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!

Introducing Mimi G: The World’s #1 Influencer/Expert In The DIY Sewing Revolution

With over 2.1 million social media followers and 12 million website views annually, DIY Fashion Expert/Girlboss Mimi G has defied all odds to emerge as the most influential woman in DIY fashion, propelling herself into the ranks of Martha Stewart, Lauren Conrad, and Chrissy Teigen.

MimiGStyle.com began as a hobby, and has blossomed into the world’s leading DIY fashion/sewing online destination, where Mimi G models her original designs/patterns ranging from business wear to swimsuits that fit the everyday girl, create free tutorials of her on-trend sewing patterns (Turn Your Jeans into a Skirt, Refashioned Sweatshirt into Dress, Men’s Shirt Into Off Shoulder Button Up), personally answers every DIY sewing question (i.e. what fabrics to buy, what projects to start with, etc.), and so much more. She also created the world’s #1 online sewing school SewItAcademy that works for everyone from the first-time sewing novice to the expert seamstress. SewItAcademy helps fashionistas of all levels master the fundamentals of sewing, work at a pace that allows time to practice, learn the importance of specific techniques, break free from mundane methods, and create trendsetting clothing and accessories.

Mimi G has worked with celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Aniston, companies like Target, Revlon, and Google, and has been featured in People Magazine, Parade Magazine, POPSUGAR (to name a few) for making sewing hip and accessible.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Mimi G to talk about her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please provide a background about yourself’?

Well, I am a mother of four and a serial entrepreneur who took her love of sewing and shared it with the world. I overcame sexual abuse as a child, domestic violence, homelessness, teen pregnancy and came out at the other end of with a clear vision for my life. I spent many years struggling to make ends meet and working 16 hour days in a field I liked but knew wasn’t my calling. I did the best I could to feed my kids and keep a roof over their heads like many of us do until I started this thing called a blog back in 2008. I didn’t know what a blog really was so those first few years were really just a time of discovery. It wasn’t until 2012 when I decided to blog consistently and launched Mimi G Style, Inc. that I started to focus my energy on teaching and providing tutorials. It was fun to teach people how to make their own clothes when they had never even considered it. My blog grew rather quickly and after that first year I was averaging about a million page views, I quit my job a year and a half in and now 8 years later we reach nearly 12 million people a year and have over 12,000 students in Sew It Academy. It’s amazing. I don’t know that I was “discovered” because there has been so much that has happened in the last eight years that people didn’t see. Growth, planning, strategies, luck, lol but I owe my success to the people who follow and support and share me with friends and family. Starting a business is not something that happens overnight and I feel like I am just getting started.

What do you like most about blogging?

I like having the ability to reach millions of people by sharing my love of style and sewing. It serves as a great journal of sorts to look back and see all that I have done and it’s the way I market new products to my followers so it keeps everything in one place and consistent. Blogging is different now, we like fast information which is why social media is so powerful so you have to really understand the benefits of having a blog and how to use it even with the ever-changing social media climate.

Can you tell us about your Style & Sew It Academy?

I think my style is always changing, I have moods and I dress according to how I feel. I like simple, easy to put on looks that require little to no fuss. I am a jeans and tee kind of girl but will throw on a cool jacket or cool shoes to take the look up a notch or two. I love clothes and I love shopping but to be honest, shopping can be a little stressful if you are not a sample size or, if like me, have a 10” difference from my waist to hips. That is the reason I started sewing again in my 20’s, I wanted my clothes to fit right. It is also the reason I started Sew It Academy.

I launched Sew It Academy in May of 2016. I founded Sew It Academy to help people who wanted to learn sewing and fashion design but couldn’t afford to go to a traditional design school. I set it up so that you didn’t need any experience to start and just about anyone could afford it. The first course is me showing you what a sewing machine is! (laughs) For the price of two lattes a month we teach you everything you need to know to make your own clothes, fix clothes that don’t fit off the rack, work and design your own collections or work in the fashion industry. There is a ton of free info on YouTube but not all of it is good. I wanted somewhere that had structure and really taught people fundamentals that they could build on. There is no online sewing and design school that offers the variety that we do. We teach sewing, pattern making, draping, fashion illustration for both menswear and womenswear and above all it’s affordable.

What’s the biggest challenge of running an online business?

There are a lot of challenges when running a business in general and a lot of what I do happens online but the overall challenge is creating content on a regular basis. You have to be visible and stay visible in order to reach people and make an impact among so many other people. My focus is always around creating engaging and visually appealing content. It can get a little difficult when you feel like your whole life is an opportunity for content but that is the world we live in and certainly the way you need to approach an online business if you want to have continuous success.

Have you always wanted to be in the fashion industry?

No, not really. I have always loved to sew and design but I didn’t know how that was going to transpire in my life. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I decided I wanted to be a “fashion designer” I went through the process of creating a collection in between my full-time job and even put it on the runway here in LA but after that experience, I knew that although I felt accomplished I didn’t want to spend my time trying to sell a collection. There is a lot more to being a fashion designer that people realize, you have to market and sell your line and very little time is spent doing the actual designing. I love the process of creating garments so after starting my first DIY blog and sharing how-to videos that what I really enjoyed was teaching. I won’t say that I don’t want to do retail at some point because I think I do and will but I can now choose how I want to do it.

