Meet Candice Galek, the model-turned-founder of Bikini Luxe, your go-to shop for the cutest bikinis, cover-ups, and clothing to achieve that effortless beach babe look.
When she took to LinkedIn to build a personal brand and promote her line of bikinis, she provoked a controversial debate that went viral on the professional network, netting her sales, exposure, new connections, and bylines in publications like Inc. Magazine.
On this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn how it all happened and why she's building a personal brand and a business brand at the same time with content marketing.
- How to outsource your content marketing.
- The difference between managing a team of interns versus a team of employees.
- How to use Polyvore to drive traffic and sales.
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
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Felix: Today I’m joined by Candice Galek from BikiniLuxe.com. Bikini Luxe is your go-to shop for the cutest bikinis, cover-ups and clothing to achieve that effortlessly put together beach babe look. It was started in 2013 and based out of Miami Beach, Florida. Welcome, Candice.
Candice: Bikini Luxe is known for selling designer swimwear and these amazing brands that you don’t find at your local store. A lot of what we sell is higher end. They’re pieces that you would wear if you were going on vacation or if you were going away for a special occasion like an anniversary, a bachelorette party maybe, just a girls trip with all of your best friends, and that’s what we’ve been known for. Now as we’ve grown we’ve expanded on to resort wear and clothing, activewear, lingerie, jewelry, accessories, the whole deal. We’re a one stop shop for all of your luxury vacation needs.
Felix: Very cool. How did you get started in this? Did you have a background in this kind of industry?
Candice: I started Bikini Luxe with my knowledge of sales and customer service and just of the swimwear industry in general. Living in Miami I had a lot of opportunities to not only model within the industry, but also create relationships with people who had their own lines whether they were the designers, the owners, the founders of companies. Those people early on gave me opportunities to really sell and represent their brand as a newcomer, because they believed in my ability and when I said, “Hey, listen. I know this is new and this is different for me, but I’m going to sell swimwear online.” A few people stood up and said, “Yeah, let’s do it. Here’s my brand. Go with the flow.” It turned out really well.
Felix: Very cool. Did you have experience launching any other businesses in the past or was this your very first entrepreneurial pursuit?
Candice: Bikini Luxe is my first child. I’ve put a lot of time and energy and love and sweat into Bikini Luxe. I didn’t have any real experience in growing an e-commerce store or platform before that. It was definitely a steep learning curve.
Felix: What kind of preparation did you have to do before opening the store? You mentioned there’s a steep learning curve. What was involved in that? For someone that’s just brand new, I think there’s a lot of listeners out there in that similar situation where they are working on their very first entrepreneurial pursuit, their first store, first company, first brand, first business, and they’re facing the same issues that you probably face which is that it’s very daunting. There’s just so much to learn. So much you don’t know and so much that you don’t know that you don’t know. How did you prepare for all of it?
Candice: That’s true. I feel like even now a few years in, I’m still learning something new every single day. There’s always something like a new app, a new program, a new algorithm. It’s literally … It just never ends. Starting out I did what a lot of people do, I took to Google and every single question that I had I googled it, and I watched tutorials, and I read interviews, and articles, and Q&A’s and anything, any knowledge that I could soak up early on I took advantage of it. I asked people for advice. The few connections that I had in the industry, I asked them for their opinion. A lot of them were on the opposite end of the spectrum that I am. Whereas I’m a retailer and a lot of the brands that I knew starting out were the people who were selling wholesale to retailers. The advice that they had wasn’t exactly what I needed, but it gave me a little bit of insight and led me in the right direction.
I would say for people who are just starting out, just asking questions. Every question you have, just ask it. Google it. Watch a tutorial. Everyone has been in your shoes before and there are plenty of people out there who are looking to enlighten others on the process.
Felix: What do you think was the most important skill for you to learn as a beginner?
Candice: Probably time management. I decided that this was the career that I wanted to have for the majority of my life. I dropped everything and I said what I want to do is I want to sell somewhere online and I want to have my own company. When you’re just starting out and you’re learning everything really managing time and figuring out where you need to focus. It may not be something that you like the most that you need to focus on. Do I enjoy going out and meeting new brands and shopping for new brands and learning the trends? Yes, but is my time best spent there? Probably not. It’s probably best spent learning marketing and advertising and SEO and all those random things that go into it.
Felix: When you were first starting this out back in 2013 - 2014, were you doing this full-time or was this something that was just being done on the side at first?
