Glamour’s Women to Watch series spotlights women who are redefining what it means to be an influencer. Yes, they have “personal brands” and rapidly growing social followings—but in some way, each of these women is pushing the boundaries of what an influencer should look like, act like, or stand for. Their very presence is broadening the scope, which gives them the space to have actual influence: These women are changing conversations, dictating trends, and creating style. And they’re just getting started.
27Travels, the popular blog and Instagram account started by real-life couple Gabi and Shanna, didn’t get its namesake from their ages or birthdays. No, 27 is the date of their anniversary, which is fitting because 27Travels is about more than just Gabi and Shanna’s gorgeous getaways. It’s about their love.
“As lesbians in travel, we don’t see ourselves represented a lot,” Gabi tells me. “I think it’s gotten better over the last few years, for sure. But still, you’ll pick up an LGBTQ+ magazine, and the first thing on the cover will be two gay men. And you’re like, ‘Okay, this is awesome, but it doesn’t represent me.’ I’m sure there are other people in the LGBTQ+ community who are nonbinary or transgender who probably feel similar to us.”
Gabi and Shanna—who met during New York Pride weekend in 2015—are doing their part to boost representation. Their Instagram account is all about showing queer women that it’s possible to be out and proud and to travel the world with the person you love.
“I think a lot of people just don’t realize it’s possible, or maybe they feel safe traveling within their state or within their country,” Shanna says. “I think a lot of people are scared, rightfully so, to travel somewhere abroad because you don’t know the laws of that country. You don’t know what people are going to think of you. In the LGBTQ+ travel space, we’re going out there, and we’re experiencing it. And we’re saying, ‘Hey, we went to this place. It was super cool. No one there cared that we were a couple; this was our experience.’”
Of course, as cisgender white women, Shanna and Gabi recognize their privilege; traveling may look different for them than for other LGBTQ+ people. But their goal is to publish as much accurate information about their adventures as possible for queer folks to make their own decisions about traveling.
“We’re saying, ‘This is our experience. Take that the way you will. This is how we felt when we were there,’” Shanna says. “We were just in Texas and people were like, ‘Oh, my God, I didn’t think Texas was welcoming.’ And we’re like, ‘You know what? We have not been to the whole state, but in this one area of Texas, there were lots of Pride flags. There were LGBTQ+-owned businesses. We felt totally fine there.’ So maybe they might be surprised at certain things.”
Gabi and Shanna were certainly surprised at the reaction to 27Travels. The brand was born out of their first date, when the two women realized they both love to travel. With their creative backgrounds—Gabi is a photographer, Shanna a videographer—they were able to make social media content with skill and detail.
But it was only for themselves at first. Originally the 27Travels account was private. “We were kind of embarrassed,” Gabi says. “Maybe my brother would find it and make fun of us or whatever. But it quickly became something we made it public.”
That’s when everything changed. As supportive comments started rolling in, Gabi and Shanna realized they were onto something; maybe 27Travels could become their full-time jobs.
“We started getting a lot of messages on our account from people around the world who were basically like, ‘I saw your page, and it made me realize I could be happy too. I didn’t know that I could have a happy life.’” Gabi says. “That’s so powerful and so important. That’s when Shanna and I really started to take it seriously and see the business side of it as well. We could be helping people and putting tips out there.”
Publishing tips and also raising awareness. With 27Travels comes a public platform, and Gabi and Shanna are keen on using theirs for good. They’re big supporters of the Lesbian Bar Project, which aims to preserve, celebrate, and support the few remaining lesbian bars in America. (There are only 21—that needs to change.)
“Lesbian bars are fun places for queer women to hang out where they feel safe,” Gabi says. “And the fact there are so few of them is really sad. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact there’s this stigma around queer women; that we like to be home with our cats, on the couch, watching Netflix or whatever. They feel these spaces are maybe not necessary.”
Adds Shanna, “Gabi and I met at a lesbian bar, because we both felt like we were in a space where we could be ourselves. As those become less and less, of course you can meet people other ways, but it’s nice to have a choice of what space you could go to and actually meet people who are like you.”
And 27Travels is one of those spaces—albeit a virtual one. It takes a lot to run it successfully. Working side by side with your romantic partner comes with its own set of challenges. Gabi and Shanna open up about that and more, below.
Glamour: What time do you get up in the morning?
Gabi: If I could pick any time, maybe like 9, 9:30. I could wake up later, but Shanna always wakes me up.
Shanna: So this morning I got up at 7. I would say my average is between 7 and 8, but yeah, Gabi will not wake up unless I’m like, “Wake up, wake up.”
