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Sisterhood of the traveling…diary?

Kyra Peralte is a serial creator and entrepreneur who understands human needs and emotions, and creates products that meet those needs. Her most recent project is The Traveling Diary Tour, which connects women around the world through written entries in a shared journal. She’s also the creator of Mermaid Quest, a fantasy game for kids with a focus on representation. 

I feel like I’m drinking from this refreshing well of connection.

Kyra PeralteFounder, The Traveling Diary Tour


Julia Balick (00:00):

Hi, we are back on the building while flying podcast. I’m Julia, our producer. And on this week’s episode, Maribel speaks with Kyra Peralte the creator of the traveling diary, a notebook that is being mailed from woman to woman across the globe, collecting handwritten stories, memories, and thoughts they wish to share with each other Maribel, tell our listeners who you are and how you met Kyra.

Maribel Lara (00:22):

Sure. Hi everyone. My name is Maribel Lara. I am an SVP and head of consulting at the Sasha group, which we all know as a Vayner X company. How did I meet Kyra Peralte? Um, I actually met Kyra through Luminary, which is a global community of women. Um, for whom I happen to sit on the, the advisory board luminary started out as a physical space, bringing women together, um, who worked across industries, a variety of different roles, everything from, uh, solopreneur, uh, working at nonprofit, working in corporate, like every single level. I initially met Kyra because she attended a workshop that I hosted at luminary, and we’ve stayed in touch since. And in fact, she now sits on the same advisory board with me at that organization.

Julia Balick (01:09):

Amazing. What stood out to you about this conversation?

Maribel Lara (01:13):

So the thread that weaves through everything, Kyra touches is she is an incredibly creative person in and generates a wealth of fabulous ideas. And what stands out is that she follows through with the implementation of those ideas, right? We Kyra gets an idea for an app and she doesn’t just sit on it. Like she goes through, she names it, she figures out what she wants, that thing to look like. You know, she’ll figure out development and it’ll get done and it’ll get done really efficiently. And that is the rare thing to find. Um, you know, you and I were talking about this, like we all come up with ideas. I probably come up with several business ideas every year. I do not follow through with any of them. So, you know, she’s, she’s an entrepreneur entrepreneur in, in so many senses of that word, but that dedication to follow through with an idea and bring it to life is, is definitely the standout.

Julia Balick (02:12):

Totally agreed. Now let’s not keep our listeners waiting any longer. Let’s dive into Maribel’s conversation with Kyra.

Maribel Lara (02:20):

Let’s go

Speaker 3 (02:25):

Welcome to building while flying a sasha group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies.

Maribel Lara (02:37):

Welcome to the show. Kyra,

Kyra Peralte (02:39):

Thank you so much for having me here. Maribel. I have been looking forward to this conversation. I love talking about the traveling diary.

Maribel Lara (02:48):

Um, well, I’m so excited for people to hear the details, but also to hear about you, the brain behind the traveling diary. So Kira and I met through luminary, which is a global inclusive community and co-working space for women. Um, I was immediately struck by your creative thinking and also your execution. Those two things don’t always come together. Mm.

Kyra Peralte (03:10):


Maribel Lara (03:10):

But you exemplified both of them really early on in our conversation. So I wanna start by talking about your, our journey before we get into the specific specifics about the traveling diary. So like what should people know about you and your journey?

Kyra Peralte (03:26):

So I got into creating, um, a very long time ago as sort of like a side gig from the work I did, um, on wall street, my nine to five, just paid my bills. But outside of that, I was making things and, and selling products and just experimenting around community, particularly with women. And in 2010, that was my first product. I actually, um, created this interactive experience. I went on the streets of, uh, Brooklyn and the city in like sold these little pockets of interactive activities, like hot cakes. Um, and that gave me a taste for just creating stuff and getting it to the finish line. It, it just became addictive to just

Maribel Lara (04:13):

What, what was in those kits.

Kyra Peralte (04:14):

It was, um, these nostalgic kits, like you remember the paper dolls, like, yeah.

Maribel Lara (04:20):

Oh yeah. I have a Frida Callow, one that I’m like waiting to get my hands on.