Candice: At first it was something that was being done on the side. I continued to hold a full-time or a part-time job to pay the bills which is necessary when you’re starting out. Luckily for me, my hard work really paid off early on and we started trending online pretty quickly. Back to the time management aspect, at that point I realized this is my opportunity and I need to focus on growing my personal brand. I quit everything and started focusing entirely day and night on building the brand. Luckily it’s done well thus far.
Felix: While you were doing this essentially part-time you had something else going on. Again, a very similar situation for a lot of listeners out there. They have a full-time job or part-time job or something else, like what you’re saying, to pay the bills while they were building this on the side. I can see why time management is become so important in that case because not only do you not have that much time, but you don’t have as much energy either because your time and energy is wrapped up in something else as a big chunk of your day and whatever is left over is what you use to devote to building something that probably takes even more effort.
Tell us a little bit more about your time management then. You said something very important which was that you really had to understand what was important. Everything might sound interesting and fun to do and it must still be related to your business, but it might not have been the best thing for you to focus your time on. Tell us about how you evaluate this. How did you learn or how do you evaluate what’s the best use of your time?
Candice: I think that a lot of it is trial and error. You can’t excel at everything. That is something that I learned, was that I might be … I don’t want to say I’m a hoarder. What is that I’m looking for? … I’m the person who wants to put everything on my plate. I want to do everything myself because I want it to be done right and I want it to be done when I want it done. I’ve always been that person. What I learned was that you can’t do everything on your own. There’s just not enough time in the day and you’re not going to do it well. I started outsourcing as much as I could to other people and leveraging their expertise. I became a manager early on just by outsourcing work and utilizing private contractors or whatever it may be.
If you don’t understand AdWords maybe you need to find somebody who has a really good understanding of AdWords. If you don’t understand or really suck at editing photos and creating good quality content then maybe you need to find somebody who can do that for you.
I know that a lot of that comes with a larger budget, but there are definitely ways you can get it done without taking on investment. It’s totally possible and I did it. It was great because it did free up a lot of time for me to focus on the things that I was good at and that I did enjoy.
Felix: Yes. I think this is important to talk about a little bit more about how to find help and how to outsource and how to delegate so that you’re not … because I think a lot of entrepreneurs want to be the hero of their company or they want to do everything like you’re saying. I think it’s kind of a gift and a curse of entrepreneur where you’re so ambitious and you are so optimistic about everything that you think you can take all of it on. A lot of times people don’t find out that they can’t do that until they crash and burn out which is definitely not a spot you want to be at. You want to be able to nip that in the bud early and recognize what you’re good at and then outsource the rest. Let’s talk about outsourcing a bit.
First of all, you mentioned AdWords and photos at first, were there other things that you knew you wanted to outsource right away?
Candice: Yes. I think that a lot of what comes with maintaining an online presence these days is creating content and a lot of it. That may be articles, it may be photos or videos or whatever it is that is tied into your business, but using virtual assistants to create that content, it frees you up to do the more important things. Do I need to spend my time writing an article about the five best SPFs for the summer? No, I don’t. But is it potentially going to lead people to my website? Yes, so I’m going to outsource that and have someone else write it really quickly and throw it up and get it done.
What I struggled with was that I was obsessed with micromanaging every aspect of my website in the way that the banner looked and this portion looks this way. I’m not a Photoshop expert by any means, so that actually consumed a lot of my time. By outsourcing it and giving it to someone who quickly can maneuver around Photoshop and add a few lines of text and get rid of a pimple here and a smudge there, it really freed up time and allowed us to be more productive.
Felix: Makes sense. I think content marketing, like you’re saying with writing articles and everything, it’s talked about so much in the industry, I think it was probably one of the more popular methods for marketing over the last couple of years, and probably still is really a popular method, but, like you’re saying, it’s not for everybody. Not everybody likes sitting down and cranking out 500, 1000, 1500 word articles every single day and if you don’t like that, like I was saying before, you have to outsource. You have to get someone else to do it, otherwise you’re going to burn out and the entire thing is going to essentially fall apart.
When it comes to content marketing itself, everyone out there that is also in similar shoes as you which you don’t like doing content marketing, or maybe you’re better off using your time elsewhere, how did you find people to write these articles and what kind of direction do you give them when you hire someone to write articles for you?
