined and profitable company.
The conversation shifts to a more lighthearted tone, discussing Kristina’s extensive international travel experience, having been to around 60 countries. She talks about her language skills and how they’ve assisted her in her business endeavors. The topic then turns to a memorable business story involving an Asian delegation, where despite being the only woman present, Kristina secured a significant deal. She also teases a celebrity appearance from Kim Kardashian for an upcoming event, highlighting the exciting opportunities her business brings.
In the podcast’s closing moments, Kristina discusses her greatest accomplishment after turning 50, which was gaining the courage to leave an unhappy marriage. She also reflects on her vision for the future, expressing the hope to be retired in 10 years, possibly spending time with grandchildren and enjoying life on an island.
The conversation ends on a positive note as the host expresses her admiration for Kristina’s accomplishments and the inspiration she provides. The interview underscores Kristina’s journey through challenges, triumphs, and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Her story serves as a powerful reminder that ageless boldness can lead to extraordinary achievements and that every challenge is an opportunity to grow and thrive.
You can watch Kristina’s Full episode here:
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