The People Behind EpicVacay
We specialize in curating once-in-a-lifetime transformational travel experiences that are truly EPIC!
Jess Barron, CEO & Co-Founder
After over 15 years spent working in the world of technology, wellness and online media at companies including LIVESTRONG.COM, Beachbody, Yahoo! and Microsoft, Jess realized something essential was missing from many people’s lives: vacations away from work filled with experiences of pure joy, meaningful connections and exploration of the most legendary places in the world. Jess has travelled to over 30 countries, and she decided to create EpicVacay to share the gift of cultural immersive travel with a savvy audience seeking adventures far more profound and memorable than the typical vacation. Life-changing trips to Croatia, the Galapagos, Peru, Russia, Mexico, the Maldives, and Italy inspired Jess to combine her passions for travel and wellness with her talent for helping others unlock pure lasting joy, fun, growth and fulfillment in their lives.
Chris Strimbu, Creative Lead & Co-Founder
By the time he was 25 years old, Chris had lived in over 10 cities including Tampa, West Palm Beach, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Brussels, Belgium. Classically trained in graphic design, he is inspired by the colors, flavors and sounds of places all over the globe. Chris understands well the transformative power of travel. During a yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico, he was inspired to collaborate with friends in creating an art show as a relief effort for the victims of the 2015 Nepal earthquake. An avid photographer, Chris has an eye for spotting, capturing and sharing beautiful moments. He’s spent his corporate career at media and technology companies including The Los Angeles Times, Modern Luxury Media, Yahoo!, Defy and Google. His passions include motorcycles, karaoke, Burning Man, whiskey and traveling the globe creating unforgettable experiences.
Jen E. Smith, Yoga Lead
An avid yoga practitioner and indoor cyclist since the early ‘90s, Jen took her first yoga 200-hour teacher training course in 2001 through Julian Walker and Rick Gould at Santa Monica Yoga. She followed this with another 200-hour teacher training at YogaWorks with Maty Ezraty and Lisa Walford. Her third 200-hour teacher training was with Stephanie Keach at Asheville Yoga Center. I guess you could say that Jen enjoys being a student. Teaching classes since 2001, she has also participated in and taught at teacher trainings, workshops and retreats. An event planner for both YogaWorks and Exhale Center for Sacred Movement, Jen has planned over 150 retreats for herself and countless other teachers. In addition to this, Jen has held group fitness management positions at several Equinox gym locations since 2004.
Elise Joan, Yoga Lead
Co-creator of the best-selling inaugural yoga program for Beachbody, Elise is an innovative and inspiring yoga teacher and wellness expert who has also had a theatrical career on Broadway in New York City. When a vocal injury abruptly ended her theater career, Elise entered her first yoga studio and found hope, power and a profound soul connection. Inspired to take a major life challenge and turn it into a calling, Elise committed herself to sharing the transformational power of yoga with the world. She is known for her joy-infused sequencing which awakens the spirit and makes her classes and retreats come alive. Elise’s athletic flows intensely challenge the body, compassionately open the heart and broaden the mind. Elise is a passionate and energetic teacher who empowers students through her real life experiences to fully indulge in the limitless beauty and divine energy of life.
Daisha Graf, Yoga Lead
After a back-up dance career with some of the top hip-hop, pop, and R&B acts including Rihanna, Diddy, Pitbull, TLC, Santigold, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott, Ariana Grande, Big Boi, and Beyonce, Daisha completed her 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga teacher training at Yoga to the People in New York City. Teaching dance, yoga, and spin across the globe has given her a platform to transform lives through the power of positivity. Daisha has had roles in films such as Step Up 2, Step up 3D, and the VH1 original movie pilot and series “The Breaks.” Her music caught the attention of Jeff Robinson of MBK Entertainment and L.A Reid himself, who signed her on the spot. Daisha is also an influencer and ambassador for companies like Puma, Sorel, Pantene, Miss Jessie’s, Devacurl, and more. Daisha is signed to Wilhelmina Sports and Fitness, as well as Brand Models for modeling. With her sister Alicia Graf Mack she co-founded the Daisha and Alicia Graf Arts Collective, committed to enriching lives through the arts.
Dino Ivančić, Croatian History Expert
Dino has been called The Funniest Man in Split, Croatia. A former history teacher with degrees in Croatian History and Italian, he has been working in tourism for the past 17 years. In 2017, he was named as the Best Tourist Guide by the Croatian Ministry of Tourism. Fluent in four languages: English, Croatian, Italian and Spanish, Dino is an incredible storyteller who will make history come alive before your eyes. Not only is he an expert in ancient history, Dino is also incredibly knowledgeable about pop culture and will be thrilled to show you all the “Game of Thrones” filming sites in Dalmatia. A life-long resident from a native family of Split, love for his hometown and region is in his blood. Dino is also incredibly passionate about travel. He spends at least 2 months of every year outside Croatia exploring the world. So far, he has visited more than 50 countries. Some of his favorite destinations so far include Kenya, Thailand, the Galapagos and Turkey.