Candice: A lot of the ideas are very well thought out. It’s not just, “Well, today I feel like writing about homemade leave-in conditioner for hair after you go to the beach.” Everything is tied into the business, right? Like you want everything to be related. Something that we did was we used BuzzSumo to see what kind of terms were related to our niche and we took those and then decided that they were something that we should be writing about. I would have virtual assistants, you can find virtual assistants online. I like Indeed.com for employees and such like that.
Using apps where the main focus is literally this one thing to help you build your business and help you do it better really did make things easier. Off the top of my head do I know every single term that people are searching for that’s going to lead them back to my website and actually turn into a buying customer? No, I don’t. But there are tons of people who have the data that can back that up.
Felix: BuzzSumo, I think that’s another really popular app for content marketing. I’ve used it myself. In your case you’re using it to research the kinds of articles and blog posts that were written based on the key words they’re searching? How are you using BuzzSumo?
Candice: Pretty much, but it’s more or less the terms that people are looking for that are related to like trends and the industry that we’re in.
Felix: Okay, so let’s say you’ve discovered certain terms or phrases that people are searching for a lot. You would then hire somebody on Indeed or hopefully you already had somebody hired to start writing. How much guidance do you need to give someone that you outsource this kind of content to?
Candice: Well, that ranges, right? We have a number of writers and everyone is of different skill sets. Some don’t require any real direction at all. You say, “Hey, I want to write an article about designer swimwear in 2017,” and they just know. They just get it. Other people you hire or are part of your team, may or may not just be that creative. You might have to give them more direction. You might need to say, “Hey, listen, I want you to write an article about the five best brands of 2017 in the swimwear world and these are the brands I want you to focus on.” Some people you need to give more direction to, but as a manager, and as a leader, you need to understand that and understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
Felix: How important do you find is it to find somebody, find a writer that has already written on this topic? Is that important or do you find that most writers can figure it out even if they haven’t written in that industry or on that topic before?
Candice: No, I don’t think they have to have written about that topic before. I think that a lot of people who do write are very creative. I’m not saying you should take on maybe a political writer and ask them to write about fashion, because they just may not be motivated to do that. We’ve definitely taken on interns before who had no experience in writing and have been able to churn out really well-thought informational articles that are related to our industry. Honestly, it’s surprising in a good way when you see that and they realize that they have a talent that they didn’t even know they had. That’s really exciting to bring that out of someone.
Felix: Cool. When you mentioned earlier about how it doesn’t have to be a cash intensive activity to outsource things like writing, is it by finding interns. How have you been able to not require large investments to outsource a good portion of the content marketing or just to the marketing in general?
Candice: We’ve definitely grown over the years. Early on we just worked literally all day and all night. I did myself. My team worked long hours. Luckily this year we’ve been able to take on more interns which it comes with a cost or a price. I assumed early on, “We’re going to bring on these interns and we’re going to teach them so much stuff and it’s going to be great. And we’re going to be so productive.” Our employees were like, “Great. We have all these interns. They’re going to do all this stuff I don’t want to do.” That’s kind of funny because now we all started focusing on teaching these interns. I know that a lot of people kind of bring them on just give them busy work and they’re just happy and that’s what they expect. I don’t want someone to come to our team unless they genuinely want to be there and they want to be a part of the family, and they have fun coming to work every day.
It actually takes a lot of time and energy to teach these people real skills. I’ve gotten so many who done internships before and I feel like they just didn’t learn anything while they were there. I think that’s sad. I think it’s a waste of time for them and for the person that they were working for.
I guess to answer your question, we do have interns. We have way more employees now than we’ve ever had. We have freelance writers and all sorts of different people all over the world that are helping us create content and manage the customer experience and create backlinks and all this stuff. Just hard work and building a team that believes in what they’re doing.
Felix: Yes. I think others have considered going down this route too of bringing on interns, but also having full-time employees or even contractors. What do you find different about managing interns versus an employee?
Candice: I think that it’s different because I think that our employees know a little bit of what is expected of them on a daily basis. They kind of think freely and they say, “Hey, I have these things to do today, but I also have these other creative ways where I need to think of an interesting way to reach out to the local community.” I think that the interns, their tasks are more delegated to them. It’s like, “Hey, we have these five brands. We’ve got to hurry up and do XYZ before this date. Like Go, go, go!”