Kyra Peralte (04:25):

Yes, I have, I, I collected two of them at an airport, um, in Amsterdam a few years ago. And um, this kit, it was shaped like that, you know, like it had the, the rectangle yep. Edges. Okay. And then on the inside was this book that had some pages where upside down that you only read at night and they tell you to do these quirky things. Like you can tear out pages and just do a lot of quirky things to smell the roses in life. Yeah. And they sold like hot cakes and people at first thought that it was food because it was called monkey bread.

Maribel Lara (05:00):

Ah, okay.

Kyra Peralte (05:01):

And, and I would have to explain, you know, that if, if the reason it’s called monkey bread is because monkey bread is a dish, uh, dessert that I used to make as a kid growing up and with all the interlocking pieces. And, and to me, it just feels like in life, there’s so many parts of our lives that are us interlocked that way, that impact and influence each other. Yep. And I thought that that would’ve been the perfect name to describe community.

Maribel Lara (05:31):

So there, I mean, such a magical story behind the name. And then there’s also this element of like a tactile experience and getting people to do something that’s not connected. So I’m, I’m gonna put a pin in that, cuz we’re gonna go back to it. It’s a recurring theme in so much of what you do when I first met you, you were, um, CEO and founder of a company called roof heads. Yes. Can you tell us what roof heads is? And roof heads is in the tech space and it was real estate related. Um, and so I’m gonna ask you to make the, like, how did, you’ve just told us about this experience. That is so the opposite of that. So how did we get to roof heads?

Kyra Peralte (06:11):

Yes. So roof heads came about because I was in the market looking for real estate, trying to become a landlord, which was on my list of goals to meet. And the whole process was so discombobulated. Yeah. That I thought, wow, something needs to be done about this. Um, at the time I was working in operations as my a day job. And so when you’re in an environment, um, like working in operations, you’re cons, you’re constantly looking at ways to improve processes. You’re, re-engineering things you’re looking at ways to improve stuff. And so quite naturally that filters over into other parts of your life. Yeah. And so I was also learning UX design, ended up creating a prototype for, um, people that were just getting into real estate to have something to use because my husband and I created our own thing to use, but I had no idea that other folks would want to use that

Maribel Lara (07:12):


Kyra Peralte (07:12):

Right. And so once I started to do research, I found out that they did. And so when they started to ask, if they could use the prototype that I created, I thought, why don’t I stop saying no, this was just for research and just make it. And so that’s how roof had started. I was like, okay, you know, I’ve proven that folks need this. Why don’t I go ahead and just create it? And that’s how Ru has, was born.

Maribel Lara (07:40):

Amazing. Right. You had an idea. So many of us have those moments where we’re like, this thing should exist. Most of us don’t go and create it.

Maribel Lara (07:51):

You went, you created it. Um, and you made it available to other people. So thank you. On behalf of all the people that benefited from the of roof heads, excuse me. Um, alright, so let’s get to the reason we are here today because that was three years ago. Um, we went a long time, not seeing each other because of the pandemic. Right. We were seeing each other pretty regularly in the luminary space because we’re both based in New York city. Um, so much has happened for really, for everyone. Um, you took what happened in the pandemic and how you were feeling, and you came up with another really innovative idea, um, that is really such a beautiful experience as somebody who’s gotten to partake in it. So tell us, uh, where the idea for the traveling diary came from.

Kyra Peralte (08:44):

Well, the traveling diary, um, started when I was at home, trying to adjust my lifestyle to the new circumstances, um, and make all the shifts that were needed as a, as a mom having my two kids at home, my husband, um, working from home, all of us under the same roof and my kids, they were five and two. So the two year old needed to be potty trained. And I don’t know if you know what it’s like to deal with a two year old boy that needs to be potty

Maribel Lara (09:19):

Trained. Oh boy, I don’t.

Kyra Peralte (09:23):

But trying to get him to, um, go to the potty while I’m also trying to be present for meetings with potential investors, um, communicate with development teams while my oldest son who was five at the time wanted breakfast, oatmeal, you know, was their thing. And, um, it was a lot, it was a lot to manage.