What’s your personal mission in life?

I have many, but my main personal mission is to be a great mother, I want to be an example to my kids and have a lasting impact on people I know and those that I don’t. I have worked hard to show my kids that you are more than your circumstances and that the power to be great is found within. I want them to see that despite my struggles I am able to make a positive impact on the world. I have a million friends in my head, all of whom follow me and support me and although I don’t know them all personally I want them to feel empowered and inspired by what I have to offer. My mission in life is to be the best person I can be.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

I have had so many! but at the end of the day, the most memorable moments have been when someone recognizes me not the street, and wants to share their story with me or take a pic. Every time I meet a follower I am reminded at how amazing my life is and how fortunate I am. I have one story that stays with me always. I got an anonymous email from a woman who shared that she had just gotten out of rehab and was in sober living housing. She told me that she had once been a professional engineer with a great career, her own home, a nice car, and a little girl who she loved. She met a man, fell involve and that was the beginning of a very difficult road. The man she had met and was now sharing a home with was addicted to drugs and had introduced her to them. She became an addict, lost her job, her house, and eventually her daughter. She said it took her a long time to get her life together but she did. When she graduated into sober living she was not he computer looking something up and came across my blog. She shared that she spent hours looking through my blog posts and that I seemed to jump off the page, she said she felt like she knew me. She started learning to sew with my videos and that new hobby she was learning from me helped keep her sober. She is now a coupler and travels sharing her story. She ended her letter to me by sharing that now when she speaks to groups she talks about a DIY blogger that helped save her life and she has no idea who I am. I still don’t know who she is but I think of her often and wish her well. My blog started as a place to make cool things and learn but over time it has become a safe place for people to find themselves and many times heal.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have had the pleasure of sitting with celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Gwen Stefani, and Tim Gunn but the most interesting people I have met so far are fans who have had amazing journeys since learning to sew. So many of them have started small businesses, created additional revenue for their families and have even changed careers. I am forever amazed at the stories I hear and how many exceptional people have been brave enough to share their lives with me.

What are your future plans? 

I have so many plans! I am looking to continue growing my business podcast where I get to share all the business advice I wish someone would have shared with me before I became an entrepreneur. It is geared toward people looking to start a business from a hobby or passion. Business SHET (solve, help, earn, trust) has had over 190,000 downloads in less than a year and I am hoping to continue providing resources. I am also finishing my long-overdue book. I also have a few surprises up my sleeves that I can’t share just yet but it will be really exciting.

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!

Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The Latest Issue Of Money Central Magazine: Nikki Clarke, The Founder Of Cadenshae

Starting a business with newborn or small children is not an easy feat, especially when you have to look after four of them. All Nikki Clarke initially wanted to do was make a bit of extra money on the side to feel comfortable financially. She didn’t actually start out to revolutionize the way mums looked and felt about themselves. She started Cadenshae with a $20k order of bras. She financed the entire project herself, as it was important for her not to rely on investors so she could still keep full control of the business. At the time, she had an 11-month-old baby and another one on the way, so it was certainly a risk, but one she knew would pay off as she’d stumbled across a niche market that was not being catered to properly at all. In less than five years she had 2 more kids, yet in the process, she somehow managed to grow Cadenshae into a multi-million dollar global empire.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Nikki to discuss 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 was born and bred in Northland, New Zealand and I have one older sister – Jacqui. My parents are Steve and Sharon and they rock! I’ve always loved exercising and have felt passionate about it from an early age. Growing up I would work out with my Dad in the garage (he was a Policeman) and I always knew exercise would be an integral part of my life.

After school I took on a bunch of different roles, I was a medic in the NZ Army, a beautician, and a personal trainer, to name a few. All of the jobs I took on allowed me to help others in one way or another. Helping others has always been extremely important to me, it’s just part of who I am, and I am so proud of that.

As to how the business came about, as aforementioned – before I became a mother, I was a personal trainer, and so once I had recovered post-birth, I decided to head back to the gym to catch up with clients, show Caden off, and do a bit of a work-out. As I was working out, Caden got fussy, so I went to feed her and this is when my ‘ah-ha’ moment came about! I battled my sports bra, trying to pull it up over my breasts to feed. I was left infuriated. “This is impossible! There’s got to be a better way!” I thought. So, as soon as I got home, I went online to look for some quality nursing sports bras. There was nothing.

“Why has no one thought of this? How can mothers be expected to keep active and breastfeed when there’s nothing practical out there to do it in!”

I decided there and then if no one else would make the gear mums needed, then I’d give it a go! I had absolutely no experience in fashion design, but I knew what was needed, so I began drawing.

Fast forward to 19 months later, and Adam (my partner in life and business) and I have just welcomed our second baby girl, Ryan into the world! Four days later, $20k of nursing sports bras arrive from China, and are emptied onto our front lawn…here we go!

This year we’re set to turn-over close to $6 million (despite Covid-19). Cadenshae (named after our firstborn Caden, her middle name is Shae) now employs 16 staff and is recognized as the leading activewear brand for pregnant and nursing mothers, worldwide. Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, and Canada are our target markets.

