Meet Jennifer Kem: The Shepreneur Who Lost It All & Then Bounced Back & Built 3 Million-Dollar Brand-Building Businesses

Jennifer “Jen” Kem is a San Francisco Bay Area-based branding and marketing expert who gets entrepreneurs seen, heard, and paid – for being themselves.

She’s the creator of the Master Brand Method: a framework to develop powerful brand archetypes that win customers’ hearts, leveraging Jennifer’s 17 years of corporate experience and her launching of multiple companies.

She uses the Master Brand method in digital strategy coaching for emerging entrepreneurs, celebrity brands like Oprah Winfrey Network and Steve Harvey, and major corporations including Verizon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Bank of Hawaii.

Jennifer serves up straight talk wrapped in love because she understands entrepreneurs’ challenges: She built a retail business and became a millionaire at 32, only to lose it all in the recession two years later. She is now the successful owner of three million-dollar brand-building businesses and the mother of three children.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Jennifer to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself?

I grew up in the sugar plantations of Hawaii watching my grandmother transition from sowing seeds in the fields to becoming our family’s first entrepreneur when starting her own in-home elderly care business. Inspired by her example, I launched Hawaii’s first brick and mortar lingerie store in 2006, becoming a self-made millionaire at 32 years old. Then, disaster struck as the 2008-2009 financial crisis swept me clean of all financial reserves. I lost my store, my staff, and my beloved grandmother all at once.

After wrestling with grief and depression, both natural consequences to all I had experienced, I began to understand that I had a choice: I was given the opportunity to rebuild and could do so with more power, more wisdom, and more resources than the first time around. I decided to start a service-based, recession-proof brand consulting business. Within a few years, I developed my own marketing process called the Master Brand Method: a framework to develop powerful brand archetypes that win customers’ hearts and encourage them to open their wallets, and opened the Master Brand Institute.

Today, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and share tools and resources to serve small business leaders in this time of economic crisis. I’m proud that I can utilize all of my past experiences to serve other leaders and continue to contribute to the stability and growth of the economy.

Can you describe your journey to success?  

As a little girl, I always had big dreams inspired by my grandmother’s mentorship. When I grew older, I began to notice that I had sort of a sixth sense: I could smell money in opportunities. This served me well as I began my career in B2B branding and marketing for technology companies, winning them large, lucrative contracts. When I decided to fly solo and redirect my natural business instincts and corporate experience to entrepreneurship, I naturally felt both the rush of possibility as well as the shakiness of risk. My success grew just as quickly as it failed, with both the realization of wealth filling me up and the plummeting into pennilessness draining me once more.

But I had babies to feed and big dreams to fulfill, so I began again. With the support of family, friends, and mentors, I was able to leverage my past as a successful brand expert in corporate settings and an entrepreneur to build yet another business venture. I used my sixth sense, smelling the money in opportunities to find quick, and this time, lasting success.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am focusing on serving the small business community. This means I am gathering resources to keep them in the market, promoting branding strategies to help them sustain their clientele during the crisis, and foreshadowing how they can thrive faster post-quarantine. Additionally, I am creating a community for small business leaders so that they have competent and compassionate support that will fuel them so that they can stay true to themselves, their families, their businesses, and their brands during this stressful stage in history.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers?  

At Master Brand Institute, we have developed a tried and true way to ensure businesses will be successful from their marketing campaigns. One, they must understand their brand archetype, which will define their essence, vision, and communication style. Two, they must invest in a deep knowledge of the understanding and motivation of their ideal audience. Three, they can integrate visual aesthetics that promote the brand’s values to attract customers. Four, they can practice an activation process of testing, iterating, and launching successful products. Five, they commit to amplifying their brand, their products/services, and successful campaigns to a variety of platforms and audiences, with confidence and an ownership mindset.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I believe in the power of brand archetypes, which is a term coined by Carl Jung, a renowned Swiss social psychologist. Archetypes can be defined as recurring stories or characteristics that make up human behavior. Understanding your own archetypes can help you to assess what talents come naturally to you and where you might need support in the development of your brand and business. There are 12 primary archetypes: the Maverick, Ruler, Sage, Explorer, Ruler, Lover, Alchemist, Creator, Provocateur, Healer, Hero, Muse, and Advocate. Each person is a conglomeration of three archetypes: Dominant, Intrinsic, and Intuitive. Your dominant archetype defines brand visibility and values. Your intrinsic archetype, or your secondary, helps decide your brand identity. Lastly, your intuitive archetype supports you in all decision making. Each archetype has a light side and a shadow side. Understanding where you will shine and where you need help shining will set you up for brand success. Using the dominant archetypes in your messaging, email and social media campaigns help create authentic resonance and make people trust your brand more.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Besides the brand archetypes methodology that we use, we use a values-driven framework called the Master Brand Method and Brand Authority Map that specifically lines up what the brand stands for and how it helps its audience. Ultimately people buy things because they are clear on how a product/service helps them in their lives, and our Method and Map allow our clients to market more effectively because of how clear they are in what they deliver.

