Raj Girn: On this week’s branding and marketing-themed show, I’m going to be deep-diving into why brand diversification is today’s number one marketing strategy. To help me do this, please welcome to the show the founder of Infuse Med Spa and InfuseDerm, Kavita Suri, who is a long time inner circle entrepreneur and friend who has used diversification strategy throughout her professional career to grow and expand her business, which we will be dissecting next.
This is Part Two of our conversation:
Raj Girn: You just touched upon something that I want to dive into a little bit because it really was relevant for you and that’s the pandemic lockdowns. They had the biggest effect on the beauty industry by keeping spas closed.
Kavita Suri: One year.
Literally, until the end of the pandemic, your industry was the one that was on lockdown. So this is what I want to touch upon. So many people had massive challenges during this time in your industry and in all businesses that were brick and mortar. Even closures. So many businesses just couldn’t survive the longevity of the lockdowns.
My ask of you here is: You saw this lockdown as another opportunity to diversify your business brand through leveraging your personal brand to launch an e-commerce beauty store with a twist. And this is what I found to be very interesting, that I feel that everyone watching, listening or reading this really need to pay attention to, because especially if you are on the other side of this, where you haven’t yet kind of figured out how to make business online from where you are with your brick and mortar or to maybe even diversify your your business opportunity so that you have both going on. I want you to listen to this part of the story.
Kavita, can you share what the twist was of your e-commerce beauty store that kind of helped you use your personal brand to heavy lift that transition from the brick and mortar to this online enterprise that you started? Can you talk a little bit about that?
Absolutely. So, again, that was created through knocking on the doors of my customers. So we went into lockdown March 2020, realizing we may opened April 14. April 14 came along and I was like, “We’re not opening. It’s not happening people.”
I love the fact that we can laugh at this.
Oh, there is a time when none of us were laughing. We were like, “This is just inhumane.” So it was April last year. So I was like I’ve got to do something. I’m going to just do some Zoom consults. That blew up. It was insane. But at the time, in April, Dermaquest is a line that we carry, and Beauty D is the line that does a lot of my lashes and Eye Envy, they created this system called dropship for us to send products to our clients. So really, I would just do virtual consultations and it would be extremely important because I treat them as if they come into the spa and we just go through an entire breakdown. And then I would do a product suggestion and these girls were buying $400 to $500 worth of products.
Because they then realized that I need to take care of me. It only really took like six weeks for them to be like waking up to put the fire under their bum to be like, I need me. I want to take care of myself and looking at myself in the mirror because I have nowhere else to look. So it was then in November. So it took me about four or five months to then watch launch the Beauty Market, which you can find under the Infuse Med Spa website and it’s a beauty concierge service. This is something where you book yourself in for a consult. It’s complimentary. And then what we do is we do the consultation, so it’s more of the presence of that service that are offered in April is now available online, and it does show the highlight products that you can purchase and repurpose.
“It really took like six weeks for them, to be like waking up to put the fire under their bum, to be like, I need me. I want to take care of myself and looking at myself in the mirror because I have nowhere else to look.” ~Kavita Suri
We have codes that you can use to get free shipping or you get discounts. And I love it. I’m glad that I launched the beauty concierge service. And I ran it by you before I launched it and you were like it is the duty concierge service. So this is what the Beauty Market offers within the online presence of my business. And I’m happy with that. I’m happy that I did that.
You know, and I want to kind of share with everyone Kavita, the thing that has me beaming and why I’m so happy is that just think about this for a moment. I think about the entire conversation that we’ve been having about brand diversification and humanizing connection and the challenge between brick and mortar and online.
When it comes to that communication it’s easy to do it when you’re in front of a person physically because you pick up on the energy and there’s just a different vibe. And it’s times 10 harder to accomplish that same energy flow between people when you’re doing it online.
And the beauty concierge was a genius idea for you to be able to create that connection by leveraging your personal brand and your skill set and your expertise to keep people feeling good about the beauty regime and making sure that the products and services that they’re used to getting are still available.