Also – we now have four children and one on the way! Caden – 6, Ryan – 4, Kace – 3, Jackson – almost 2 and another wee girl coming soon!

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

As mentioned, the journey started six years ago when I first had Caden and I couldn’t find any suitable nursing sports bras. When I started, I didn’t think it would become this huge, no. I knew it would be somewhat successful as there was a gap in the market and from the chats I’d been having with other mothers, it was clear they would purchase activewear products for pregnancy and postpartum if it was nice! I thought I’d go alright in New Zealand, but the global success has been a very amazing and a pleasant surprise.

What is your main source of income?

Profits from sales.

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

It’s a funny old time with Covid-19 in the mix. Before the pandemic, we were on a serious upward trajectory and had plans for global domination! We still do have these goals, but we’ve had to change our focus a bit recently. Unfortunately, many businesses have been hit hard with people unable to shop as freely as they previously had due to job losses, etc. We have also been hit by this pandemic, but we’re not crippled, so we’re now focusing on building ourselves back to where we were, and when this all dies down – we’ll go back to focusing on taking over the world!

In short though, to grow our business we have to keep creating new and exciting products, so we’re focusing on our product carousel right now as well as trying to keep as many things as ‘in-house’ as possible. We have an amazing social media team, from the ‘faces’ on the camera, to the camera people, graphic designers, etc. Having this all done in-house means not only is it cheaper to do, but it’s faster…we can constantly roll out new content…and social media is such a massive beast which constantly needs feeding. And if you feed it right, you definitely see your return on investment.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Mainly Facebook and Instagram. We do stories every day, giveaways, posts, etc. We use Facebook a lot to interact with our customers, but we also have a presence on Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube…you’ve got to be on everything these days to get in front of the ‘aspirational consumers.’

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

It’s always good to diversify your channels and advertise in different areas. Paid advertising has always been good for us, so I definitely think it’s something everyone should consider doing. Don’t dismiss a channel until you’ve tried and tested in my opinion,

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

This has developed over the years. To begin with, it was just getting the word out there in any way we could! Social media, giveaways, sponsoring events, paid advertising, etc. Now that we have more of a strong-hold (and more experience), we have the power to pick and choose what we do a bit more. We knew from the get-go how powerful PR could be to a company’s bottom line, and as soon as we could, we invested in PR companies to help us out, before hiring our own PR Manager to take care of that side of the business, in-house. PR is crucial for brand awareness; sometimes people don’t know ‘how’ they know of you, but they do know of you! That’s the PR machine working away discreetly in the background. A person may have stumbled across an online article, or read a piece in a magazine while waiting at the Dentist for example…good PR strategies focus on getting in front of as many media outlets as possible, because the more you do, the more people hear/read of you…the more sales you’ll get. Numbers don’t lie! Businesses have to keep working on that and building on it until they become more of a ‘household’ name/brand. That’s a huge focus of ours, as well as catering to our current and new customers through social media.

We stand out I think because we think out of the square when it comes to ‘brand awareness’ tactics. We recently sponsored the incredible Alysia Montaño – a 7x USA champ and 3x 800m world bronze medallist. In fact, we signed her up just days after learning she was pregnant with her third child. Alysia had a hard time with the likes of Nike and Asics cutting her pay when she got pregnant or discussed getting pregnant, so she hit out against these big name brands hard – fighting for a better maternity coverage for female professional athletes. We adored her and how she was taking on the big guns. We wanted to help her in her plight, empower her, like we want to empower all women – so we signed her up for a four-year sponsorship deal. That’s a pretty cool and different way to get the word out about your brand, especially in the US, where our focus is right now.

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

Social media, EDMs, P.R.

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

We stood out initially because there was NOTHING like us around. Nothing that was actually nice and of high quality. Now we stand out because we are the innovators, and our stuff is hands down the best, we know it is. It’s stylish, colourful, comfortable, and supportive. It’s quite flattering when we see our competitors try to copy what we do. I also think we’ve hired some real trailblazers who like to try different things to see what will happen, and often it pays off.

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

The last few months have been the toughest in a while for sure. Covid-19 hurt us for a bit, but luckily, not for long. We decided from the get-go that we would do our utmost to keep everyone in their jobs. We had to cut everyone’s hours and pay for a few weeks, but at least that meant everyone still had a job. We could’ve let people go and kept others on full pay, but luckily we have an amazing team which really is a TEAM and everyone wanted to take a pay cut to ensure no one lost their job. Our staff has been brilliant, and so has the NZ government in their handling of this, helping out businesses with wage subsidies, etc. Our whole team is now back up to 100% pay, thank goodness.

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

I get asked this question a lot, and I’d say the biggest mistakes we’ve made have been around hiring the wrong people, not trusting our gut. It’s cost us a lot. We are now very strict when it comes to hiring people, we don’t take it willy nilly anymore. You’ve got to get it right the first time, or else it can be extremely taxing, in more ways than one.

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

It’s an old cliche, but hard work really does pay off. Working that extra hour or two to get the job done pays off. Working weekends pays off. Missing your mate’s birthday party because you have a shipment coming, pays off. Sacrifice and hard work pay off. Also, you’ve got to be a good person and treat people right. If you do, you’ll get so many other rewards…people want to help nice people and go the extra mile…it’s human nature. Also, we invested in systems/software early on to future proof. We weren’t ‘big’ enough for these systems initially but we knew we would be one day and we’d be ready – and it paid off.

