August 30, 2020
In this session of The Personal Mastery Podcast, we speak with Vivian Kaye. She speaks about how important it is to become an expert in your niche because it not only helps you get a foot through the door, but it will also help with branding. How it truly is a great way to become more personal with your customer base.
Vivian is the Founder and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, she has built her business from the ground up to over 6 million in revenue. Vivian is a founder, mother, keynote speaker, and a coach. She has built multiple businesses from scratch and in today’s episode, we’re going to discuss how to start your ecommerce business, why it is important to niche down and how to build a community.
Arri Bagah: You're listening to the Personal Mastery podcast with Arri Bagah. Interviewing CEOs and executives who are performing at the highest level in their industry. Those who are living and working purposefully towards a vision in alignment with their values and in a state of constant learning about the self.
Arri Bagah: Welcome to another episode of the Personal Mastery podcast. And in today's episode, we have my good friend Vivian Kaye. She's the founder and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, a business she has bootstrapped to over six million dollars in revenue. She's a passionate mother who has started multiple seven figures businesses. And in today's episode, we're going to talk about how to start your e-commerce business, how to reach down properly, and how to build a community so that when you launch your business, you don't have to pay for it. Customer every single time. There's a lot of good stuff in this episode. So let's jump right in here thinking. Vivian, welcome to the show.
Vivian Kaye: Hey, well, I'm glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, you got a cool background there. Is that a real tree?
Vivian Kaye: No, that is not a real tree. But if you see me on Instagram, all those are real. That's my one fake tree because I don't have any actual daylight coming into my office. But yeah, no, it's on brand, eh? This is my brand.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. I've been thinking about getting a couple plans here to actually this morning. I'm like maybe I should, I could use a few plans here because yeah. I don't have any plants around me.
Vivian Kaye: Oh my goodness. They will brighten up your day without ever without you realizing it. You should get something that is like that suits your lifestyle though. Don't go and get any plant that just looks dope and then next thing you know is dead within a week because you don't have the right conditions for it. Right. So just keep an eye out for that, hopefully.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. And I think we're both born in the same country.
Vivian Kaye: Well, let's see. So I was born in Ghana. Oh, OK. Yeah, I know, but both my parents moms are from Togo. Oh, OK, yeah, so that's where that's where the Togo comes in, but yeah. Mm.
Arri Bagah: And. Yeah, when did you, like, move here?
Vivian Kaye: So I moved to Canada when I was a baby, so I was in my mom's lap, so I was about two years old. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So a baby, baby, baby, baby, baby.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. Only move here like it's almost ten years now. Wow. Yeah. Hasn't been too long actually, if you think about it.
Vivian Kaye: So what do you like, how do you think. Like what made you move here. Wait who show. Is this yours or mine. What made you move here, Arri.
Arri Bagah: I don't know why my mom was already here and she wanted me to just go to school here. So it just made sense. Yeah. And it's so funny because I ended up dropping out.
Vivian Kaye: Wow. And you know what's so funny? Same thing here. So I know with my parents are like, we didn't bring you here to do this, right?
Arri Bagah: Yeah. So you went to school. You're like middle school. High school. I'm assuming somebody. Is it the same like I know it's not the same set, you know. So up here we just have elementary school. So say, you know, kindergarten all the way to eighth grade and then high school, which is grade nine. And I'm older. So we used to have a grade thirteen, which was the basically the year it was a prep year for post-secondary. And so I did. I did. All the way to OAC, and interestingly enough, so back to the tieing in the whole Togo thing. So my parents sent me to French immersion from grade six all the way to see the end of high school, to learn French so that I could read the letters coming in from Togo asking for money, asking for Lajon, you know. So, yeah, that's that's a little side story.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. So did you you didn't go to well you graduated I guess, high school and then you went to college.
Vivian Kaye: Yeah. But so up here we there's a there's a it's very distinct. So there's college and then there's university. So after like and it's the same I guess the same difference that we really make that distinction up here. So college is more what do you want to call it, like more hands on trade, you know, that type of thing. Whereas universities, all books. Right. Or, you know, so the book, the book smarts. So I was the one who went to the book Smarts. So I went to university and then dropped out a year later.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, I think it was kind of the same set up in Togo where like when you hear someone is going to university, they're supposed to like be like very smart and stuff like that. And then when you hear someone's going to college or whatever.