We also emphasize storytelling – because, in any niche, the only thing that truly sets you apart is your stories, both your authority and your approachability stories. When your brand tells a better story that connects with your audience, you enroll clients on demand.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Canceling all of our live conference events and shifting them to online conferences for the rest of the year. In-person platform events are one of the biggest ways we make revenue not just for our company, but for our clients we consult with too. So adapting and pivoting to a purely online delivery took a lot of choreography, modified marketing, and increased fulfillment. It also takes different types of people resources to create an online experience in the same realm as an in-person experience, so there were additional training and sales expectations to be modified.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from?

During the 2008-2009 recession, I believed that I could continue to expand my lingerie business in a failing economy against the recommendation of my financial advisor. I expanded without increasing cash flow and went deep into debt. At the time, I thought that in order to have integrity as a business owner that I needed to pay off all of my debts even when I had no money coming in. This was a huge mistake. I ended up paying thousands of dollars in debt only to go bankrupt anyway a year later.

Today, I coach entrepreneurs to focus on gathering cash reserves to utilize in times of crisis. I encourage them to find trusted financial advisors who can accompany them honestly and safely throughout their business cycles. I also counsel business owners to consider bankruptcy if they get stuck financially, without holding the societal shame. Bankruptcy was created so that business owners could start again and utilizing the system is very much in alignment with being a person of integrity.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

I came from a family that immigrated to the United States because we had so little and dreamed of so much. I am grateful for the privilege that my family passed down to me in their hard work and have continued that diligence to bring more wealth into my family. I enjoy the wealth I have while recognizing that so many other families are on different stages of their wealth journey. I always hope to empower people into more wealth through sharing my insights in personal and professional contexts, as well as gifting portions of my abundance to those in need.

What new business would you love to start?

I am currently building two platforms to help women acquire affluence and influence that I’m super excited about! One, Femmefluence, is a podcast that sheprenuers can listen to in order to be guided in topics from soul research, to tribe building, to brand mastery. Additionally, The HerQ is a women-focused co-working collaborative space in Walnut Creek, California that will open as soon as the Coronavirus Pandemic has passed and we’re all safe to inspire each other through collaboration in common places again!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have hired a mentor sooner than I chose to – both in the business world and in supporting my personal development. Coaches, therapists, and consultants have been critical partners in my growth as an entrepreneur, and I believe in investing in them before you “need” them and especially before you think you can afford one. The goal of hiring experts to help you is not to make you better at what you’re already good at – the goal is to hire them to help fill the gaps and navigate the blind spots, which we all have. And, create a wealth-building strategy early by paying myself forward with an IRA, life insurance, and estate plan. I have one now but would have definitely liked to have started one earlier.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My first mentor at work was a woman named Maria who had the life I wanted. I asked her, “If I want to have what you have in the next 10 years, what do I have to do?”. She said: “If you take the jobs (projects/tasks/things) that no one wants to do, you’ll get seen, heard, and paid more than anyone else in your field.” She was right.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Build a network of support internally and externally! Understand your inner voices and motivations. Listen to the ones on your side and learn to reframe the ones who challenge or limit you. Hire a coach or therapist if you need support in this work. Otherwise, find peers to normalize what you’re going through, mentors to lead you to where they are, and mentees who you can coach to remind you of how far you’ve come. This support network will carry you past obstacles and into a sustainable success!

One On One With The Woman Behind Some Of The Biggest Gym Chains In The World: Selena Short

Selena Short’s business acumen was revealed quite early on in her life and in a most unusual way. Short reveals that “as a kid, while others played games, I played shops, would even make up raffles to sell. Actually, I would raffle off my Mum’s frozen chickens, without her knowing about it, sorry mum!”  From that nefarious beginning, Selena Short has built for herself not only an incredibly successful career but one that is full of passion and purpose.