What new business would you love to start?

Gosh, I have no idea! Something to do with helping others…but to be honest I have enough on my plate right now, I’m happy sticking with just this business for now.

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

All the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned from – you have to make mistakes so you can grow and develop. One thing that does stand out though is the hiring process. I would do more research on how best to do that.

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?

I’d say to myself, ‘don’t stress, everything will work out!” I don’t know if ‘past’ me would believe ‘future’ me though even if I did go back. It’s only natural to stress and worry because it means you care and it makes you think a little harder and work a little harder. If I went back and told myself not to worry and not to stress, would I then work as hard? Not sure? It’s an interesting one.

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

I’m not a book reader, but I love reading online business articles. Big fan of Forbes.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Invest early for the future. Don’t be afraid, give it a crack!

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

Do your due diligence, your market research – can you really make a go of this in the current climate? What makes you different? At the end of the day though, if the fire is in your belly, you’ll make it work. Learn from others, seek out mentors…read, read, read…you aren’t expected to know everything, so don’t pretend you do. A true leader asks for help when needed, let others help you and teach you. Learn, make mistakes, learn again, and keep on growing.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With SPIbelts’ CEO, Kim Overton

It all started in 2006 when SPIbelts Founder, Kim Overton, went for a run with nowhere to comfortably hold her key. Afterward, she went home and assembled the first SPIbelt. After months of hard work, development, and patenting, SPIbelt officially launched in February of 2007 out of Kim’s Austin, Texas apartment.

Eleven years later you can find SPIbelt products in over 40 countries. Despite SPIbelts international success, its headquarters remain in Austin, Texas where the majority of their products are still being handmade.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Kim Overton and here’s what went down:

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

My name is Kim Overton, I’m from Austin, TX and a mother of three young boys ages 2, 6 and 7. I launched my company, SPIbelt, 11 years ago after having the annoying experience of jogging with my keys tucked into my bra top. The idea for the SPIbelt hit me like a lightning bolt while I was on a run, I went home that afternoon and made my first prototype. Five months later I filed a patent and officially launched my business.

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

After launching my company in 2007, I worked as many hours as I could until needing to hire help. At that time I hired my brother to help with sales. About one year after launch, I was featured on the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which gave us great exposure and lead to more press. Our brand took off quite rapidly after that.

I have always been driven to work for myself and approach every idea and company with full passion and conviction. I knew early on that that SPIbelt was different, so I did envision mass distribution.

What is your main source of income?

SPIbelt sales through international distributors and domestic retailers.

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

We are currently expanding our line for our customers to have more products to choose from.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

We utilize Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for brand awareness.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

PPC works to an extent but the algorithms change constantly. We find that shared customer experiences on our social outlets are one of the driving forces for sales and awareness with our products.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

We appreciate the user experience the most. Anyone can pay for ad space and expensive marketing, but the real user experience is authentic and invaluable.

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

We launched before FB was a viable platform for businesses, and not that is fading. So we have learned that staying flexible and knowledgeable about what our customer’s habits are is the best way to grow.

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

Our products are sleek but expand a lot! Other phone holders were big and bulky while our stays slim and tight to the body and looks good at the same time.

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

How to divide my time between taking my company to the next level, and being a dedicated mom and wife. It’s a tough balancing act.

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

Investing in a marketing campaign that I knew little about and had little experience with. Early on I produced a mini commercial that the world wasn’t ready for, but cost me $30K.

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

Try to not spend what you think you can sell. In other words, if your customers will buy about $10,000 worth of products in one month, you don’t need to have $50,000 sitting on the shelf for the month. Try to invest in what you think you can turn around in a short amount of time when you are in growth mode.

What new business would you love to start?

I’d love to start a business with my husband that allows us to combine our passions of being parents with helping others. We have one in mind that we’re currently working on! Stay tuned.

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

Nothing. I’m grateful for the journey I’ve had. But if I must pick, I would have let people go quicker than I did. Having the wrong people on the bus can really suck the life and opportunity out of your business. Learn to let people go when needed, you are also doing them a great big favor.

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?

Meditate on a daily basis and keep an exercise routine consistent, no matter what.

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

When starting out, “Think and Grow Rich”, when established, “Traction.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To remember, God made us with eyes in front of our head, not the back. Keep your eyes forward, look ahead! Don’t worry about the past.

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

Identify your customer base and where they are. Go to them and test out your product, your concept, talk to people before spending too much time and energy in one direction just to find out that’s not what the masses want. And launch without waiting for “perfection”, because no one idea will ever be perfect for everyone. Launch when you’re as close to perfect as you can get for the real potential customers you’ve spoken with.

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.

One On One Interview With Frankie Russo: The CEO Of Potenza

potenza

This entrepreneur confessed that when he started his business he had no idea what he was doing, fast forward to today and his business is now an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company for four straight years.

