Torie Giffin’s dream of founding and operating a cycling-centric lodge began as just that — a dream.

“I always wanted to do my own thing,” Giffin, owner of the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort, told the Business Journal. “Two nights in a row I had a dream about a hotel that would cater to bicyclists. It was the first time I could vividly remember a dream and it was the most vivid dream I’d ever had.”

Giffin, a mother to two boys and a girl, had held public relations jobs, she did marketing for Chik-fil-A, and she worked as a television commercial producer.

But throughout her professional career, she was seeking balance.

“I’m always trying to figure out how I can make what I’m worth but also be a mom,” she said. “That was my deepest desire. Chik-fil-A was a great job that was flexible for my kids, but I didn’t make a lot of money. The TV station — I made good money but I didn’t have the flexibility for my kids. I really love being a mom. This idea of a lodge that I could live in and run a business out of was really my dream for my family.”

But the journey was not without its challenges. Giffin opened the Buffalo Lodge in June 2016, and just a little over two years later, one of her sons was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“We took a trip to Disneyland and my son started walking funny,” she said of a family vacation during last year’s holiday season. “We went to the hospital and found he had a tumor half the size of an adult fist in his brain.”

He’s since had four surgeries, 33 days of radiation treatment and is in recovery. But the business had to close for several months.

Giffin is also open about going through a divorce.

“It’s important not to sugarcoat everything,” she said. “It’s been challenging living and working at my business. The dream of a family-owned, family-run business is super tough. The trade-off for getting to be able to be with my kids is it’s also really easy to work all the time. There’s no office to leave.”

But Giffin loves what she does.

“I’m a self-appointed ambassador for my community,” she said. “I love being able to welcome guests and tell them where to go.

“And I get to bring the world into my home. My kids get to meet people from all over the world and connect with them and find out about their cultures.”

What does it mean to be named among the Business Journal’s Women of Influence?

“I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t want it,” Giffin said. “I want to be a woman of influence — not just for an award but for what it means. I think there’s a responsibility that comes with it. Like the women who have influenced me — there’s a responsibility that comes with this recognition that you’re going to pay it forward and help bring up the next generation of influential women.”

And paying it forward is part of Giffin’s plan.

“I can’t wait for the day where I get to be that kind of woman of influence to the next generation,” she said. “I try to do that through my business all the time — supporting my staff in whatever they want to do.

“They may be cleaning a room today, but tomorrow they may want to be a bike mechanic — so maybe I can help put them through school.”

Women of Influence 2019: Torie Giffin