Vivian Kaye: Yeah, yeah. They're just going to learn a trade or although, you know, trades and things are good things, I'm not sure why it's made out to be a bad thing, but yeah. Oh, maybe we should work on changing that. OK, maybe it's not our job.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. Yeah. So after dropping out did you like get into business or what did you do?
Vivian Kaye: I went straight to work because I was bilingual and I'm here, I'm based out of just based out of Toronto. So Canada is a bilingual country so English and French. And when you are bilingual you get that leg up on jobs because pretty much every company would require someone on their team that spoke French. So I was in jobs that I don't want to say I didn't have any business having, but I didn't have the education to be in that job. But I had the French and I had the charisma and I had the roll up my sleeves attitude to let them feel that I could I'm up to the task of doing whatever it is that they need me to do. So my first job out of after dropping out was customer service, working in a call center. And it was there and it was for a bank. And I was the only person in that department. Well, yes, because I was the only one that spoke French. So for that particular, because I worked for a section that back in the day before we had the swipe machines, people would call in with your credit card numbers and they would, you know, the opper, you know, the system would either say, yes, you know, approve or decline. And if it declined, I would be the next person that they would speak to. And I would tell them why I would try it again. And if it was the client, I would tell them why it was declined. So that was me.
Arri Bagah: Wow.
Vivian Kaye: That goes back. This is like twenty years ago now.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. So how did you get into business? Like, I know you started a decoration company.
Vivian Kaye: Yes, yes. Yes. So I was I'm one of four girls so I have three sisters and I'm the second oldest and the oldest one was getting married and she was the first one to get married. So we had hired a decorator from, you know, from a Ghanaian decorator, actually. And she said, oh, you know, I'll do everything for a thousand. So we're like, OK, cool. You know, everyone knew who she was. You know, that community, you know, those community people that everyone uses. So same thing. And then maybe about two weeks before her ah, her wedding, she said, oh, I'm going to need another thousand. But she didn't tell us why. She would just say, oh, I just need more money. And it's like, what do you mean more money? You need to tell us why. But she couldn't tell us why. And so then at the time we had to just hire another decorator because she was refusing to decorate the wedding for me for what she agreed to do originally. So that decorator was crap, plastic, and I thought to myself, why is it so complicated to hire a decorator within our community, within the gunnii in the West African community? And I wanted to I thought, you know, in my 9:00 to 5:00. So the 9:00 to 5:00 that I had while I was running the side hustle was I was a marketing coordinator for a franchise company, and I worked a lot with real estate agents. And I was this was when home staging really started to become a thing and I had some interest in there. But then I hated real estate agents. So I decided I don't want to do that. But I had an interest in decor. So I saw this I saw this gap in the market to provide decor that is simple but fabulous for four brides who didn't necessarily need to spend down payments on houses, on their wedding décor, like there's no need to be spending thirty thousand dollars on decor. That's a down payment for a house. Right. So so that's the niche that I catered to brides who wanted simple yet fabulous decor. And I literally started it by hiring a rental company. So a company that would rent out inventory, but they also would do setups. So I would hire them to do the setups. I did the customer support. So I would meet with brides. I would talk them into packages like I would sell things. I wasn't quite sure if I could do it, but I sold it and then would hire them to help me do the setups. And then I would watch them do the setups. And then eventually I took what they taught me and did it myself and made it my own and then grew that into a six figure business.
Arri Bagah: Wow. So before I actually like getting into making it like your main thing, like, so you were doing it on the side, so yeah, I was doing OK now.
Vivian Kaye: So I got I actually got let go from that job. So I'll tell you the story about that. Let me tell you a story about that.
Arri Bagah: Is it because of your French or?