Frankie Russo was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. His father owned a fashion clothing store for many years before deciding to change direction and going into inner-city work with the homeless. He started his entrepreneurial journey by selling t-shirts to his high school friends, afterward, he became a server at a restaurant after high school. After a chance meeting with a mortgage broker at a table, he was serving in the restaurant he used to work for, he became a part-time mortgage originator. This gave him an early jump start on his real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting her own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople.

When the mortgage crisis came in 2008, his business went down, but luckily one year before the crisis he already started a small company with his brother who just graduated graphic design – that company was Potenza. Initially, they had no idea what they were doing so they had to rely on the needs of their clients to guide them to the direction they need to take their company to. It took them five years to even figure out what Potenza really was and now it’s a leading full-service 360 marketing firm, and an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company for four straight years.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Frankie to find out more about his 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 was raised in a family of self-starters. My dad had his own fashion clothing store for many years before changing directions and going into inner-city work with the homeless. Our family started homeless shelters and ran those for two decades. When I got out of high school and went to college, I quickly learned that a part-time mortgage originator would be the best gig I could do with the limited hours I had available after the commitments for college. This gave me an early jump start on my real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting my own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople. That all came to a screeching halt in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. Luckily, one year before the crisis I decided to start a small company with my little brother who just graduated graphic design. That company was called Potenza.

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

I started out selling t-shirts at my high school then I became a server at a restaurant after high school. After meeting a mortgage broker at a table I was serving in the restaurant, I became a part-time mortgage originator which was the best gig I could do with the limited hours I had available after the commitments for college. This gave me an early jump start on my real estate career which lasted eight years and included starting my own brokerage firm with 15 salespeople. That all came to a screeching halt in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. Luckily one year before the crisis I decided to start a small company with my little brother who just graduated graphic design. That company was called Potenza. The truth is, we had no idea what we were doing…. which was the best thing that ever happened to us. We had to rely on the needs of our clients to tell us what direction we will take our company. And since we were in the middle of a recession and for the first time local businesses were starting to use online media; it was the perfect dust storm for us to emerge from. We would get a client and give that client everything we had. Then get another client, and we continued to provide that client the same treatment. It took us five years to even figure out what Potenza was. And I spent the next five years reinventing that definition.

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

Reinventing the ad agency model by continuing to enhance our marketing automation and attribution software “ReturnFlight.” We have also created a wholesale division that allows for other ad agencies and media companies to reinvent themselves by white labeling our software to give them a competitive edge as well in their markets. At this stage in the game, if you’re not using data and technology to fuel your marketing decisions and create your highly personalized marketing messaging, you aren’t going to be able to compete.

Writing a book and doing talks to business communities has also been a very effective way to stand out in an overcrowded industry.

Lastly, having content generated and published constantly about the problems you are solving in your industry is a great way to attract the right type of customers to your business. I believe attraction is better than promotion when it comes to business. I always try and make sure I have something that “they” want to stay attractive. This creates a magnet for your business that attracts new customers.

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

We always thought differently. We positioned ourselves as an outlier that was not a traditional version of our company (ad agency). We built things in-house that other companies outsourced. Early on we were one of the only ad agencies in the area that had her own internal video production department. A few years later we were the only add agency that had an internal digital advertising department. And eventually, we created our own software product that gave us a huge proprietary niche. This enabled us to build a business that helps other ad agencies and media companies to conquer the niche in their market.

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

The toughest decision I’ve had to make in the past few months is allowing my company to evolve by getting out of the way. Last year I hired some important executive staff including a chief operating officer. I learned several years ago at one of the first Inc 5000 conferences I attended that founders make crappy CEO’s. Well, this is very hard to hear, this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. As a founder, I can only take the company so far before I start ramming into a glass ceiling. Today I realize that it is my thought leadership and vision that is most valuable to the company since we are now too big for me to run it as we did at the beginning. This hard decision to let go and not micromanage has opened up the next chapter of our business for even more immense growth then we have already seen.

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

I’m very grateful that I never had to take investment capital or get large lines of credit from banks. However, if I did it over again, I would strategically have partners that could bring investment money to the table earlier in the process as well as offer strategic business opportunities to grow our business faster. I also learned that I could never have too many business mentors who had gone before me and made money mistakes that I can avoid by letting them mentor me as I grow.

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

Never stop reinvesting into yourself. I made a decision early on to not divert any profits from my business into other investments like real estate and the stock market until I had fully invested in my own companies and products. As the primary shareholder of my companies, I am most important Investor.

What new business would you love to start?

I would say a music record label, but I just started one of those. I I think my next frontier will be a new business for capital ventures. I would love to be a mentor and Investor in many companies as a minority shareholder to be a part of a lot of different innovation and industries without having to be the main driver of the business.

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

Don’t flinch. Never stop going all out and fail fast because your failures will bring out your highest value to your stakeholders, employees, and customers.

One On One With Successful Entrepreneur Cynthia Johnson

Cynthia Johnson - Headshot

Cynthia Johnson is an entrepreneur, marketing professional, author and international speaker. She previously worked as a receptionist at an acting agency; she was also a server at Tender Greens and The Cheesecake Factory and she was even an event planner in Las Vegas. When she turned 25, she decided to sell all her things to find a new meaning in life through travelling the world. It was through her adventures across Asia and Australia, where she eventually found her niche skill in storytelling and helping others with marketing strategies and creating their brand image.