Maribel Lara (09:48):

I can only imagine, like my heart goes out to everyone who is a parent and has had to manage so much coming at the same time. Right? Like, yes, you, prior to the pandemic, there was a bit of an opportunity to compartmentalize, but everyone being at home at the same time did not allow that

Kyra Peralte (10:08):

It did not. It certainly did not. And, and I wasn’t in the mood to pretend anymore. Um, not that, not that I had to pretend before, but I felt like once we moved to being at home, we were still showing up with our makeup on, um, nice backgrounds and wanting our kids not to, to interrupt and our kids just weren’t getting it. They, you know, they wanted to come in and show you a picture. Right. They just drew or, um, get some snacks. And, um, and I just was not, I, I just not in the mood to pretend that this was not my reality. And so when I leaned into that and I embraced that, um, what it did was it also allowed me to think about what types of decisions, um, what types of calculations that other women in the world might be making at this time.

Kyra Peralte (11:23):

Because even though we would say, oh, it’s really challenging right now, or, um, I’m having a hard time. Yeah. Yeah. And we’ll laugh things off, but I really wanted to know as if I was a fly on the wall. Hmm. That, that response of, oh, it’s tough. Oh, it’s challenging the lighthearted jokes about it. They were cool, but I really, really wanted to know what was going on. Um, and the only thing that I could think of, um, in terms of trying to find out, given the circumstances. Right, right. Like I, I could have just said to a stranger that I met online, like, Hey, would you be interested in, in, but I wasn’t interested in that. I wasn’t in just in talking that

Maribel Lara (12:13):

Way. You didn’t want a series of zoom meetings. No,

Kyra Peralte (12:17):

No. Not at all. In fact, when I thought about hearing their experiences in my mind, listening to them and, and, and, and really hearing about their experiences reminding me of playing a record.

Maribel Lara (12:32):


Kyra Peralte (12:33):

Because I had, you know, I collect vinyl records. Okay. And so like when you put that nickel or quarter on the needle and you just listen and you hear the staticy sound, and you’re just paying attention to the words and all the instruments. And you’re actually, um, interested in reading the small print on the album cover and looking at the arts and wondering what went into that. That’s the type of experience I wanted to have when it came to hearing their stories,

Maribel Lara (13:06):

A really like physical aging experience.

Kyra Peralte (13:09):

Yes. Yes. And, and the only way I could think of that type of experience was writing mine in a diary and sharing it with a stranger.

Maribel Lara (13:21):

So now tell us how it works. Like, what are the, like the logistics of getting this diary? I happen to have one that I have to give back to you, but you gave me the opportunity to go back and read entries since I got it. But tell our, listen, how the journal works, how the diary works.

Kyra Peralte (13:37):

Okay. So women sign up to get the diary and they’re put in this queue called the snail mail queue and they get the diary and they have it for three days. Now I skipped over a part that’s really important when they sign up to get on that snail mail queue that snail mail queue eight list is about two to six months. It could get to nine months max. I try to go no more than nine months, the amount of time it takes to have a baby. Um, you know, and, and, and there’s nothing to apologize there, um, because to apologize for there, because the diary travels hand to hand through the mail, that’s the only way. Um, and so they get it and it arrives. Um, they have it for three days and they get to read all the stories written inside. And the diary could have gone to several different countries, places before it got to them. And they read all the stories from those stops and they will get to add their own and then take pictures of their pages, put it back in the mail to the next person. And I provide them that information. Yep. And it just keeps going until it fills up. And when it fills up, I reach out and I say, Hey, the diary you

Maribel Lara (14:55):

Old in,

Kyra Peralte (14:56):

I got it. Yeah.

Maribel Lara (14:58):

It’s a, it really is such like an exciting message to get that it is on the way to you. Um, and it real, I am old enough to remember physical mail. Um, I am old enough to remember, like at least wanting a pen pal, I don’t know that I ever really had one. Right. I had cousins who didn’t leave ne live near us and would write letters. And those were always so precious. Right? Yes. You would save them. You would go back and you would read because it was insight into like what that person was going through it that given time. Yes. And you really successfully captured that spirit and that energy in this. Right. I didn’t know any of the women who contributed to this diary before I did. And it didn’t matter at all. Right. It was, it was a way to jump into an intimate conversation with people that you had never met.