Vivian Kaye: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Friends know what happened was the person who hired me on to that job was very similar to me. So he was very roll up your sleeves, get stuff, you know, get stuff done. Can we curse on this. Yeah. OK. Yeah, we'll get shit done. And he was someone who started off as an usher in the movie theater and worked his way up to like a VP of Cineplex, which is like our AMC or whatever the movie theater business. And he also was a college dropout. So he saw a lot of himself in me and hired me into that position knowing that I didn't have the qualifications, but I had the I'll figure it out a.. Right. And so then we were getting along fabulously. He knew about my he knew about my side hustle. He actually helped me get my first because at the time I was driving like, say, you know, a ninety-three Honda Accord or something. And he helped me upgrade into like an SUV so I could do my business. It was it's a crazy story. What he came with me to the car dealership and they he talked golf with the other white guy and and help get me a car. And so then he. He so he helped me do that, but then he got lured back to the movie business to go be like a VP. And so then they replaced him with like a more corporate soldier type of guy from Sears. So, you know, big difference between a guy who dropped out of high school and worked his way up and then the guy who's a corporate soldier, former corporate soldier for Sears. So he came in. He was very, you know, do everything by the book. But I was very hey, let's just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. So our values didn't really go together. So after about, you know, I think it was like six or eight months or something of working together, we just decided it wasn't working. And he was like, oh, well, you know, you have your business. So now I was like, oh, word. OK, cool. All right. And, you know, at the time I was you know, I was like, let's say I think I was 30 in my early 30s, so I had nothing to lose. Like I had no kids, I didn't have a mortgage. I didn't have anything to really worry about. So that was the time to just, you know what? I was already doing it half-assed. And I said, well, what if I just put my full ass into it and just go for it? So I did.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. And I feel like right now a lot of people are in a situation where, like when you don't have a job, like you don't have anything to lose. So you can do whatever you want to do. Right. So if you ever had, like, an idea like a business or crazy things that you want to try, I feel like right now is also like a perfect time to do that.
Vivian Kaye: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, so how did the decoration business lead into your current business, KinkyCurlyYaki?
Vivian Kaye: Well, it was while doing that business that so again, I'm in Toronto. I was serving I moved from serving my own community into the greater Toronto area, which is a very it's what was one of the most diverse cities in the world. So I was doing South Asian weddings, Italian weddings, you know, Middle Eastern ones. I was doing everyone's weddings. So I needed to look, quote unquote, presentable. And if you're a black woman, you sort of understand what that means. That means you need to have your hair looking a certain way as to not scare the white people. Right. So at the time. At the time. We were you know, we had a lot of women were was relaxing, they were relaxing their hair, so they were putting chemicals into their hair to make it look bone straight. But that's not the way our hair grows out of our heads. So a lot of times we wear what's called a protective style. So protective style is weaves, wigs, braids. So if you're seeing Beyonce or Oprah or Serena Williams, they are ninety-nine percent of the time wearing a protective style because that's just easier to manage than to deal with our own hair. So if you have any friends with curly hair or if you know any women with curly hair, you know, it takes them forever to do their hair. So for black women, it's that times ten. So and then plus the societal pressure to fit into that European beauty of stand, a standard of beauty. That's something that was something that we, you know, we've grown up having to live up to. But by the early 2000s or the early 2010s, we got tired of doing that shit. So I wanted to look I wanted to find hair extensions that looked like my hair and made me feel like myself. And what that means is that most hair extensions are of Indian origin. And then, of course, when you're of African descent, you typically have really tight coiled hair. So the hair doesn't really blend properly or doesn't match. And so it looks terrible. I wanted something that looked like my hair. So when I went looking for it on the websites, I found that it was buried underneath the silkier European looking textures. And I thought at the time, this is back in 2011. I thought at the time, why doesn't anyone just focus on just kinky textures? But because my business was doing so well, I sort of filed it in the back of my mind and I went about my business like I was I was not interested. You know, I'd already, you know, set up this first business by fluke and it was doing really well. I didn't want to jinx it by starting something else. Right. Yeah, but then what happened was I went to a meet-up like I went to a networking event and another black woman pulled me aside. This is while I was wearing it. So I'd done all my own Q.A. Like all that stuff. And I was now wearing a hair that I had found and a black woman pulled me aside and asked me who my hairdresser was and what my regimen was for keeping my hair looking the way it was. And I was like, girl, this is a weave. And she was like, wow, I would buy that. And that's when the light bulb went off because I thought, well, if I bought it and she would buy it, there's got to be at least a dozen other women who would buy it, too. So then in the down season of my wedding business in December of 2012, I launched KinkyCurlyYaki. I was just like, let's let's do it. Why not?