We’ve been able to manage everything and keep everyone on the same page by using Basecamp which I’m sure a lot of people have heard on, but it was really nice for us to be able to chat with each other without yelling across the room or across the office. Kind of just message each other and make sure that everyone has the same idea in mind. It’s especially great for the people who we’re communicating with overseas or all over the world, because they’re at different time zones and now you just message them and everyone knows what’s going on.
Felix: Yes. I think one thing you said about interns is also interesting and important, which is that it’s easy to just give them the busywork, the stuff that you don’t want to do, hand it off to them. Like you’re saying, you want to make sure that the interns are also enjoying what they’re doing, or employees as well, but even more so I think with interns. They’re enjoying what they’re doing and that they’re learning. I think a lot of times that’s what they’re looking for the most. They want to come to a place to learn and of course also to enjoy their time there. How do you make sure that this happens though, because like you’re saying, it’s really easy to slip down this road, maybe not you directly, but then the people that report into you might slip down this road of just delegating the stuff that they’re not interested and tossing it over the wall, so to speak, and not really teaching. How do you make sure that doesn’t happen?
Candice: That is a good question. I think that our team is different in that our office is very casual. We have a great time at work. We have barbecues, there are people coming in and out all throughout the day, and it’s very … I don’t know how to say it. I want to say that it’s like the fun office that you go to and everyone’s sharing food and making coffee and, “Hey, I’m making coffee. You want one?” It’s very fun and casual which I think keeps the morale high and keeps people productive. I’ve never wanted to be that boss that comes in and everyone’s terrified. “She’s here. She’s here, everyone. Batten down the hatches.”
I think that that keeps it fun and also I think that e-commerce is a different industry in that there’s so much that goes into it. We have photo shoots on the beach and, “Hey girls, like let’s send a few people out to this photo shoot.” “No, there’s an event over here at this hotel and we’re doing a pop-up over there.” There’s a lot of fun things to do that the people who work for us who are interested in fashion and in sales and consumer industry in general, they get to go on these fun field trips almost, and experience it. When we have Swim Week and all those fun events it’s like, “Hey, who wants to go to this event? Okay, no, not everyone can go.”
Felix: I think the thing it boils down to, based on what you’re saying, is you can’t force somebody that’s not already interested in the company, interested in the industry, interested in the category, to come in and enjoy it if you just go out and with the intention of finding interns, finding employees that are already interested in all of these things it makes it a lot easier to cultivate that culture at your company and your offices than if you weren’t that selective to begin with. I think that’s the answer, what you’re getting at is that be selective with interns or be selective with the employees and that makes it way easier to create a fun place to work at and a fun place to learn as well.
You mentioned a little bit earlier about how you were able to get traction pretty quickly. You were able to get those first sales. You were trending online. Tell us a little bit more about that. What do you credit that to? How were you able to get that early traction?
Candice: Pretty sure that early on we focused a lot on shopping websites. Because we were so new we didn’t have the organic traffic that we were looking for early on. That literally comes with time and with effort. We utilized the different platforms that women, teenagers, men, everyone goes to to shop. They have this database of customers who are ready to buy. You put your products on and people just come and buy them and they don’t really care if you’re brand new. They don’t care if you’ve been around for 20 years. They see an image and they want to buy it. Let’s say Pinterest for example. Currently we get around two million impressions a month on our Pinterest page, but starting out we did see some sales from there because people saw an image they liked and they wanted to buy it. They weren’t afraid of buying from Bikini Luxe when it was brand new.
There’s all these different platforms out there that can help new businesses build a customer base. It’s great because it’s very much needed early on when you’re literally just floating in cyberspace and nobody knows that you exist.
Felix: Yes, I think that’s a great point. You want to find places, marketplaces, social media platforms that already have your audience, your potential customers, and just get in front of them that way. Because one, it’s usually free, and two, these audience members, these customers already are collecting around this place so you don’t have to go around searching for them.
You mentioned Pinterest, are there any other marketplaces or social media platforms that you recommend especially for brands and companies in the apparel space?
Candice: Yes. There are tons right now. I like Polyvore. Some people don’t love Polyvore or they’re just not into it yet. I like Polyvore because it allows people to create sets and different things and they can utilize your products and share them with people really quickly and easily. We’ve done lots of contests on there. I like it because your products pretty much, they just go. You just put them on there and people just start using them in sets, and you can create contests that say, “Hey, listen. Use three of our products in a set and share it to win a pair of sunglasses or whatever it is.” The people on there are really interactive and they’re really creative and they do create content for you. You can even use some of those set images to reach new people as well.