I also had a great response when we reopened. The girls were like, “We saw you online. We saw you doing your thing. Thank you for staying present, not disappearing and all.” I was like, “No girls I got you.” Even if it was the IG lives that we were doing or tips or whatever it is that they found community in my business. And I wanted to bring that community to them now online and now in personal empowerment, which we thought they wanted the community from me.
And that’s the key here. I feel that is kind of that next level brand authority and loyalty raise when you take that extra special step to ensure that the service they’re used to having, whether it be brick and mortar, whether it be online, is no different other than the obvious.
So let me ask you this. Based on this, anyone out there that’s been brick and mortar and hasn’t really figured out how to transition online, what are the main differences from your experience in setting up a brick and mortar enterprise versus an online one?
A lot of it with the online in the beauty industry is being relatable. So I’m not just saying this is a vitamin C product, buy it. Am I going to buy it? There has to be that she’s an expert. So what are you, an expert in? An expert in eyelashes? So you’re an expert in eyelashes. So you’re going to start focusing on why you believe in these products, because this is what clients want to do, that she looks good. She has it going on. I want what she has. Give it to me. But you still have to understand that in this whole online whatever, like Instagram or consultations, you have to be with them.
You can’t be like I’m the expert, I’m untouchable. Guess what, no one’s going to touch you. So you have to be. I’m a city girl. I’m out there, I’m walking on Yonge Street. I’m no different than you. I put my makeup on a little bit more attentively, but I’m still the same person. I still go through the same struggles. I’m going to make you feel beautiful because this is what my service is.
So whatever it is within you, in your cap, your arena, you have to look at that. If it is everyone still asking you about your lip care, your your skin care, your hair, run with it and make it online and make it as reliable as possible and not make it so product-focused. Personality branding is a thing. It’s just the way you do it. Everyone has their own little unique way to do it.
And you said something that I want to make sure that everybody really takes home with them after this conversation. And that is regardless of what you’re selling, whether it’s a product or service, your service to that service, your service to that product is the game changer here. Any tips, Kavita, on how someone can leverage say, brick and mortar to grow the online or people who have online that are looking to go brick and mortar? How does the leverage game work here with these two very different ways that you can tap into someone’s brand?
Your leverage is in your client. Your network is your net worth. And it’s the truth. So if you’re leveraging, you’ve got a very successful spa. You know you have clients that are invested. They’re are going to be invested in your next move. And vice versa if it’s online, you know your clients are invested.
If you can see on your reports most of your buying behaviours are in Oakville, open up a shop in Oakville. Start doing pop up shops. Don’t be afraid to do subleases. Get out there. Get your feet out there. Do it. There’s so many options. We’ve never been in a situation where pop-up shops are something. I mean, my first one was a sublease in a spa. And I did it and I succeeded.
I think what I’m hearing you say here is that there’s no any which one way of accomplishing the same goal is looking at the opportunity that’s knocking the opportunity that is best suited to where you’re at.
There you go.
Right. And sometimes it’s a financial decision, right, Kavita? And we can’t afford to have these big locations or spend tens of thousands of dollars on these massive e-commerce websites. And this is where you have to be realistic about what your resource pool is and see where you can start in the game, right?
And be realistic. Don’t be that person that’s like “I need the biggest . . .” No, guess what, it’s going to be too big for you to chew on and you’re not going to be able to do it, and you don’t want that.
Absolutely, and you want success, guys, and success is best accomplished when you understand what you’re doing and you can see and you can measure the results in baby steps.
“Success is best accomplished when you understand what you’re doing and you can see and you can measure the results.” ~Raj Girn
There you go. Measure your result.
Absolutely. So, Kavita, we’ve had quite the conversation. I feel that there’s so many different directions that we can go in. But for those people who are just joining us, I want to first tell you guys to stop and I want you to rewind this back. And I want you to start from the beginning, because I want you to pay heed to the small but very intentional steps of the diversification strategy that Kavita was on that has gotten her to where she is today.
And to just a recap on that, her skill set is a big part of her brand diversification, having started in the bridal glam, then into fashion and editorial glam, then moving into celebrity glam, then expanding her skill set to include beauty and skin care services, which then led to her opening up her med spa before creating her personal brand, which then she leveraged to convert her existing consumer and client base and increase both to an e-commerce store that was still focused on creating and establishing and cultivating a personal relationship.