Arri Bagah: Yeah. So two things here. I think there is some sort of trend in the way you started the first business and the second business. Right. You were talking to the ideal customers and figure out like a need and came up with the solution. Right. And that's one of the things that it's so simple. Like you can just take a look around, like where you spend money or people that you're engaging with already and just find, like new business ideas.
Vivian Kaye: Yeah. You just really all of this is just solving your own problems. Like, look at what? Look at your pain points, like what is bothering you every day. What would make your life easier and do that? People were like, that's the one thing I always advocate with starting businesses don't start a business because it's on trend or someone's making millions of dollars because guess what? You're going to be stuck with that business whether you like it or not. So you might as well like it and have a genuine interest in it. But yeah.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. So recently you made a course for Shopify that talks about nicheing down, right? I watched it. I thought it was great content.
Vivian Kaye: Thank you. So.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, yeah. So you're like super like niched down like it's a specific type of hair for a specific type of people. So can you talk a little bit more about why it's important to niche now and why it's important to go as deep as possible?
Vivian Kaye: I will. Niching is really if you're starting a business, nicheing is what helps to get your foot in the door. So when you just start if you just launch a company and it's like, let's just say it's, I don't know, mugs or whatever this is, it's a water bottle, right. If you don't niche it, you're just going to get lost in the shuffle. You're going to get lost in the landscape because there's millions of water bottles. But if you specifically put this down to you're making colorful water bottles for people, for busy professionals who need to get their water intake and they want to do it in style, that's speaking to a very specific group of people. So one that makes your average type, that makes your how you actually capture that customer much cheaper because you're speaking to a very specific group. People, it makes sure it makes your marketing easier because, again, you know exactly who you're speaking to, but if you're just creating a problem, just going to sell water bottles, well, everyone uses a water bottle that doesn't make it any special. So what makes it what makes it special for that person is why you need to be shut down. So I'm a big advocate and nicheing it like even if it's the simplest thing, like a water bottle. Bring it down to the most basic reason why you're creating a water bottle, you're you're creating a water bottle because I don't know you're tired of you want something sustainable, OK, but I also want something sustainable and funky, OK? And I want something sustainable and funky and helps keep me on track of my water intake, like everything can be niched. So it's always better to go deep within a niche than it is to go wide because otherwise you're speaking to nobody. It's like lighting a match in the wind and thinking it's going to stay, you know, lit, but it's not it's just going to get blown out. But if you. I don't even know how I'm going to finish that analogy, but, you know, when you when you go deep within something and you really speak to a very specific group of people, you're going to create raving fans for that one, for that for that product, because they're like, wow, someone made this just for me. And those are the those are the best customers to have because that's what they're going to tell everyone they know about that product.
Arri Bagah: Oh, yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think, like, when it comes to like Neshin also helps with branding because, like, branding is all about connecting with that customer, like on the deeper level and because they feel that you're speaking directly with them and you're very specific about the problem that you're trying to solve. You connect with people a lot better, actually.
Vivian Kaye: Yeah. And that's what people crave. People don't necessarily buy products. They buy the connection. They buy the idea behind it. They buy the person, the lifestyle, whatever it is. The connection is what keeps people buying and buying and buying again from you.
Arri Bagah: And so I think one of the biggest problems that people have with nicheing now is that they're scared that, oh, I'm only going to have like one hundred thousand people or only a million people to market to as I like a problem or how do you kind of like solve that?