If one hears of a big-name fitness club, chances are Selena Short has had a hand in it.  The New Zealand native holds a Master’s Degree in Commerce from Victoria University in Wellington and has been working in the fitness industry for 18 years.  A fortuitous move to Hong Kong (having previously worked for Air New Zealand as a Business Analyst) gave her the chance to apply for, and secure, a job as Marketing Manager for California Fitness Centres (CFC).  She shares that “over the 7 years with this company, I worked my way up into a senior role as Vice President in charge of Marketing and Human Resources.  I managed an annual marketing spend of over US$5 million and oversaw the HR for over 2,000 employees across 6 countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia).”  When the company was sold in 2005 for a record $1.6 billion US, Short made enough from her shares to be able to make the move to Australia in 2006 and start her first gym.  She reveals that “alongside my husband and business partners Mark Mastrov and Eric Levine we started V Club, a revolutionary concept and a gym that won the best gym in Sydney 4 years straight.  Since then we have grown the business into 10 Crunch gyms across Sydney and Melbourne.”  Selena was also involved in opening the first international locations for UFC Gym and Hard Candy Fitness, the fitness company started by music superstar, Madonna, and her manager, Guy Oseary.

It’s obvious that Selena is passionate about fitness and health.  But the 46-year old is also passionate about, she shares, “seeing people grow in their unique gifts and purpose…we have over 750 in our team who are responsible for close to 55,000 members, I get to equip our teams to inspire and motivate people to live better…I love building strong teams that are on a mission to help people ‘perspire to greatness’…if our business can help someone become stronger and be healthier, then we will have played a part in helping them live their life to the full.”

Massive success has the unfortunate side effect of warping one’s sense of self-worth and sense of entitlement.  But nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to Selena Short.  Take for example her revelation of what has been the most memorable experience of her career so far: “Opening the doors of our first owned fitness club for the first time will always be a defining moment…it is a moment I relive with every new club opening to this day. I am personally on site helping set the club up and finish the final clean! I’m there on opening day and I do the first workout with members. But right before we open our doors I pause and say a little prayer for all the lives we are about to change from that day onwards! It’s powerful, we impact communities!”  This from a woman who has worked with stars such as NBA legend, Magic Johnson; model extraordinaire Cindy Crawford; UFC President Dana White, and NBL Australia’s Executive Director, Larry Kestelman!  The half Kiwi/half Cook Islander directly attributes her continued humility and down-to-earth nature to her Christian beliefs – “I believe I am positioned where I am today because it is God’s plan.  All I had to do was obey the signs and work extra hard for it.”

Any successful business entrepreneur got to where they are because there were people who influenced them along the way.  For Selena, these included her business partners, Mark Mastrov (founder of 24 Hour Fitness) and Eric Levine (founder of California Fitness).  But perhaps the most influential, and who provided the impetus for Selena to start her own gym, is movie legend, Jackie Chan.  She fondly remembers “working with Jackie on design concepts for a Jackie Chan-endorsed California Fitness Centre.  He wanted a whole lot of crazy concepts in the club, I was the only one who would tell him ‘no’, but together we came up with some cool ideas!  Jackie spoke life into me, it prompted a confidence in me to move on to start my own business.”  In China, Chan’s philanthropy is as legendary as his acting career.  Short recounts attending Jackie’s 50th birthday party where the action star became annoyed at guests who gave him big, flashy flower arrangements.  He growled that he preferred to be given money – but the money wasn’t for himself.  Selena shares that “he then sent his team out into the party with buckets for all his guests, the who’s who in Hong Kong to take off their expensive watches and jewelry and donate it to his causes.  I love that he is not just about his movies and business, but is driven to help children living in poverty in China.”

The now Sydney-based wife and mother of 3 continue to have big plans to inspire others to ‘perspire to greatness.’  She shares that they “plan to continue to grow our business in Australia and possibly into New Zealand.  We have a few new clubs in the pipeline now.  We are also going into franchising, I look forward to mentoring franchisee owners and helping them build their own fitness businesses.  Personally, I am starting a foundation to help support women and families through health and fitness initiatives.”  And it all started with a few frozen chickens!  But, as Selena shares, you must figure out your ‘why’ first.  She emphasizes to “figure out what it is that you are passionate about.  What gets you out of bed.  What gets you excited.  And go for it!”  She passionately urges others to actively seek their calling, put in the hard work for it and enjoy the ride – “When things are going well, enjoy it, you’ve probably worked hard for it. When things are tough, don’t give up but fight harder, you are just being shaped for greater things to come.  Love the saying, tough times don’t last but tough people do!”  And there is no better example of this advice than Selena Short herself.

‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round:

1. Last good movie I’ve seen – ‘Moana’

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Tiare Teina (Gardenia flower) because it is my favorite reminder of home Cook Islands – from the gorgeous white flower to the beautiful unique scent – it’s my sense of home.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could?  Trace my ancestor’s steps back through New Caledonia and Samoa, my sister’s idea I love.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” sail across the Pacific Islands in a vaka

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? Oh, so many!  I am highly competitive, can cause over-the-top behaviour!

How This Couple Made The Leap From Rock Bottom To Successful Entrepreneurs

James and Steph Purpura’s journey of transformation is nothing short of extraordinary. Before they met 15 years ago, both of their lives had hit rock bottom. Depressed, bulimic, hopeless, running away from an abusive relationship, and suffering through decades of silence after being sexually abused as a child, Steph at one point tried to commit suicide in a hotel room. James, on the other hand, was filled with self-hate and rage at the world because he felt abandoned by everyone and everything. He eventually turned to drugs and then petty theft to fuel his addictions. Later on, he found himself in prison, locked up in solitary confinement.

At the lowest point in their lives, they met and were united by a shared vision of creating and becoming more. They started the only place they could by working on themselves and helping each other grow. They believed in each other but more importantly, they challenged each other every step of the way, and never settled.

James and Steph Purpura revealed that those tragic events actually became the catalyst for dramatic life changes that brought them together, and their discovery of the keys to unlocking their perceptions, challenging their beliefs, and changing their behaviors. But it took years of trial and error using their relationship to test new ideas, theories, and practices with each other. As they created a new life together, James and Steph formulated an evolutionary plan for living that resulted in tremendous personal and professional success. Now their hugely successful Powerful U events and programs are changing the lives of millions.

Their mission is to provide a roadmap for creating meaning in people’s lives, showing them how to master their perceptions and their emotions, the two factors that separate life of desperation and unhappiness, from one of joy, love, and accomplishment. According to James and Steph, “Everything you are, everything you see, everything you experience, is determined by perception. And it is your emotions that give your life the only meaning it has.”

Money Central magazine recently caught up with James and Steph Purpura to talk about their journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Please provide background about how the two of you met and how the world’s first personal evolution company, Powerful U came to fruition.

How we met is a topic of great debate around our house because we both have different stories about how it went down. But most people seem to believe Steph’s version of the story! We both worked in the same office building, but not for the same company. I saw Steph walking in the parking lot and held the door for her, (Steph swears we were 150 feet apart) but to me, it was more like 10 feet. Anyway, she walked through the door and I walked in after her, she became flushed once she realized I was holding the door for her. Steph was walking to the elevator when she turned around and introduced herself, and then we didn’t see each other until the next week. Later on, we had an awkward encounter in the parking lot where I asked Steph really odd questions like “do you eat” and somehow I convinced her to go on a date with me. The next morning I showed up in her office asking her to go to lunch with me and we have been together ever since. When we met, we were both coming out of the darkest periods of our lives and we had nothing. I was a year out of jail and Steph was 4 years out of a brutal suicide attempt. We started with nothing and were both committed to re-building our lives into what we always dreamed they would be. Years later, we sold our worldwide tech company, and started Powerful U, as our way to give back through sharing the knowledge we learned on our climb out from rock bottom.

Many are calling “Powerful-U” a movement. What are its basic fundamentals and why do you think it’s being referred to as this?

We are encouraging people all over the world to embrace and share their stories because your story only has power over you when you keep it inside. When someone has the courage to share their story it unconsciously permits someone else to do the same. If there is a movement, it’s because we are giving people permission to stop hiding from their past and embrace the power of vulnerability.

What do you find most rewarding through Powerful-U?

Giving people hope. When people tell us that our event or content pulled them out of the darkness and saved their lives. It’s truly incredible knowing that the work we are doing is having such a powerful impact on people.

What types of people tend to gravitate toward the Powerful-U platform and who would you consider your main audience?

Seekers, those who are hungry for the knowledge to shape and change their lives. People who are not afraid to question every aspect of who they are.

You have been extremely successful in various technology ventures, including that of PlanSwift. What has been the biggest challenge shifting from that world to Powerful-U?

The hardest part of transitioning was leaving the world of logic and numbers to the world of emotions and personalities. Embracing social media was very difficult for both of us.

What advice do you have for other business owners struggling to make a footprint in today’s competitive world?