Looking back, can you share the mindset that you cultivated to go from a service provider to an entrepreneur? Because that’s like a huge leap that sounds easy to do on paper, and it also is the most daunting task for someone to go from predictable income to income that completely relies on them.
So I want to ask you from your perspective, how did you accomplish that? Maybe some people out there who are sitting on the fence, they’ve been service-providing for many years. They just haven’t quite made that leap into entrepreneurship. What is the mindset that changed the game for you?
It’s very simple, actually. It’s trusting yourself, trusting in your faith, trusting in exactly the services or the business that you offer and believing in that. So, a lot of us who perform a service to entrepreneur switch, we start looking at financial statements and start looking at firm projections. I’ve never done that. I don’t believe in that. The lockdown is a great example where a lot of people are like this is my year goal. Stuff changes. The one thing that’s not going to change is the trust in your service and the trust in your product and your brand and how you have complete control over your audience at that point. How are you going to prove it? How are you going to listen to what they need and how are you going to make that elevate your brand and your business?
“The one thing that’s not going to change is the trust in your service and the trust in your product and your brand and how you have complete control over your audience at that point.” ~Kavita Suri
I love that you said that. And that’s the thing, right? Oftentimes when people think of becoming an entrepreneur, they think, “Oh, my God balance sheet. And I just need to know all the checkmarks. I need to know how to do everything.” But you don’t because and that’s the other thing. And I was speaking to a marketing thought leader a couple of weeks ago, Kavita.
And I want to share this, where he said he can’t remember the last time he put together a marketing plan because literally within days, within hours, the whole game just changes because that’s the thing about the online enterprise. And that’s also the thing about how technology is constantly disrupting the space. And it’s also the thing about we don’t know when all of a sudden something like a pandemic can come out of the blue.
Anything. We don’t know anything.
Absolutely. So I love that you said that. And you know that that trust game, you know that leap of faith as scary as it is. And this is the thing about entrepreneurs. It’s funny because somebody asked me many years ago that, you know, like, you know, you didn’t have a business degree.
You didn’t have a journalism degree. You don’t have a journalism degree and you don’t know any celebrities. How are you going to start a media company? And my strategy was not like all of these data imprints and plans and stuff.
I went with a gut feeling that my community needed to be represented. And I knew that all I have to do is jump off that cliff. And before I hit the ground, I’ve just got to just figure out how I’m going to land.
I think we’re still doing that.
We’re still doing that, sweetheart. And I’m not saying be reckless with that thought process.
No, no, don’t be reckless. Or rude or mean about it. Be smart and trusting. Be in the form of light, and just go for it,.
Absolutely. So I want to ask you this question: Why do you feel it’s important in today’s economy for people to own their own job description as an entrepreneur rather than let someone else own it as an employee?
That is such a great question. I think, first of all, it’s your personal happiness and your personal freedom. And personal freedom doesn’t mean, “Oh, I make my own schedule. The girls and guys watching this, and Raj knows this, I’m pounding the pavement sometimes 12 to 13 hours, two to three weeks in. But it gives you the personal freedom to make choices and not to have someone’s hand on you when you can take a break, when you need to be checking it out, when you take vacations.
It’s sometimes just not cut out for people. Some people are okay with that nine to five, come home. I don’t want to be an independent person. I don’t want to worry about my hydro bill, my energy bill or whatever. I’m okay doing that. I’m always standing up for business and saying for the money that I make in my business. Again, it takes a personality to do that. But to be your entrepreneur, it’s next-level empowerment.
But even looking back you’re like “How did I do that? How did I get here? Because there isn’t that you’re now three years into your job, you’re going to be promoted into a supervisor. There isn’t that you’re going to be promoted to being a better business person and a very successful entrepreneur.
And that’s the game-changer right there for anyone that’s sitting on the fence, that’s the game. It is right there. So, Kavita, we’re getting close to the end of our time together. Boo hoo.