Vivian Kaye: It's understandable because it does feel like, oh, my goodness, no one's ever going to buy that product. But again, because you're marketing costs are lower, your branding will be more efficient and more succinct. You're speaking to a very specific person. They are going to be your biggest fans. So what you want to do? Listen, if you want to just use niche to get your foot in the door, then do that right, because what you're going to do is you're going to create this subset of customers who love you. So then let's just say if you start off with water bottles, let's just say next thing you want to do, stainless steel water bottles, guess what? Those customers will buy it because they already bought into your branding. They already bought into your why, right? And so I wouldn't be afraid. If you're afraid, then you shouldn't be in business, because that's what this is all about. Being in business is all about taking risks. And if you're not willing to solve a problem, to solve a pain point for one specific group of people and blow it out of the park, then why are you even doing it?
Arri Bagah: Hmm, yeah, I can totally relate with that, too, I think with my agency, too, we started out specifically doing text marketing for e-commerce businesses. Right. And my idea was that, like, if I went into the space and just did like ten different services, just like every other agency, like no one would care. But if I do something really specific, then people want to learn from it. And also you become even better at it because you only do that one thing.
Vivian Kaye: You become the expert. Like when I think of when I think of SMS marketing, I think of you because I know you're an expert and that's all you do. Whereas if you become like like you said, an agency that does OK, you do this and you do this and you do that, well, you're not going to do any of that stuff well, because you're too busy doing everything. But if you stick to one thing and do it really, really well, guess what? You people will remember you. Right, so now I always remember you as the SMS guy, right? People remember you, it's easier for you to market. You're going to save money in the long run and it's going to give your business focus, because if you're you're not chasing after the shiny new thing because, you know, all you do is SMS marketing. All you do is color for water bottles. That's it. You don't think you nothing shiny will attract you. So it's good. Don't be afraid. If you're if you're scared, then maybe find something else to do because this saying it right.
Arri Bagah: And is it possible to eventually go upmarket, like, if you like, very specific rate. Is it possible to over time expand an audience? Is that how long you usually recommend it? Because I think it's great to start small.
Vivian Kaye: Absolutely. Pendergraph absolutely get good. Like, that's the point of niche, right, is to get your foot in the door is to is to be so well-known for doing that one thing really, really, really, really well that when you're ready to drop that next thing, you already built the trust, you already built the audience. So they know, oh, whatever, whatever they're about to drop, I'm buying because they already established their expertise there, know how they're the trust in that first thing that they drop. So I'm going to trust them no matter what they drop next, as long as it makes sense. I don't go from water bottles to dog leashes. That doesn't make any sense unless the water bottles are for animals. That's a niche right there. That's me.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, it'll be very interesting to look at. That's a funny idea. The water bottles for dogs, for dogs,
Vivian Kaye: Colorful water bottles, I think about it. And then you got matching leashes and then you can get matching toys like you can make it a whole thing. Again, you speaking to a very specific group of people who love their dogs and they like colorful stuff.
Arri Bagah: Yeah. And you might think that you're the only one who has that problem, but there's probably hundreds of thousands of people who have that same problem. And I think that's where people tend to, like, not jump into it because they feel that, oh, I'm the only person who has that problem.
Vivian Kaye: Oh, if you think about it, like, listen, Amazon started out selling books, only books, and they got really good at selling books. And now look where they are now. Of course, Amazon is the exception and not the norm. But if you use them as a case study or even any big brand that you see today, they started out with one thing. Apple started up with a desktop computer. You know, Coke started out with Coke, right? Google started out with just a search engine, like everyone got really, really good at doing that one thing. And then once they got once they were basically synonymous with whatever that thing is, then they could branch out into other things.
Arri Bagah: Mm hmm. Yeah. And you've been able to grow this business, too. Well over seven figures a year. I just wanted to talk about some of the lessons that you've learned along the way, obviously. Hmm.