Most business owners quit just before things take off, so if you feel what you’re doing is right and provides value to others keep pushing forward!

What life moments have made the two of you the successful people you are today?

Always pushing each other forward through our biggest fears, and challenging the false and limiting beliefs we had about ourselves.

What would you consider your personal missions in life?

Steph: I just started a subset of Powerful U, called Powerful Women. We had our first event in February 2020. I want to help women find their voices and step into their personal power.

James: To help and change the world into the place that I want my kids and grandkids to live in.

What career goals do you have, after accomplishing so much to date?

We want to make help available to people all over the world so they will have the knowledge they need to transform their lives.

Tell us about your award-winning documentary titled “Perception: Seeing is Not Believing” and your experience as first-time filmmakers.

We wanted to demonstrate that everybody’s life makes perfect sense when put into the right context. We want to give people awareness into what elements create their lives and what they need to know to change. Making a film was both easier and harder than we thought it would be. It was easy to film a lot of compelling content, and it was hard deciding what to use in the final cut.

Do you plan to continue in the world of film and pursue a bigger picture in this space?

YES! We have some future projects in mind that we are really excited about producing.

Who do you consider to be the most interesting and impressive people?

People who have the courage to stand up and question/challenge everything about themselves and the world around them. We are constantly reinventing ourselves and we fully understand how challenging that can be and we respect anyone who attempts to do the same.

You now have a Powerful Universe APP available for smartphones, iPads, and tablets. What drove you to create this, outside of your thirst and natural ability to thrive in technology?

The model to distribute independent movie is broken because filmmakers don’t get access to any of the customer data on the big platforms. We initially launched the platform as a means to distribute our film and it morphed over time as a way to deliver subscription content.

Which social media platform do you feel is the most powerful and why?

Facebook is still the king because they have the most flexibility in the type of content you can post

Where do you see Powerful U in 5 years? 10 years?

As an ecosystem for people who need a platform to deliver compelling content to seekers from every corner of the globe.

How do you separate work from family, considering you are married with children and work together. What is your secret?

We wake up an hour before our kids every morning and meditate together, to make sure we remain connected and on the same page. We make an effort to eat dinner together most nights as a family.

The ‘LIGHTNING FAST’ Round — feel free to answer individually

1. Last good movie you’ve seen: JOKER- Even though it was extreme, they did a really good job of portraying the impact of mental illness.

2. What do you consider beautiful and why? Our children- Seeing the beauty of their individual personalities.

3. What haven’t you done yet that you wish you could? Tour Europe.

4. Complete this sentence: “If I had no fear, I’d…” Enjoy our lives more fully.

5. What is the one “flaw” you wouldn’t change about yourself? We wouldn’t change our past, because it’s taken everything we’ve been through to become the people we are today.

The 3 Best Business Ideas For Every Aspiring Entrepreneur For 2020

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Being your own boss sounds just so enticing that most people leave the corporate world to start their own business. With the promise of time flexibility, an ideal effort-to-income proportion, and the chances of limitless growth, more and more individuals are venturing into the business scene and tinkering their entrepreneurial instincts.

If you have been considering starting your own business but don’t know where to look for ideas, then this should be a good-read.

Make Money from your Hobbies

There’s probably nothing more fun than making money from something that you already enjoy doing for free. Hobbies such as photography, sewing, cooking, and even gardening are a few niches that can turn into promising businesses. The key is making time to learn beyond the basics and to hang out with people who can help you improve your hobby and turn it into a moneymaking craft. If you simply like taking photos, then you may want to take extra photography workshops and become an events photographer in the long run. Occasions like birthdays, showers, and weddings happen all year round so if you take it seriously, your hobby may just land you frequent bookings for the whole year.

Craig Jenkins-Sutton, the owner of Topiarius, considered himself a green thumb and did gardening only as a hobby. He had no formal landscape training but his love for designing gardens has turned into a business with average annual revenue of $1.2 million. Megan Duck had a similar story from sewing. From her first project of sewing ornate linings for the coffins of her employer’s Halloween décor, to the silk chandeliers that she made for The Mirage in Vegas, her average annual income from her sewing and rental business is now at $6 million. Both have been featured on the site of Entrepreneur.com, and they continue to inspire new breeds of entrepreneurs across continents.

Turn your Network into a Pool of Talents

The 21st century has definitely changed the business landscape in terms of offshore and outsourced projects. From BPOs building operations facilities in Asian countries, to Western brands banking on offshore talents for services like accounting, design, translation, IT jobs, etc., you cannot argue that there is indeed a growing demand for a diverse and competent workforce who can get the job done without having to think of added operational expenses and employee benefits.

