Awesome Atlanta Parent: Rebeka Self, owner of Georgia Glamping Company
While writing our kid-friendly guide to yurts and glamping, we discovered not only a fascinating business called Georgia Glamping Company but also a fascinating business owner–Rebeka Self of Cumming. Besides being a wife and mother, she also home schools her two daughters–Sydney, age seven, and Cameron, almost five. While husband Nathan continues his day job and helps with the business, Rebeka works as the primary point person for Georgia Glamping Company. We chatted with Rebeka to find out the answer to that age-old question people love to ask super moms: “How do you do it all?”
What made you think to start a glamping company?
We were driving back from a trip to Florida. We had just had a not great experience in a hotel. It was loud and it was just a not a peaceful vacation. We were brainstorming vacation ideas for our family. Nathan and I talked about our vacations as kids. My family did a lot of camping. His family usually stayed in nice hotels. That made us think of glamping. We had heard of some of the glamping companies in the UK and Australia and knew it had started to take off in Florida and California. We talked about how that would be such a great idea. So we started doing research and realized Georgia didn’t have anything like that and it is such a perfect place for it.
How does it work?
It’s a little bit like Airbnb. People can go on our website and pick their dates. We have permanent glamp sites at Shady Grove Park on Lake Lanier. Those have more availability and then we have pop up sites at two Georgia state parks—Unicoi and Vogel. They book, pick their tent and then there’s a whole list of add-ons like kayaks, bicycles, a giant Jenga game, a s’mores kit–anything that customizes their vacation and makes it unique. When they show up, everything is ready. They just have to bring their clothes, their toiletries and their food.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Basically we wake up and we try to get our homeschooling done in the morning. We start around 8 or 8:30 and we usually do school until about lunch time. That’s when I switch gears and we head out to Shady Grove and the kids and our puppy get to explore and play around. We have stuff to do there like changing campsites over. The girls think they’re little interior decorators so they love to help. I also have to answer a lot of phone calls for the company, people asking questions.
What has been the best part of owning your own business?
Hearing our guests’ reactions. We love to hear from people. We love going in and reading the guest book that we leave in each tent. We have had such positive feedback. People are just pouring their hearts out, ‘we really needed this vacation, needed to get away and play family games.’ It just warms our hearts because that’s really what we wanted.
What has been the hardest part?
It’s exhausting. It feels like there are a lot of balls up in the air. It has definitely been overwhelming at times. We have put blood, sweat and tears—a lot of tears–into this business. Since we started and things got busy, we have had to limit the extracurricular activities that our daughters do. They each get to pick two things in any given season. We found that anymore than that was just too much for our crazy schedule and it has really helped since we made that decision.
What do the kids think about all of this?
They have been on board since day one. They tell everyone we meet about our glamping company. They even hand out our business cards. They take a lot of ownership, they tell people it’s ‘our company.’