Vivian Kaye: So you like about the lessons, man. Yeah, the lessons I've learned along the way.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, maybe like top three lessons,
Vivian Kaye: Top three. Yeah, yeah, let's do that, because we could be here all day. Top three I would say is follow. I would say follow your gut. You know, your business like you know your business, you know it inside out, and then sometimes when you start to when you start to bring in other people into your business, they you know, especially even if you've communicated the vision of the business, sometimes they don't quite they don't quite have it. So sometimes you got to make decisions and, you know, in your gut that that's not the right decision to make. Follow that follow that gut. Because every single time I have made a decision that I knew in my gut, which was not the right decision to do, it backfired. So that's one thing. So follow follow your gut, follow your intuition, number two, don't be worried about motive being motivated all the time because you're not going to be motivated all the time. Motivation is dependent on how you feel. So what you really should keep focus on is consistency, it's doing the shit you don't want to do day in and day out that will get you through. Right, so it's not about oh, well, I feel like doing this today and you did it today, but guess what? You're not going to feel like doing it next week, but you have to do it. So consistency over motivation. And then finally, just as an overall like an overarching thing, being an entrepreneur is not a sprint. It is a marathon. So it's sort of like number two. But I just want to reiterate that because, you know, if you watch YouTube enough, these guys will have you thinking that you're going to be should have been a millionaire, you know, six months ago after you took their three thousand dollar webinar. Right? It is not that is not the reality. Their business is based on taking your money and not actually growing an actual business and making it sustainable. So you have to remember that being an entrepreneur is a marathon and it's not a sprint.
Arri Bagah: Mm hmm. Yeah, those are some great points, and I think I recently had Matt Higgins from the Shark Tank on the show, and one of the things he said, which goes back to your first point, is it's not about looking at or what you people know or like what does this person think about how I should run my business? It's about, you know, like what do I know? Like looking into yourself to figure out, OK, how can I follow my intuition? How can I make the right decisions? Because like everybody out there is telling you what to do, like every day, right. There's tons of videos like how to run a business. Is that something that you agree with?
Vivian Kaye: Like, well, yeah, I agree with that. Like, it's not anyone that promises you a blueprint to do something is lying because, one, you're you're not going. You are not them. They are not you. You're not going to run your business the way they did to you don't have the same motivations. Right. So or you're the same. Why. Right. So you cannot compare yourself to that person. And then lastly, it's just going to do you a huge disservice to follow a blueprint. Because what worked for them won't necessarily work for you and really the key to success in being an entrepreneur is in learning from the stuff that you failed at, right? It's in learning, it's it's growing, and when you fail at something, you're like, OK, cool, you know what? If that didn't work out, but what did I learn from that? And that makes you more confident, then you're able to make informed decisions in your business. So all these people who are saying, oh, I'm going to teach you how to make a million dollars in 30 days if you follow my blueprint, doing you a huge disservice, because really, again, the key to success is in learning to trust yourself to make the right decisions for your business.
Arri Bagah: And that comes from like also taking action quickly, right? Yeah. It's like you need that feedback loop to know, OK, this is what I did. This is why I didn't work. And this is what I learned from it. Because if you're not taking action, then pivot. Yeah. Nothing nothing happens if there's no action.
Vivian Kaye: Yeah. If you need to pivot. Pivot. So if you started out with water bottles for people and it's not working for them, the dogs.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, so you've been able to run this business profitably. Is there a way to set up your business to be profitable from day one? Because that's something that businesses are struggling with today, especially the ones that are raising tons of money. Is there like a secret sauce or some different ways that you've been able to start profitability?
Vivian Kaye: Well, I didn't raise any money. So that's that's the first thing I started. You see this this Rubbermaid bin back here? Yeah. So I have this is the exact one, but I have one at home. But it's what it's how I started. My business is where I started my business. Someone would buy one. I would take that money and buy two. So that's an I started from zero so I bootstrapped my business to over six million in sales by myself without any outside capital and without anything. I literally just literally I bought one. I would buy two. Someone would buy ten. I'd buy 20. Like that's how I built my business. So I would say start lean, especially if you're an e-commerce store. Don't get seduced by all the apps. You don't need all those apps. It's going to slow down your store and it's just going to like, you know, you think, oh, just five bucks a month, that's five dollars, you know, amplifies. Right. Like, it adds up. So be wary of the apps, so just run as lean as possible, do as much as you can as the start-up, run yourself ragged. If you've got a nine to five, then you're working on this. You're working on your business from five to nine or five to two or whatever it is. Do as much as you can until you can't do it anymore. And then. You know your business so well that when you start to hand off the reins to other people, you know exactly who you need to hire. You're not going to hire an agency. You're going to hire a Facebook guy. And all he does is Facebook ads, not he does some Google paid ads, not. He does some Pinterest. No, all he does is Google. And you're going to pay him for that expertise. And he's not going to cost you an arm and a leg because he just does that. And that's all he does for your business. Right. But at least you have a good idea of what's happening in your business. So when you go to hire all these experts, no one's rinsing you. Right. So I would say start leaving. Do as much as you can, as long as you can. Like I hit I started my business in December of 2012. I hit my first million in November of twenty sixteen. So that was four years of me doing this. And actually I hired my first employee in June of twenty sixteen and then by November I hit my first million. But that's because I was able to now work on the business instead of in the business. And so but you need to go through all that in order to to get there if you want it to be sustainable.
