Yellow Doors Hostel is more than how it’s described on most reviews you’ll find online: cozy, inviting, warm, and an iteration of these emotional characterizations. It’s a love letter detailing the human capacity to rise from ruins. The first hostel in Tacloban was built soon after Typhoon Haiyan, and its facets from design to intention revolve around the concepts of revival and repurpose. Tacloban natives 30 year-old Trixie Palami and her brother Jack are the ringleaders to this soul-driven enterprise. Get to know their story and make sure to include Yellow Doors and Tacloban in your travel plans this year.
Female Network: How was it like for you growing up?
Trixie: I’m second to the youngest in a brood of 16, so conflict and competition are not something I’m foreign to. Coming from a big family meant constant exposure to different opinions, which in turn meant early training in finding my own voice if I wanted to be heard.
I read somewhere that one of the best things parents can do for their children is to let them be bored. This certainly helped me and my siblings become more imaginative with how we entertained ourselves. We buried ourselves in books and games we’d made up so that allowed me to properly develop my imagination and become more resourceful. It’s a skill that’s been handy ever since I started my own business.
Growing up, my main interests were books — which was the only means of ‘travel’ we could afford. I also loved the outdoors even then, I was bit of a tomboy growing up, I enjoyed climbing trees and being outside in the sun more than playing with dolls.
FN: What were the influences and decisions that led you to the conceptualization of Yellow Doors Hostel?
T: I would say my love for traveling and connecting with people while doing so. I’m lucky to have found that shared passion with my brother Jake (co-owner of YDH). We’ve never traveled together, funnily enough, but we always knew we wanted to carve the same space for the traveling community in our hometown.
Post-Haiyan, Jake stumbled upon this building while helping a volunteer look for a place to rent. This was when prices in Tacloban and the demand for accommodations were at an all time high. We decided to rent the space and fix it for volunteer friends who would be coming and needing a place to stay. It wasn’t long before it became a hub or meeting place for backpackers and young volunteers in the region.
FN: Why did you choose to establish it in Tacloban?
T: The story of Yellow Doors is intrinsically tied to the story of New Tacloban. We are in awe of the strength and resilience of our people, and our greatest hope is that everyone gets to create their own version of "Yellow Doors.” That is, that everyone gets to make something new, maybe something even beautiful out of loss and ruins, whether it be a new business venture, a new career path, exploring new skills and interests, and finally acting on long-buried aspirations.
FN: What keeps you driven to succeed?
T: Knowing that I haven’t created my best work yet.
FN: Can you name your mentors and role models?
T: It’s a collection of people and circumstances. I was never short of helpers and inspirations.
My parents, who taught me early on that my net worth is not my life’s worth, which was a liberating mindset to allow space for play and curiosity and imagination and risks — all important muscles to exercise when making a decision such as starting a business.
Samantha Brown whom I’ve been watching travel the world for the last decade. I remember asking myself as a twentysomething: How do I get travelers like her to come to my side of the world?
My brother, who is a natural at connecting with people; he showed me what kind of atmosphere I wanted to foster in whatever space I created.
The miserable French woman I met while at a bus station in Cambodia. “After two weeks of traveling alone,” she said, “I want a place to call home.” It reminded me that even travelers need roots and a community to belong to.
All these were my becoming.
Also, very recently, I’ve come to admire Ilse Crawford who is awe-inspiring in the way she emphasizes empathy and the human experience in how she designs a space. Connection is key for her, and she creates spaces that get people to interact and feel at home. That’s one of the feelings we know we want our guests to have when they’re in Yellow Doors Hostel.
FN: What are the challenges, advantages, and learnings from starting your own business?
T: Complacency is a big threat to a growing business. It’s important to keep innovating and plan ahead. Market conditions changed two years after we opened, we had to rethink our strategy to suit the changed circumstances.
FN: What are interesting features of Yellow Doors?
T: We have a stay-for-free program! Got skills? Whether you want to do an improv session, share your music at the rooftop bar, or conduct workshops for local and other guests, you can do it here in exchange for a free bed. We can also throw in a couple of beers your way, haha. We want to encourage budget travelers to discover the gems of Leyte and Samar, and at the same time enrich their travel experience while in the hostel.
FN: What do you advise women who want to start a business in the hospitality industry?
T: It’s not enough to want to start a business, there needs to be something strong and deep driving that desire. In other words, your WHY must be big enough to weather the crises—because there will be a lot of them!