If you are one of the rare people who have quite a diverse network of skilled people, then this simple “advantage” can be turned into a thriving business. Third party vendors like agencies are becoming lucrative businesses because they bank on a local pool of talents those offshore providers are looking for. For instance, if you are an engineering major, you may have a lot of connections with a similar crowd. You may find it surprising that there are actually dozens of real estate companies who are looking for freelance teams who can do structural drawings and renderings on their behalf. A lot of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean students also run online to find English teachers who can teach from home. If you have friends or relatives who fit the bill, then you may want to connect them with these students. The trick is finding legitimate providers and matching them with the skills of the people who are already in your existing network. Just be sure that all terms and fees are set at the beginning to maintain a smooth and professional workflow for everybody. Remember, you want to build bridges while helping people and earning in the process. The last thing on your list is a fatal mismatch that can give your “agency” negative publicity. If your “hires” provide quality service, then referrals can come pouring in. Good output always translates to better business transactions.

A Pocketful of Passion

Most of us have passions. Genuine passion means loving something on a deeper and more profound level than just a hobby that you simply enjoy. Some develop a different passion for vintage cars and end up with an auto shop that specializes in car restoration. Your passion for instruments or the performing arts such as dancing, acting or singing can be turned into conceptualizing a small school where you can help more people share and develop the same passion as yours.

Terry Finley had an intense passion for horse racing which prompted him to buy his first horse at $5,000. With a lot of learning and advice from the pros, he has managed to build a business with 55 syndicated horses and 550 investors who also earn when their chosen horses are sold, bred, and even when they win those infamous horse races. Terry has mastered the art of the trade and decided to share his passion with the same people who loved the things that he was into. In the process, he was able to start West Point Thoroughbreds, a label that now earns around $6 million annually.

While being an entrepreneur takes a lot of technical strain in terms of cash flow, permits, and marketing strategies, newbies have to realize that they definitely need to start somewhere. They can start small, but at least take the first step and test the waters with one foot. Starting a business and building a label empire does not happen overnight but when you start to take off, you’ll realize that you’ve built a business that will be positively rewarding even after retirement age. By then, you’ll realize that those paperwork, sleepless nights, and zero months have finally become worth it.

One On One Interview With Tahnee Elliott: The CEO Of TC Elli’s

Tahnee

When Tahnee Elliott saw a need for a quality fashion boutique, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to fill in the gap in the market, and the result was a successful business.

She started her business back in 2000 at the ripe age of 24. She had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when she decided that she wanted to go into business. Having lived in the small college town for four years, she knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening TC Elli’s, word quickly spread about her business and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, and not about how much money you spend.

Fast forward to today, and TC Elli’s now has over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world. She runs her business with the help of about 30 high school and college-aged women. Part of the mission of TC Elli’s is to prepare and empower women to start a business, so by delegating essential duties such as social media, buying, and budgeting to her staff – she hopes to teach all of her employees how to start, run, and expand their own company if and when they decide to do so after college.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Tahnee Elliott to find out more about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down.

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I started TC Elli’s in 2000, at the ripe age of 24. I had just graduated from college in Lubbock, Texas when I decided to go into business for myself. Having lived in the small college town for four years, I knew there was a serious need for a quality fashion boutique. After opening the boutique, word quickly spread and TC Elli’s began to grow into a beloved shop where luxury is about being one of a kind, not how much money you spend.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I think as far as small business go; success came pretty quickly. As I said, there was a need and I filled it with TC Elli’s. However, throughout most of the 2000’s, our growth was fairly stagnant. We were popular locally, but our reach didn’t extend further than West Texas. It wasn’t until 2015 that things really began to take off even more than I’d ever imagined. We began promoting our products on Instagram and watched traffic to the e-commerce site soar. Today, we have over 40 thousand followers on Instagram and customers all over the world.

What is your main source of income?

The brick and mortar store in Lubbock, TX is our main source of income, although the online store is picking up sales rapidly.

TCELLIS

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Marketing tactics aside, I think TC Elli’s stands out among the sea of other small fashion boutiques, because of the mission that drives our brand. I only employ women in high school and college. It was around this age that I decided I wanted to open a business. However, other than my formal education, I had very little real-world experience and knew next to nothing about running a successful business. I want to empower the next generation of women to excel in the ‘real world’ by training and teaching them everything I’ve learned throughout the years.