Arri Bagah: Mm hmm. Yeah, that's what I like the idea of bootstrapping, because you learn so much from it, because it's your own money. Right. Like at the end of the day, you have to pay the bills. You can't let it fail. So it really allows you to watch your money, save your money and be invested back into business. Otherwise, you're just going to go out of business.
Vivian Kaye: And you know what the when the you know, the win like your it'll just be that much juicier. Like to know like I even realized I didn't know that I bootstrapped until twenty eighteen. I didn't know what that meant. I just thought, I thought everybody was building a million dollar e-commerce businesses. But it turns out they're not. But and that's another thing, you know when you're looking at all these people are like yeah I can help you build a million dollar business. Is it profitable. Ask them how much are they, what's their, what are their margins like? I ask them that because you can make a you can easily make a million dollars. But are you making money? Right, so, yeah.
Arri Bagah: Now I want to get into community building a little bit here because your business is based on community building, right Having that community of people who are interested in the product, is there a right way or wrong way to start building a community?
Vivian Kaye: Well, I was building a community before. That's what it was called. So because I was trying to solve my own problem, which is finding kinky textured hair extensions, I was in black hair care forums and Facebook groups. And being Vivian, I was just being myself. And so I sort of built up this reputation. And it's funny because when I launched KinkyCurlyYaki, I didn't tell anyone it was me. And what happened was someone outed me and said, oh, you know, this girl who's been in our Facebook groups is the one behind this company. And she thought everyone would be like, oh, my God, now we hate her. They were like, oh, all the more reason to support her because I had a reputation. Right. So I built up the community without even realizing it. And then once I was quote unquote outed, then I use that to my advantage because a lot of companies, particularly in this hair, the black hair care space, are owned by black people. So I was able to speak directly to my consumers or my customers because I am the customer, I get high on my own supply. So I'm able to, you know, I'm able to speak in tones and say things that only they would understand. And they know that I understand. Whereas a lot of these other companies now, like even I just we just found one yesterday who stole all the pictures off our website, took all the words off. They took all the copy off our website. But we know for a fact it's not a black woman because you decide that's the magic sauce. That's what makes KinkyCurlyYaki me. We can't duplicate that. So I'm able that's that's where I went and I reinforced that in the brand. Like I let people know I am just like you girl. I am your girlfriend selling you this product or I'm not even selling it. I'm providing you with this product and you just so happen to be paying me for it.
Arri Bagah: And yeah. And the first thing that I like there is you were in the groups and you're adding value to people, right? You were answering questions and that's what goes into community building. Like, you have to actually provide the content. And I think a lot of you become an expert. Yeah. Yeah. So you have to know your stuff. You have to speak directly to the customers and actually add value because a lot of marketers are looking to build a community without creating any content or adding any value like.
Vivian Kaye: So you just want to roll up in a Reddit forum but think that you'll here's my product boom and think people are going to buy it. Know what you need to do is you need to have been in that sub Reddit for a hot minute, providing value, answering questions, becoming the expert. And then when you do drop that product, oh, it's a no brainer. Of course, I would buy it from that person because he's proven that he knows what the fuck he's talking about.
Arri Bagah: And that really helps if, like, launching two, because, like, you can launch profitably out the gate because you have people wanting the product, because I think for the brands are either raising money or launching the product before having an audience. The difficulty is that they have to pay for a customer every single time. And that's the main reason why most brands are profitable today.