Fast forward to today, and now she’s a business advisor, keynote speaker, and CEO of a successful agency (Bell + Ivy) as well as an author. She is an Advisory Board member for The Millennium Alliance and GetGlobal which are leading technology, business, and educational advisory event companies serving fortune 1000 executives. She has been involved in campaigns for Outerknown, HereMedia, West Management, Chevy’s, PETA, and several other leading brands. She is also a contributing columnist to Entrepreneur, Success, Forbes, and several other industry-specific publications. Her first book will be published in early 2019 by Penguin Random House.

StarCentral Magazine recently sat down with Cynthia 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 never really did anything the same way others did so my entrepreneurial journey is a bit of a rollercoaster. However, though my journey separates myself from others who took a more conventional route, I can proudly say that I’m a prime example of not really knowing what I wanted to do, to finding my “calling” when I was most vulnerable. Before co-finding Bell + Ivy, a digital marketing and personal branding agency in Santa Monica, CA with my co-founder Zach Binder, I worked as a receptionist at an acting agency, was a server at Tender Greens and The Cheesecake Factory, an event planner in Vegas, and digital marketing director for a rehab center. At 25 I decided to sell all my things and turned to find a new meaning in life through traveling the world. It was through my adventures across Asia and Australia, where I eventually found my niche skill in storytelling and helping others with marketing strategies and creating their brand image. Sometimes as a form of currency, I would share my knowledge in the communications field for room and board and made countless friends along the way. I then started speaking at more events, joining more panels and began moderating discussions. Bell + Ivy was created through the magical discovery of passion and persistence of just living and letting life take its course. Today, I am a business advisor, keynote speaker, CEO of a great agency and an author. I am honored to have been listed by Inc. Magazine as a top digital marketing person to follow, top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable and top female entrepreneurs that inspire by Darling Magazine.

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

We constantly strive to uphold Bell + Ivy’s brand to the same, utmost quality, as we deliver to our clients. With the tools of digital marketing, personal branding, and storytelling, our office is comprised of the boldest and the brightest who not only deliver these aspects professionally but also in their personal lives, reflecting the power and stamina of our agency. We are humbled to say that we are in a place where a lot of business comes to us and we then get to choose who and what is the best fit at the time. Shoot us a message – our doors, and inboxes, are always open!

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

Storytelling using digital marketing, of course. Business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts on creating a cohesive community with their followers and to improve the interoperability of information between all their channels. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have such a massive following and the potential to be an impressive channel to sell and promote a product, message and/or brand. Relatable, relevant and timely content throughout these platforms will create a genuine community of followers that enhances their brand identity which then creates more brand loyalty.

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

Again, storytelling. Never underestimate the power of telling an impactful story to the right audience and at the right time. When you know exactly who you’re working with and how to proliferate influence, you’re golden.

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

Setting a wedding date and then coordinating everything that goes into the wedding. Nobody warns you about this kind of stuff!

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

I wouldn’t say this is a mistake but more something to be aware of money. Money is a tricky subject, and yes, money helps when first creating a business. However, you decided to start a business, and that is an investment. Therefore, you must wholeheartedly invest in your company and your team and provide the necessary tools and resources to best equip your team to produce the best work they can. It’ll be worth the investment and the opportunity cost is exponential!

What new business would you love to start?

If I told you, I’d have to kill you! Totally joking of course. However, I do have some ideas up my sleeves that I can’t share quite yet. It’s a secret for now but stay tuned for more.

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

Absolutely nothing. Getting lost and being vulnerable in my early 20’s is how I got to be where I am today. Sounds cliche but it’s true. But if I had to choose, maybe stay in China longer? China is an incredible country with so much to offer. However, as an international speaker, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to travel, to countries like China, and experience work and play.

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?

Drink less coffee and start drinking more tea.

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

Plenty! “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,” by Mark Manson, is a classic, “Leaders Eat Last,” by Simon Sinek, and “Talking to Crazy,” by Mark Goulston. These three selections are actually from my book club, where we dissect each book to fully understand the meaning and how it can impact our daily professional lives in a positive way. Join the conversation, today!

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Just try it – what’s the worst that can happen? If you fail, that’s okay. If you fail again, that’s also okay. But next time, fail better.

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

No matter how much you think you can handle everything on your own, you can’t and you won’t; and that’s 100% okay. Be realistic, stay optimistic and ask for help when you need it. Do research online, engage with your community and see who could bring value to your team. You’re going to want to do it all by yourself, but at the end of the day, the best way a company can grow is through steller leadership and a transparent team.

One On One With Skyler Ditchfield: The Once-Homeless Man Who Became A Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur

Skyler Ditchfield

One of the most powerful rags-to-riches stories is that of Skyler Ditchfield, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, who had a troubled childhood in rural Ojai, California. He grew up in a broken home and was bullied and beaten up at school but managed to rise above his difficult circumstances to become mega-successful.

Even though Ditchfield ended up giving up on school, he still landed his first job in Silicon Valley. He took his first real corporate job as a Network Engineer II at the Private Network Management Center (PNMC) of MCI Worldcom in Silicon Valley where he serviced high-level clients such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Quotron, Reuters, and more. Although he was the youngest technician in the office, he was quickly promoted to Network Engineer III because of his outstanding performance. However, when the company relocated to the East Coast, he was one of two employees that were offered a transfer. He declined the offer, and instead, he decided to return back to his hometown in Ojai, California.