My employees now assist with everything from social media to buying. It’s a brand for young women, by young women and I really think that’s what makes us so relatable and unique.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

In this highly competitive market of fashion, I knew we needed to set ourselves apart from the competition, so I started researching SEO companies. Going through interviews for months, I finally found a great company but it was a very tough decision to take the risk or continue with mediocre online sales.

The level of trust, communication, and value when picking a company you will do long-term business with is a very hard decision. We have used SEO and marketing companies in the past but all of them seemed to fizzle out. CanIRank has been a huge blessing for our continued in-store and online success.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

This is an easy one! LOL, I always over order clothing! I truly have a passion for clothing, so it is extremely hard for me to say “no” when I have an amazing buyer who shows me the most amazing pieces each day.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

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Always stay humble and grateful to those who helped you along the way. Success is a collaborative effort of a lot of people who believe in you, trust you, and support you. Save your money when you are ahead, you might need it later to continue growth or expand.

What new business would you love to start?

After 18 years of experience, I would love to consult entrepreneurs on opening up their own clothing business.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I wish I would have hired a team as soon as I could afford to take on employees. I think for all business owners when you’re just getting started it’s not an option financially to hire a team even if you need it. So, you end up taking the huge task of running a company on yourself. For me, I got used this kind of work. I loved having my hand in every part of the business so even once I could afford to hire, I didn’t. I was working days, evenings, and weekends and was on the brink of burn-out before I hired my first full-time staffer.

Today, we have a team of over 30 employees who help me run the show. While I still play a very active role in the day-to-day business as well as behind the scenes, my work-life balance is much healthier than it was in the first few years. I only wish I had acted sooner.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Absolutely! I love reading so my top picks would be 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and E Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber just to name a few.

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What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

This quote by Rumi–

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dream.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.

The Power Of A Strong Mindset: 3 Steps to Achieve Any Goal

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If you’re not going anywhere with your life then it’s probably because you haven’t set proper goals to follow.

When it comes to building a business or excelling in your chosen field, the first step is always to set a clear and specific goal that you really want to achieve.

Walt Disney, for example, is a great example of a goal setter. He was fired from his first job because apparently, he lacked imagination.He became bankrupt at one stage and had around 300 banks turn down his idea for a Walt Disney theme park. But that didn’t stop him from sticking to his goal and doing whatever it takes to make his dream a reality. Fast forward to today, Disney is a billion dollar company with Disneyland theme parks all over the world.

He once quoted “To some people, I am kind of a Merlin who takes lots of crazy chances, but rarely makes mistakes. I’ve made some bad ones, but, fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do, you’re bound to get a good average.”

Michael Jordan is another great example of a great goal setter. During his sophomore year, he didn’t make the cut to the varsity basketball team because of his height and apparently he just wasn’t good enough yet. After he got cut he worked twice as hard until he finally made the cut and beat everyone else.

Jordan is the type of person that when he sets a goal, he’s going to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. He was determined to be the best basketball player of all time and he worked harder than everyone else around him because he was that committed to becoming the best. Fast forward to today and he still remains to be the greatest player of all time.

He once quoted “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” He also said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

Setting goals can be very powerful as long as you stick to what you want to achieve and envision your success. So now the big question is, how do you create compelling goals?

Figure out why you want to achieve your goals

You need to ask yourself: Am I setting this goal for myself?

How would you feel once you’ve achieved your goal?

Whether it’s earning money for your family or wanting success to improve your station in life, you need to figure out why you want to achieve your goals to give you that sense of purpose. How will achieving your goal affect you as a person?

Knowing the purpose of your goal is what’s going to keep you going and totally focussed on what you want to achieve in life. As long as you know why you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing then you’ll be able to focus long and hard enough to achieve your goals.

Don’t focus too much on the outcome

If you’ve already created your goal then you need to stick to it may it hail or shine. It may seem impossible at the moment because you’re just a small fish in an ocean full of big fishes, but as long as you have that inner belief that you’ll eventually get to where you want to be then you’ll be totally in control of your destiny. It’s the mentality that whatever happens, you’ll succeed eventually. It may not happen overnight but eventually, it will happen.

A number of people give up at the early stages especially when the tough times hit, that’s because they look at their long-term goals, realize how massive it is and tell themselves “there’s no way I can reach that level” or “I’m not equipped enough to make it to that level.” What you need to do is start small, and take baby steps. Focusing way too hard on the big picture might discourage you. If you take it one step at a time you’ll get there slowly but surely.