Maribel Lara (15:49):

Um, but it also then opened you up sharing things that you might not share in a physical conversation. Right. It felt like there wasn’t so much on the line. You weren’t trying to impress anyone. It really was just about sharing where you were at that moment in time. Um, so, so thank you for creating it. You know, I’m so grateful to have been a part of it. So I will want, I wanna talk about, um, how it’s grown, because it really started as the seed of an idea, um, and really fulfilling a need for you. Right. A sense of curiosity that you had about what experiences other women were going through at that given time, but this has grown tremendously. Yeah. So talk to us about how it’s grown, right? Like how many journals are there now? How many diaries are there because there’s more than one and how many women have participated thus far and, or on are on the wait list.

Kyra Peralte (16:44):

Yeah. So, you know, you’re right. It started off with me just being curious. And I thought, oh, if I could give five women, five women that I don’t know from places, um, different places in the world, um, that might scratch this hitch. And as a wait list grew, I was like, I don’t, I, I, I can’t stop this. I can’t stop this yet. Um, because the feedback was exactly what you just, um, people were really having this, um, intimate, cathartic, um, special experience with the stories when they received it. And so I allowed it to continue to grow and, um, up until 2021 this year, um, may of this year,

Maribel Lara (17:36):

Actually I know every year the LA right, the last two years feel like five years at peace. So I get it.

Kyra Peralte (17:41):

Yes, yes. Yeah. So earlier this year, um, I was up in, I got to like 115 people and I thought, wow, this is great. I got a hundred people. Oh my goodness. I would never thought that I would reach a hundred, but then the Washington post read an article about it. And it just mushroomed overnight to like 800. And then we got to a thousand and then 1500 and it’s just been growing. Wow. Um, we’re currently at 1500 on the wait list, four diaries. I have 38 diaries in circulation and they’re all over. And, and it’s just been one of the most beautiful ways to connect. I feel like I’m drinking from this refreshing well of connection. It’s just so, ah, it’s, it’s like fresh water in the middle of like chaos and, um, and other things, uh, yeah.

Maribel Lara (18:40):

I wanna read a quote from you that I think states it so beautifully. Um, this is an act that was born out of a certain part of me that long took a neck to humanity, humanness, compassion, genuineness, things that make us alive. I reached for those things in a way that I didn’t know others would respond to as passionately as they did. And you know, they are, they continue to the more press you do, the more attention it’s gonna get. Have you revised what your, what your dream is? Cause I can’t imagine that you thought this was gonna happen when you first set out. So, so what’s your vision for it now? Like what can you share about the vision and how the community has really extended beyond the physical diary?

Kyra Peralte (19:27):

Yeah. So one of the things that we do while you’re way waiting for the diary, uh, we have these campfires and people can come on a zoom and we just have a campfire. We have a virtual campfire, I play my guitar. Um, we read stories, um, poems from poets that are in the community and people actually get to connect with one another and see face is behind the handwriting. That’s in the books. Some folks join campfires and they haven’t written. And they’re just like there to meet folks and, and understand what it’s like to

Maribel Lara (20:02):

Get. So that’s their intro,

Kyra Peralte (20:04):

That’s their intro. And then others that are there that have written, they share about that experience. And it’s been, it’s been, it’s feels so magical to be in that space because it’s like, you know, you come in and you’ve never met these people, but you feel like you are all connected through this shared experience. Um, and so pushing out more experiences like that is what I’m working on right now, great, is to create more of that community and helping people to connect in this way beyond the pages is what I call it. And so a series of those will be coming out. Um, women have also expressed that they would like their stories shared mm. Some don’t want their story shared yet. Um, but some would like their story shared, like in a book. And so that is also in the works

Maribel Lara (20:55):


Kyra Peralte (20:56):

For 2022. And then obviously with watching it unfold and evolve in this way, there’s so many different ways you can think of, um, when it comes to sharing content and connecting people yeah. Through it. Um, and keeping the, um, integrity of it, the soul of it, um, because people really feel like the space that they’ve co-created with. And, and when I say Rangers, they don’t feel like strangers anymore. It’s it’s created a sisterhood. Yeah. And, and they really enjoy the space that they’ve co-created with fellow sisters across the world.