Are you a breakfast person?
Gabi: No, I like coffee in the morning, an iced coffee. But breakfast, I could skip it. It’s not my favorite meal.
Shanna: I actually really like breakfast, but I’m vegan, so it’s really hard to find good breakfast outside of home. Gabi is a great cook. So whenever she makes me breakfast and it’s vegan, it’s amazing. But it’s hard still, at least in New York City, to find good vegan breakfast options. We’ve been other places where it’s been better, but in New York City, I think they need to work on their vegan breakfast.
What’s a bit of career advice you’d give someone in need?
Gabi: Be yourself, and do things the way you want to do it. If you always try to see what everyone else is doing and do what everyone else is doing, you’re not being uniquely yourself. And I personally don’t think you’ll ever succeed that way. It’s all about being authentically you.
Shanna: Stuff takes time. We started our Instagram account five and a half years ago. We didn’t get to where we are today in six months. Of course, things can happen. TikTok is really good at making people go viral, but it does take time to be able to do this stuff. So keep working at it. Don’t give up; put in the effort that needs to be put in. But you also don’t need to put it all in, all crammed together. You can do it over time. I think the longer you stick with it, the better you’ll feel.
Was there a moment that you realized, “Okay, I might actually be very good at my job”?
Gabi: No, I guess there wasn’t a moment because I always thought I was good at what we were doing. I feel like we just are doing what we want for fun because we want to, and because of that, no, there was never an aha moment. I think there was just a point where we took it more seriously.
Shanna: I kind of agree with Gabi. I feel like I was always a videographer and a video editor, and I always felt like my work was good. I don’t know, maybe we’re a little confident. But I feel like in terms of social media and influencer [work], are we good at that? I feel like that’s something we always struggle with because we always want to make sure the information we’re putting out there is right. And that we’re making sure we’re being true to ourselves. But I feel like in terms of content creation, we always thought we were good at that. That’s what we were doing in our jobs before this.
What’s your biggest challenge at work?
Gabi: I guess I would say each other. We work amazing together as a team. Our relationship and our jobs are so closely intertwined, which can be an amazing thing. We get to experience so many amazing things together, but it also means sometimes we can butt heads on something that if you could make all the decisions on your own, you wouldn’t butt heads about. And then we have to be able to be like, “Okay, well, that’s a work disagreement, not a relationship disagreement.”
Shanna: I think working together is a challenge, but also the fact that when you’re in this kind of work, you’re never not working. We don’t go to work at 9 and leave at 5 and we’re done. Even though it’s super fun and we absolutely love what we do, it’s sometimes a challenge to not be able to turn off the switch.
What’s your favorite low-stakes treat after a productive day?
Gabi: If I’m having a stressful day, I’m about to get me some really good food. I’m about to go get a burrito and sit and enjoy my meal. That always makes me feel a little more zen inside.
Shanna: Watching documentaries. I really love learning things. There’s this series on Netflix called Explained, and it explains different, random things. The last one we watched was about time, and the one before that was about dancing or something. I just love sitting down and watching a documentary and learning something new and being like, “Oh, my God, I never knew this before.”
What’s your go-to thank-you gift?
Gabi: I like to make people things. So for me, a thank-you gift would be making them a drawing or sending them a handmade sticker. During COVID, I would just come up with new random projects all the time. That’s something I always do and drive Shanna crazy with. I was like, “I made everyone magnets. I’m mailing people rainbow magnets.”
Shanna: We get a lot of stuff sent to us from brands, and sometimes we don’t use all of it. So a thank-you gift would be something from what we call our free bin. So like, “Oh, my God, thank you so much for watching our cat; here is this nice skin-care product.”
What’s your typical email sign-off?
Shanna: I’m the one doing all the admin stuff because Gabi hates paperwork, which is fine because I actually love doing paperwork. I’m very organized. My sign-off is just, like, “best.” And then I sign both of our names even though it’s really just me answering an email.
If you weren’t doing your current job right now, what do you think you’d be doing?
Gabi: If we weren’t content creators right now, I’d probably be doing something eerily similar. I’ve always been an artist; I’m a professional photographer. I’m just an all-around artist. I feel like I’d be doing a lot more illustration stuff probably, but who knows? I’m the kind of person that needs to be in a creative field. That’s the only way I thrive. So I would just be doing something similar and creative.
Shanna: I used to be a competitive dancer, so I would love to say I would be a dancer somewhere, but I don’t know if that’s actually possible. Other than that, I probably would still be doing video and videography work, but probably just for a company versus doing it myself because that’s what I was doing before we did 27Travels.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.Internet Explorer Channel Network