And I want to kind of touch upon one of the diversifications that your brand has gone through. And this is your mentorship of women. You know how to set up an establish and grow a beauty business in the brick and mortar as well as the online space. Let’s talk about that now, just kind of as that next brand diversification strategy that you’ve kind of started to go into because people are coming to you and it’s because you’re a subject matter expert in your arena.
Can you share with everyone why you chose to take on this kind of mentorship and why it’s important to you to kind of do that today at this point in your career?
Well, I mean, I think it’s going to become good or a master at what you do you have to share your expertise because I believe in this thing called karma currency. So it’s like I don’t want to hang around with people that are greedy with their success. I want to be around women and men that want to share their tips, their knowledge, their way in their journey of how they got successful. This is going to help me and I want to be able to help someone else.
“You have to share your expertise, because I believe in this thing called karma currency.” ~Kavita Suri
But because of what I do and where and how I started, I don’t sit in the mindset where I say, “Well, I didn’t have that help and I did this all by myself, so I’m not going to go help someone else.” Guess what? You’re not going to be successful in life and anything that you do. I’m here to help women in the beauty industry. I do offer masterclasses when it comes to your business projects or if it’s business branding, whether it’s with your products or your services, I can help you with that. Why do I want to help you with that?
Because it’s my calling and it’s just something I want to do. It’s something that I can offer. When I did start my training in 2008 a lot of people were like you’re giving your secrets away. I’m like, no, no, she’s not me and I’m not her. I’m just giving her a blueprint and she can run with it. What do I have to lose? Nothing.
Kavita, there are seven billion people on this planet. I think there are enough clients for all of us. Right?
So if someone wanted to work with you as a mentor in this particular capacity, what should they expect to get out of that kind of relationship with you? And what would some of your expectations be to qualify them?
So basically, each client is treated as an individual. So there’s a client right now. She has a product and she is really good at doing products of what we’re doing we’re walking her through on how to build that product with your client, how to get that product in the client’s hands. And so we’re working on different strategies on doing that. For example, if it’s your service-related, we talk about, okay a lot of people have that mindset: I’m going to open up a spot. I need to offer alternative services.
No, you don’t. Offer the services that you’re actually very good at. And then maybe in about two or three years, you offer the other services just to bring in that, because you’ve built your reputation for that one service that you’re so good at. So everything’s sort of in the beauty industry. There are so many umbrellas and services to offer. It’s just not one thing. I’m an accountant, so I need help to become a better accountant. I’m a lawyer. I need coaching on how to become a better lawyer with beauty.
It’s a whole different thing. It comes with services and it comes with products. And it’s just like who you are and who your clientele is and how you’re going to do the top-down sort of way.
Absolutely. And a lot of what could be re-sharing here in terms of mentorship this really is something that you can transfer this knowledge over into other industries as well, because cool benchmarks of business, a business strategy, and what comes first, second and last and when you should diversify, when you should look at scaling, all of that tend to have similar benchmarks.
So if you’re listening to this and you’re like, this doesn’t apply to me, it does. If you listen to everything that we’ve been speaking about today, although we’ve been housing it within the beauty industry arena, all of those benchmarks that we’ve been speaking about really can translate over into any business. So really take heed of this.
And, guys, if there’s someone in your ecosystem that you feel could really do with listening to this, I really want you to send them the links to this is really important that we share the knowledge and that we’re able to help people not make mistakes when they are kind of opportunities that can help you understand the right way to do things.
Kavita, if anybody wants to book a discovery call with you to see if working with you would be the right fit for them. And if they are within the wheelhouse that you feel that you could mentor, how can they do that?
So they can just send an email directly to the spa. So it’s [email protected] and then we’ll have it taken care of from there.
Brilliant. And I got to ask you this before we get ready to close off: Any myths that you want to bust regarding branding strategy, to build the business that you’ve seen people talking about on the Internet all the time that you’ve learned through experience is in fact not true? Is there one or two things that jump out at you that you want to share with people?
Well, I think that a lot of what I see is that the more followers you have, the more successful you are. That’s the biggest . . . No way. I mean, I’ll just leave it at that.