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Over the next few years, he experienced multiple business failures that left him facing massive debt and ruined credit. He even tried to open up a local nightclub which didn’t pan out, and he also became homeless for a time. On top of that, his life-long battle with Chrome’s disease took a severe turn for the worse, placing him in multiple month-long stays in the hospital. His disease got so bad, that the doctors said he only had a few more years to live. Determined to outlive their predictions, he found an experimental course of treatment on the Internet which miraculously worked. Then came what Ditchfield calls his restart button – he found out he was going to be a father. With renewed health and an unexpected daughter on the way, he found a new sense of motivation for life. He regained his health and aggressively got back in the I.T. space allowing him to climb out of debt.

Fast forward to a few successful startups later, he ended up discovering GeoLinks with his cousin Ryan Hauf. Skyler bootstrapped what began as a 2-person business out of his weight room in 2011 to what is now a 9-figure (and growing) business. GeoLinks became the fastest growing fixed wireless ISP in the country and Inc. Magazine’s 2017 Inc. 5000 NO. 5 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America. Under his leadership, Ditchfield has led the company to record more than 100% growth for six years straight and is on track for a seventh. Some of his recent accolades include World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017, Entrepreneur of the Year 2018, and Top 100 Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion.

Skyler Ditchfield _ Photo BOBBY CURTIS_Acorn Newspaper

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

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

I don’t consider myself successful yet, however, I feel I have traction and am on the right path. While I appreciate the recognition, success, in my eyes, would be to permanently change the lives of all my staff and others for the better. My journey was described earlier; it’s been long, grueling, and hard. I’ve calculated that I’ve put in about 20 years of normal work hours in the last seven years alone at GeoLinks. I’ve always imagined the path to success would come sooner, and I find it frustrating not being able to achieve growth even faster than we already are.

What is your main source of income?

My main source of income is the salary I earn from GeoLinks.

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

I look at new opportunities every single day. Currently, I am evaluating expanding our network into additional states, further diversifying our product line, and exploring more government project opportunities.

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

I face tough decisions every day. The most difficult decisions for me end up being when I have to walk away from exciting and big opportunities simply because I know (from experience) it would stretch our team too thin, or we lack the resources.

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

I’ll say this—learn your accounting and always double check your books. Even if you trust someone else to do it, still learn and keep an eye on what’s going on, because if you don’t keep track of your cash, you’ll be out of business.

Skyler Ditchfield, Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, Ryan Adams

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

I am not wealthy in my own eyes… However, as perceived success grows, more and more people will mislead you, misrepresent themselves to you, and pretend to be your friend.

What new business would you love to start?

A health and nutritional products business—outside of GeoLinks and my family, health, and fitness have been lifelong passions of mine.

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

Be ready. Be ready for more challenges and perceived failures than you can possibly imagine. Realize and prepare yourself for the fact that the problems that lie ahead will ultimately become opportunities, and never fool yourself into believing that the road ahead will be easy. Master that mindset now, and you’ll be primed for pushing through all of life’s roadblocks.

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?

Just start. Don’t procrastinate or worry about putting yourself out there.

Once you’ve had the courage to start, have the confidence to know that results will come.

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

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and No Man’s Land: Where Growing Companies Fail by Doug Tatum.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Cash is king, know your accounting!

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

If you can’t sell your own product, don’t start the business. Furthermore, there is definitely such thing as growing too fast. It’s easy to get wrapped up in accelerated success, and thus make misguided business decisions on projections rather than facts. It’s okay to dream big, but remember, in order to have a business or achieve a mission, you must remain in business. Another element that can be lost in quick growth is culture. In today’s modern workplace, culture is paramount in attracting and retaining top talent. Thus, it’s imperative to never forget that you’re only as great as the team you’re surrounded by. Finally, one word of advice I give to all Entrepreneurs who are starting out is to follow your gut and fire fast. Every single time I have ignored my gut or procrastinated on a “debatable” employee, it has yielded negative results. The world is full of opinions, master the art of creating your own and trusting your intuition.

One On One Interview With Millionaire Entrepreneur Jasmin Terrany

This inspiring entrepreneur went from working three odd jobs earning an average income to a six-figure income – but it wasn’t an easy journey.

When Jasmin Terrany graduated from her Master’s program at Columbia University, she ended up working three jobs to make ends meet. She worked part-time as a therapist at a Medicaid clinic, part-time as a school counselor in a high school in Harlem, and she also started her private practice on the side.

She started her practice in 2007 and realized early on that although she had done psychotherapy training, it didn’t mean people would be knocking on her door to obtain her service. She knew she had to think like an entrepreneur to get people to be more interested in her business. That’s why she started taking marketing classes and learning more about sales. Eventually, she ended up inventing Life Therapy – it combines traditional Psychotherapy and Life Coaching, as well as spiritual practices like Mindfulness and Meditation. When she started her business, she was only charging $50 per session; she never imagined that eventually, she’d be charging ten times that per session. She now maintains a six-figure, ten-hour a week virtual business, while raising two small children at the same time.