Vivian Kaye: And it drives me nuts because I wasn't I don't I had the audience. I had the proof. I have the you know, I have the profit. But I wasn't able to get money because they were so busy, focused on some unicorn that they thought was going to blow it out of the park. And now those unicorns are dead. Sorry, unicorns.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, so now growing this business and being an entrepreneur, we all know what it takes. Are there specific things that you do, whether that's like a routine that really helps you in, like taking action or performing at a high level every day?
Vivian Kaye: Well, I did have one until covid hit it, because that sort of threw me, threw me for a loop because, you know, up until then I had like a whole gym routine. I had a gratitude journal. Like, I had a whole thing going. It was going great. And then boom, because I'm a single mom. So I have a six year old son and he you know, he's home. So it's like, OK, now I can't I can't do all the you know, all the routine things that I used to do. I started working from home, like right here I'm in my office, whereas, you know, there I was working from home. So now I'm starting to get back into the swing of things. But one of the things I do is I work out I that's my that's my it's my antidepressant. Right. It makes me feel better. It helps me focus. It helps me think clearly. I also journal my do manifestations and I do affirmations. I tap into more of my spiritual side because as a woman I feel like I have a lot of a lot of intuition, like a lot of things that tell me what to do. And I just need to tap into that. So I focus on that. I focus on joy. You know, I do things that make me happy and bring me and bring me joy. And I read all I well, I used to read a lot, I used to listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks, but I'm not going anywhere. My kids are short now. But, yeah, I know there's if there's one thing you know about being an entrepreneur is to get a routine because, again, it's that consistency. Doing the things you need to do day in and day out is what's going to that's one of the keys to success.
Arri Bagah: So are your routines more focused on making? Obviously, you fit work in between, but kind of doing things that make you happy? Because I think like like people sometimes like I've heard, like wake up, I read in from work. I like 4:00 in the morning and like nine or ten. Yeah. I mean that's like what school and entrepreneurship. Right. Just wake up before him every day and then just hustle until you ask those people they're happy.
Vivian Kaye: Ask those people if they're happy. Right, no, I listen, I wanted this life so I could have the freedom to do what I wanted to do, obviously everything that I do isn't what I want to do. But I would say I'm relatively happy because I get to do a lot of things that make me happy. So, I mean, if that's what that works for you, that works for you, but that that's not me. I'm not part of that five a.m. or four a.m. club I got I'm a night owl. I'm up till two, three o'clock in the morning because that's when my brain goes like that's when all the the ideas come to me. But yeah.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, it's kind of like I love it. Yeah. So that's like when I first started, like I was doing the whole four a.m. thing which I liked because they helped me build a lot of discipline. But I just it wasn't like making me happy. So I like completely changed my routine. Now I just like to do things, just work on myself in the morning and even after work and just try to fit work in between it instead of like doing work and then just trying to fit personal stuff within, like your routine.
Vivian Kaye: I mean, that's the reason why you became an entrepreneur. Right. So I know that's a good that's a good way to think of it, Arri.
Arri Bagah: Well, on that note, thanks so much for being on the podcast. And where can people find you?
Vivian Kaye: I am an absolute pleasure to follow on Instagram. I'm on Twitter, but I come across better on Instagram. My stories are legit so you can find me on Instagram at its Vivianne K, it's Vivia and Kawaii. I have a show called IGTV Show called Mind Yo Business with Vivian Kaye. It's a weekly show where I talk about everything related to your business, your mindset and making money. So that's a show that I do on IGTV. Every I drop a new episode every Friday. So if you're coming from every show, slide into my DMs and say, what's up? Don't be afraid to say hi.
Arri Bagah: Yeah, we'll definitely link that your Instagram and Twitter and all the other links in the description. Now, before we end here, if you're listening on iTunes or Spotify, there is a an extra portion of this podcast that is only available on YouTube. So I'm going to ask you two extra questions. So if you want to get an answer to those two questions, head over to YouTube.
Arri Bagah: I really hope you enjoy this episode with Vivian. If you're listening on Spotify or iTunes, make sure to follow this podcast and give us a five star review. And as always, thanks again for listening to another episode of the personal Nasserite podcast.