You can leave it at that. But let me expand on that a little bit, because I get that all the time. When people come to me, they think building a brand is getting a large fan base. Building a brand is to help you leverage anything that you’re putting out there to the right audience to create authority in yourself and loyalty in them. Remember that guys and I have so many people that because I have worked with celebrities, thought leaders, multinational corporations, the local business, media houses, you name it.
I’ve worked with over the last 20 years that I’ve been in this kind of media marketing and branding and event space. One thing that I’ve learned, if you don’t know how to leverage your skill set and you don’t know who to leverage it with, it doesn’t matter if you have a million people in your ecosystem or if you have 10, you won’t succeed. And we’ve seen it. We’ve seen it oftentimes. There are people that will be micro-influencers. Why are brands going and paying good micro-influencers today? It’s because they know that audience is legitimately loyal to them. Right?
“If you don’t know how to leverage your skill set and you don’t know who to leverage it with, it doesn’t matter if you have a million people in your ecosystem or if you have 10, you won’t succeed.” ~Raj Girn
And then you could have people that have like half a million or a million followers, but they’re not making a dime off their fan base because their objective isn’t to be serious about the knowledge and the expertise and to really give the goods. Their goal is to create an image of who they are that is aspirational. But aspirational not being attached to something doesn’t have worth. I know that people will kick my ass for making that statement, but I feel it needs to be made because I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with people on both sides of that.
So let me ask you this then, sweetheart: What do you feel people need to take away from our discussion today about why brand diversification is today’s number one marketing strategy?
Well, I mean, I think the number one thing with that is that you have to stay present, you have to stay on par with the changes with marketing and online, but it doesn’t mean that there is a perfect way to do it. What it means that you have to get started and it will find you. You’ll find it. It will find you. You’ll find it connecting the dots, like you said earlier, and then having discussions with the right people to to refine exactly where you need to go.
Absolutely. Is there anything that you feel like we missed that you feel that you’d like to share before we close off Kavita?
No, actually, I just want to thank you for having me on your show. And exactly what you’ve been doing in this industry for the past 20 years is that you bring us entrepreneurs or stars and celebrities and thought leaders to platforms, and we can be the voice to someone that’s listening today. So thank you for that.
So thank you so much, sweetheart. I really appreciate that. And that really is what I’ve been doing, is creating platforms to help people empower themselves and to shine, right? Yeah. And that’s what I’m doing here with you. And thank you so much, sweetheart.
And that’s what I’m doing here with The Open Chest Confidence Academy is just the same intention, just a different way of arriving at the same goal. So Kavita, to close off, how can people hang out with you? Give them your social handles so they can see all the good stuff that you’re doing right now.
Well, it’s interesting because getting a service me is hanging out with me. So that’s where that starts.
I love it. I love that.
Well, it’s true, right? When you come in or whoever comes in, it’s like a thing. It’s like da da da da da. It’s like did we even do a treatment? Yes, we did. Come on in. I love to see you in person. We do have the social handles it’s @infusemedspa and @kavitasuribeautyinc as well. And you know, I do post when I’m nice restaurants or where I’m heading out to. That’s on @kavitasuribeautyinc social and then @infusemedspa is the beauty services.
That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Thank you, Raj.
Of course, sweetheart. And, you know, opening up your journey for my audience to learn from is truly a gift, and I’m sure it’s been an eye-opener for many people that have been watching, listening or reading this.
Folks thanks so much for hanging out with Kavita and me today. I really hope that you got some real value from our discussion and that you understand on some level how absolutely crucial brand diversification is to your bottom line and the parameters to staying deep rather than wide to ensure that you don’t dilute your brand authority either.
For more training like this, please subscribe to our YouTube channel at The Open Confidence Academy. On podcast platforms at Apple, Google and Spotify, search the ‘Transform Your Confidence Show’ and I also encourage you to join our free coaching newsletter community. Just head over to the website at theopenchestconfidenceacademy.com/newsletter. And for those of you who want to be a part of our free professional development incubator where I personally answer the questions, I want you to head over to Facebook and join Transform Your Confidence.
Until next week, take care of yourself.