We recently sat down with Jasmin 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 work mostly with high-profile individuals who want to make their personal life as successful as their business life. I help them improve relationships, self- confidence, and body image while alleviating stress and anxiety. I call my work “Life Therapy” because it combines traditional Psychotherapy, Life Coaching, and spiritual practices like Mindfulness and Meditation.

When I graduated from my master’s program at Columbia University, I got three jobs. I worked part-time as a therapist at a Medicaid clinic, part-time as a school counselor in a high school in Harlem, and I started my private practice on the side. I rented office space by the hour. Eventually, as my practice grew, I rented one day of office space then two days, then got my own. When my practice was lucrative enough to support my lifestyle, I quit my other jobs and continued only with that.

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

I started my practice in 2007. I realized early on that although I had done all of this psychotherapy training, just because I believed myself to be a wonderful therapist it didn’t mean people would show up. I had to become a business person. That;’s why I started taking marketing classes and learning about sales. One of the key phrases that helped me grow was, “I only want clients who are ready, willing and able.” Before I started using this mantra, I felt the need to accommodate any potential client even if they weren’t right for me.

When I started with my first client at $50 per session, I never imagined that eventually, I’d be charging 10x that per session. I now maintain a six-figure, 10 hour a week virtual business, while focusing on raising my two small children.

What is your primary source of income?

My private practice and my books. I meet with clients via Skype, phone or any other video conference.

What is your primary tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

To be authentic and share my story, it starts with my mom…

My mom Betsy is the mom everyone desired. As beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside, she’s overflowing with unconditional love, true understanding, and joy. She was a best friend, the ultimate role model, and a true parenting guru. In over a decade of private practice, a lifetime of relationships, and over 50 countries of world travel, never have I even heard of another mother who parented with such intention, dedication, clarity, wisdom, and fun.

With no warning, no preparation, one sunny afternoon, she simply disappeared from this world. She was driving to meet me for lunch, and never arrived. Age 64, mile marker 64. Gone.

As I sat all alone, trying to digest this unfathomable news. I stared out the window as the sunlight kissed the sparkling ocean waves. I couldn’t believe the peace I felt, amidst the heart-wrenching pain in my soul. She was there with me. Her loving wisdom was so deeply embedded in my essence that I couldn’t tell if it was her voice or my own.

“Now is your time.” Every part of me knew. “Don’t be scared. This pain is your gift. This is your learning… You are the Mommy now.”

After the most devastating year of my life, it all began to make sense. On the first anniversary of my mother’s passing, I naturally gave birth to my own daughter. The hair-raising synchronicity of this moment, not only brought new physical life into the world but channeled the content of my most treasured work of art:

“Extraordinary Mommy: A Loving Guide to the Most Important Job There is.”

This book is my new chapter of life. I have visions for other books, workbooks, educational programs, children’s books, workshops, motivational events and so on.

I believe that extraordinary mothers make extraordinary people, and I am destined to help mothers access their truest strengths so they can be warriors of love for the most important job there is.

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

At one point I got a money manager to invest in puts and calls. I was young and thought I had a high-risk tolerance, but after he lost almost 50% of my portfolio, I realized I was wrong. Now I am focused on stability and longevity and make sure to plan for my future.

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

Having money is helpful for sure, but when you die you won’t look back and wish you worked more, you’ll likely wish you lived more. Studies show that after a baseline of financial stability, more money doesn’t make people happier. More living makes people happier.

What new business would you love to start?

I have committed to a new venture, of which I am extremely excited about: A Mommy Mission.

Extraordinary Mommies Make Extraordinary People.

In this country, there are certifications for professions as simple as florists. Yet the most important and challenging job that exists requires no license, certification or training.

Approximately 4 million mothers give birth per year, and there is no recognized “Mommy Manual.”

Many books teach what to expect and what to do, but few focus on how to be, the psychological, emotional and spiritual foundation of the mother, which is truly the basis for all experiences. Although mothers feel the truest, purest love for their children, the stress and challenges of motherhood often distract them from it.

My upcoming book, “Becoming Mommy: A Loving Guide to the Most Important Job there is,” is written from my perspective as new, vulnerable mother and trained psychotherapist, I summarize the ten core principles of my own extraordinary mother. Through engaging stories and examples, outlined lessons and chapter overviews, new mothers can quickly and deeply receive the golden nuggets of parenthood.

I am focused on PR and marketing for this book.

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

Tell myself to enjoy and trust the process. You are never done, there will always be more, focus on embracing what you have when you have it.

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?

You don’t have to know everything, be as vulnerable and authentic as possible and realize that we are all fellow journeyers learning together.

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

These books changed my life: “Power of Now”, “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckart Tolle, and “There’s Nothing Wrong with You” by Cheri Huber.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t assume all the “successful” people out there are smarter or better than you. Everyone is learning as they go, you just have to start.

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

Make a goal, like driving cross country to California from NYC. Start driving in that direction. You will have no idea what roadblocks and detours will arise, but you’ll keep figuring it out along the way. Your final destination may even change, perhaps you’ll decide to stop in Colorado. Regardless of the outcome, enjoy the ride.