Maribel Lara (21:38):

Yeah. It’s, it is really just remarkable. And that would be enough of an accomplishment for anyone over the course of the last year and a half, but you’ve got another one. So I’m not gonna let you leave, um, without talking about mermaid quest. Yes. Right. What is mermaid quest?

Kyra Peralte (22:00):

So mermaid quest is a game that I created with these little brown mermaids, um, that are trying to get home safely. I created it because I wanted this space to escape to, to make something, um, I guess that’s a pattern you could see, right? Yeah. You’re,

Maribel Lara (22:20):

You’re a creator.

Kyra Peralte (22:22):

Yeah. So I created this game so that, um, it, it gave me space to make something that I would want to play. Um, especially like if I was, you know, when I was growing up, I would have died to see a brown me. Um, and, and I thought, what would it take to create a game? Like how much needs to go into it? And so I gave myself 45 days to put a game. I said, if it takes me longer than that, I can’t do it because this was around the time where I was taking inventory saying, okay, what can I do? What can I go to, right. That played into me, stepping away from roof hats, saying, I can no longer wear this hat because the other responsibilities in my life are calling for me in a stronger way. Mm. And, and so while that’s happening, I thought, okay, if, if this thing takes longer than 45 days to work on, I don’t want this. And so I managed to be able to get this created and launched in 45 days, um, with a team that I, I, um, you know, got connected to overseas, and basically these mermaids, they, uh, swim home, collecting these pearls and they get home and you just take them to the next level and the next level, and, and, uh, and through all these different boards. And it was just so much fun to work on a project where you actually get to create these little characters that you kind of wish were you?

Maribel Lara (23:54):

Yeah. Well, I, I have to shout out the concept of creating something for kids of color, right. That kids like you and I were to be able to see themselves. We don’t have enough of those experiences. Um, and so many parents were looking for different ways, right. For kids to be able to engage over the last year and a half, because we were managing so much. And because we were relying on technology. So thank you on behalf of, right. Like everyone in my family who has kids who wants their kids to feel more seen, I think it’s a, a beautiful game. Um, but also the idea that anyone feels like they’re seen is another powerful moment for you. So if our listeners take anything away, it’s that you understand, and you tap into human needs, right. And human emotions. And to me, that’s as much at the core of your success as your curiosity and your execution, right. You’re not just an ideas person. You’re also an, uh, the operations background comes into play because so many of us will say like, I’m gonna work on that idea, but you put parameters around it, you create guardrails and you make space for the things that are priorities. Right? Yeah. So thank you for also reminding me of that lesson of like, we can’t just continue to add things. Sometimes we need to make space for the things that are calling to us.

Kyra Peralte (25:22):

Mm. Thank you so much for that. You’re awesome.

Maribel Lara (25:27):

Kyra. It has been such a pleasure to be able to have this conversation with you. As I said earlier, I am so excited for the building while flying audience to get to know you better.

Kyra Peralte (25:37):

Mm. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I love, love, love talking about these things and creating.

Maribel Lara (25:45):

All right. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Kyra Peralte (25:47):

Thank you.

Speaker 3 (25:50):

Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Speaker 6 (26:01):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more

Speaker 3 (26:16):

Original music by Fulton street music group.


Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Drawing on human connection to create solutions. 

Kyra Peralte is a serial creator and entrepreneur who understands human needs and emotions, and creates products that meet those needs. Her most recent project is The Traveling Diary Tour, which connects women around the world through written entries in a shared journal. She’s also the creator of Mermaid Quest, a fantasy game for kids with a focus on representation. 

In this episode of Building While Flying, Kyra joins Maribel Lara, SVP of Consulting at The Sasha Group, to talk about her journey, where she started, and the stories behind her work. Kyra shares how challenges she faced inspired her products, and how adjusting to the pandemic lifestyle inspired The Traveling Diary Tour. She truly draws on human connection and emotions to create solutions for challenges faced by humans around the world. 

Other in-flight topics:

  • Kyra’s background
  • Adjusting to pandemic lifestyle changes
  • Creating products that solve problems
  • Origin of The Traveling Diary
  • Vision for the future of The Traveling Diary
  • Creation of the Mermaid Quest game
  • …and more!

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