For a first date on the 4th of July in Colorado years ago, Annie Pezza watched fireworks from a spot on the roof of a parking garage.
Sparks must have flown above those autos on that night, too.
Annie and her Independence Day date, Lake Forest native Paul Pezza, got married in 2003.
Some 16 years later, frustration stemming from making preparations to travel—another one of Annie’s true loves—ignited something completely different: a business idea.
“People often engage in scattered, unproductive searches on the Internet before traveling,” says the 50-year-old Pezza, a Lake Bluff resident since 2008. “It became exhausting, planning trips for hours and still feeling unsure about the trip. We live in a time where information is readily available, but piecing it together is brutal.
“I wanted to create a digital platform that solves the travel search dilemma. I wanted to offer a social platform where users can discover, create, and share travel stories, itineraries, and favorite trips. Reading travel itineraries of real people—along with their likes and dislikes during the trips, helpful tips, and what they would’ve done differently—would be invaluable for other travelers.”
Pezza’s MyPinerary was born in 2019, and she continues to serve as its CEO. It’s a landing page and blog now (where users are sharing details of their travels), but the MyPinerary website and mobile friendly platform will launch later this year or in early 2023.
“I’d been thinking about this for two years when I first told my husband about my idea,” recalls Pezza, who shares three children—Francesca, 18; Cole, 15; and Jeannie, 12—with Paul. “Paul had just earned his MBA, and we were eating lunch at home at the time. He loved the idea.”
Annie Pezza would love nothing more than to see MyPinerary become the Spotify of travel. She’d also like to break the record for Consecutive Fun Days on the Job. One of her inspirations is British entrepreneur Richard Branson, who might have as much positivity as he has fearlessness.
“The challenge is to follow through on a great idea,” starts one of Branson’s notable quotes. “I think if (you’ve got) a great idea, you need to just give it a try. And if you fall flat on your face, pick yourself up and try again. And, remember, you’ve got to go make a real difference in people’s lives if you’re going to be successful.”
Two blogs submitted to MyPinerary illustrate the usefulness of Pezza’s endeavor:
A mother and daughter took a 12-day trip to London, Paris, and Rome. While checking out Windsor Castle, they enjoyed the quaintness of Windsor and recommended taking a train to and from Windsor instead of a tour bus for “ultimate flexibility.” Renting an electric scooter in Paris and Rome, they added, is a must.
Couples visited Krakow, Poland, for a four-day trip and thoroughly enjoyed walking the entire city while soaking up its rich history. A visit to Schindler’s Museum would have been another highlight of their stay—had they known how sought-after a ticket was. Their advice to MyPinerary visitors: “Make reservations well in advance.”
“What I want MyPinerary to provide is the authentic travel experience for users,” Pezza says, adding her venture also features an element near and dear to her—sustainable travel (and how to become an eco-friendly traveler).
“If I’m getting ready to visit a country for the first time, I’d like to know, from someone who’d just returned from the country, all about that country’s unique spots. Like that great restaurant just around the corner, or that amazing view at the end of a trail.
“There might even be a cool cooking class offered in, say, Lisbon, Portugal,” she adds. “People want to know these things well before they get on a plane. They also want to return home fulfilled, not frazzled.”
Pezza was born in St. Louis and grew up in Denver. She attended Overland High School, home of the Trailblazers, in Aurora, Colorado, and sang in the school’s choir. Her late mother, Jeannie, who died way too young at 54 in 2002, was a waitress, an artist, a photographer, and a perennial contender for Kindest Human in Civilization.
“My mother had so much compassion, and she was incredibly loving,” Pezza says. “She also always had a dollar for anyone on the street who needed it.”
Pezza majored in speech communication at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She aced stints in the restaurant industry (hostess, waitress, accounting), as well as in radio, pharmaceutical sales, and real estate, between 1994-2003.
Pezza then launched The Right Ring—the world’s first engagement ring registry— in 2004 and ran it until 2006.
Her favorite vocation, ever, isn’t really a vocation. It’s motherhood. Annual salary: priceless.
“It’s a huge part of me,” Pezza says. “It defines me, really. I’m a mother first. Getting to be a mother is a gift, something I’ll always cherish. It’s unbelievable how much I’ve learned from my kids.”
Francesca is a Santa Clara University freshman, thinking of majoring in journalism. Cole hits the books and golf balls at Lake Forest High School. And Lake Bluff Middle School student/thespian Jeannie—named after guess who—might have to start thinking about working on her first Academy Award acceptance speech.
Have talent, will (perhaps) have to travel… to the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Count on Mom Pezza to thoroughly take care of the preparations for that trip to Oscar Land, if necessary, Jeannie.
“What have I learned about myself since starting MyPinerary?” Pezza says. “That I have much more courage than I thought I had.”
Visit mypinerary.com for more information. The username for MyPinerary Facebook and Instagram is “mypinerary.”