Repeat your goals over and over again

Repetition is the key to achieving success in life.

You can’t just create a goal and look at it as a one-time thing and that’s it. If you want to achieve success then you need to keep drilling your goals in your head repeatedly. The more you sound like a broken clock, the faster you’ll get to your destination.

One On One With Paul Bromen: The CEO Of Upon A Mattress

Paul Bromen grew up working in his family’s small property management business. When he was in college his grandparents gave him their car and he used the money he made from selling that car to start investing in stocks. Eventually, he got into Real Estate and he accumulated his wealth via Real Estate through buying, holding, and flipping apartment buildings.

We recently caught up with Paul Bromen and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started making money?

My name is Paul Bromen and I grew up working in my family’s small property management business. When I was in college my grandparents gave me their car and I used the money I made from selling that car to start investing in stocks. All summer I day-traded Exxon and Apple.

How did you get started in business?  

In college, I received a grant to start a business called Thrift Ninja. I and my two business partners bought vintage and designer clothing and then sold it on eBay. I actually thought I would be more successful LOL But I wasn’t smart enough to know how hard it was back then.

What is your main source of income?

My main source of income is Real Estate as well as an e-commerce based income.

Would you be willing to tell us your current net worth? How did you accumulate your net worth?

It’s always fluctuating based on the market and I don’t feel comfortable pinning down a number. I accumulated my wealth via Real Estate through buying, holding and flipping apartment buildings. Lately, I’ve also had outsized success in the stock market.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your net worth?

I recently started buying income producing websites such as Uponamattress.com. I think there is a lot of potential in the future for this to be a serious asset class. Although, there is also a lot of potentials to get ripped off so I am proceeding slowly and considering my first couple deals to be educational rather than profit focused.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

There was a moment when it looked I should walk away from the deal for Uponamattress.com based on low sales during a trial period. They eventually picked up and I am glad that I stayed with it.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Once an investment or business has accelerated it’s probably time to sell. Don’t wait until it slows down. A lot of times, the perception of potential increased earnings acceleration will drive the appreciation more than a solid, but stable track record.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t waste time on businesses that can’t scale and stay away from skateboards.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

“In all my life, I only regret the things I didn’t do, not the things I did.”

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Don’t worry too much. Don’t be afraid to start a side hustle and “play business” for a while. It will set you up for future success.

4 Simple Yet Effective Tips On How To Make Your Online Business A Smashing Success

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image via Shutterstock /  TijanaM

For the last 10 years, world population multiplied more rapidly than ever, hence the reason why people find it hard to look for a job suited to their credentials because so many people are also looking for a job.

Good thing, there are other alternatives. Thanks to the advent of technology, people can now make it easy to carry out day-to-day tasks – from shopping and purchasing online to playing online games to making money online. Quite sure, you’re already familiar with some of the best methods you can use to generate good income over the internet. The next concern is the best practices you need to keep in mind and implement to ensure future success.

What are these top practices?

Be unique

Being unique plays an integral part in the success of any online business. Copying other people or company is not the right thing to do. Sure, you can easily copy the website blog post or advertisement campaign of someone else, but do you think this will eventually help you to make money online? The best thing to do is create unique campaigns and content to generate more customers. More customers can be result to more income!

Add value

If you will notice, many people who try to make money over the internet don’t provide value to the items they offer. The result? Low income. Thus, you should add value first when planning to set up an ad campaign or create a website. Adding value must always be your top priority; the money you will earn is just a bonus. By doing so, you can expect more sales and establish a solid customer base.

Be consistent

In everything you do, being consistent is highly important. The same applies when doing business and making money online. Create your own plan and you’ll find that later on being consistent is just a simple thing. For instance, if you own a blog, build links slowly and post consistently. The results will blow your mind.

Invest in equipment and tools

Technologies have been invented to help people and businesses make their daily activities and transactions a lot easier. Almost all businesses today are investing in advanced tools and equipment, so why not do the same to make your online activity a real success? If you’re really serious on making money online, invest in a keyword tool or software such as premium WordPress theme to improve your website.

What are the opportunities on making money online?

There are several opportunities you can try to help you generate income, which includes paid surveys, Google AdSense, tutoring, testing websites, teaching English online, getting paid to test apps, working as a social media administrator, etc. The only challenge you will face is the risk of being scammed. But this is not a big problem, though. You need conduct a thorough, comprehensive research about the company or product and check its reviews.

Ready to make money online? Check out the best practices below to make the process simple and eventually, help you succeed in your niche.