Felix: For anyone out there that might not be familiar with Polyvore, can you explain how it works for users and then also for how brands or retailers like you use Polyvore.
Candice: Yes. You upload your products and users can share the products or they can collect them almost into their own groups. Very much like Pinterest and all these other websites where they see something, they like it, they want to keep it. Some people want to purchase them so you’re able to purchase directly from the website. A lot of them are creative types and they use them to make collages or what they call sets. That’s really cool because they can create so many different styles and maybe something that you would create a lot of people may not be interested in, but if that really creative girl who has a few thousand followers creates something using your product, then now it’s shared to all of her followers. It creates brand awareness and it can definitely lead to sales.
Felix: You mentioned that there might be users on there that, I guess, power users, people with followers on there, can you work with influencers on Polyvore? Have you gone down that avenue?
Candice: We have. Yes. We still do. We reach out to some of the people who are active on there. I think that a lot of it just happens naturally. I think that everyone is so tied up with influencers and, “Oh, you know what. I’m only going to work with someone if they have half a million followers because that’s going to be what is going to turn out to be the best amount of sales.” But that’s not always true. We’ve worked with girls who have had 700 followers and have amassed way more sales than a girl with half a million has. It just ties in to their customer base or their following and if it’s really targeted to what you’re selling.
Felix: You mentioned before that others might not be interested in Polyvore. Are there any negatives that you’ve found with being on Polyvore or spending the time on Polyvore?
Candice: It’s for fashion so if you’re selling car parts I probably wouldn’t recommend it. It’s definitely fashion forward, if that’s what you want to say. I haven’t really found a negative. I think that every platform comes with its pros and cons. I don’t think that anyone should spend all of their time doing just one thing. I think that it’s really important to be well-rounded and you need to be on Facebook. You need to be on Pinterest, Polyvore, Instagram. You need to be on Twitter. You need to access everything and that’s where it can be overwhelming and you could potentially spread yourself too thin. If you focus on something and you see that something is doing really well, then maybe spend more energy there and less time at something that’s not performing as well for you.
We have a lot of really great imagery because the majority of our shoots are on the beach with a beautiful model and great hair and makeup and Photoshop and this fun stuff going on. It’s a really image heavy kind of industry. E-commerce works really well for us in that regard.
Felix: Very cool.
Speaking of social media, one thing you mentioned in the pre-interview questions was about a marketing tactic that works well for you, which is to create innovative and disruptive social media posts that draw engagement. Can you talk a little bit more about this? What do you mean by these innovative and disruptive social media posts?
Candice: I think that now more than ever it’s difficult to stand out online. Everyone has an account on every single platform and everyone is posting multiple times a day to try to get your attention. As customers, we’re all customers, we’re being sold to non-stop. There’s advertisements. There’s pop-ups. You get followed around. The radio is talking to you. The TV is talking to you. Your phone has … You got a text from some sales thing and you’re just always being sold to. I think that a company to stand out and to do well needs to be authentic, but I also think that it should have a personality.
One way that we’ve shown our personality online was early on I decided that I should be a part of LinkedIn, because LinkedIn meant that you were a professional person. I was like, you know what, I don’t think people really view me as being the CEO of a company. I should have a more professional profile. I started LinkedIn and I started posting the same stuff that I did on any of our other platforms. On Pinterest, on Polyvore, on Facebook. I started posting the same campaign images of beautiful women on a tropical beach wearing swimwear. It was just different for LinkedIn at the time to see something like that. It is a professional networking website, but I’m a professional and swimwear is my business, so here’s my stuff. This is what I have.
A lot of people were surprised by that. They didn’t expect to see that on LinkedIn. It created a huge controversy which was two different groups of people. There are the people who said, “This does not belong on LinkedIn at all. This is not professional.” There were the people that said, “Hey, listen. She’s a business owner. Swimwear is her business. It definitely belongs here.”
Creating that content and putting it on that platform was controversial. It was fun and it was exciting and it brought us a lot of attention. I think that’s what I mean by creating content that is innovative in that you may not even know you’re doing it when you do it at first. People see something that they didn’t expect and it’s almost guerrilla style marketing. That’s kind of how that happened and it led to opportunities that were unexpected for me as well.
Felix: I think the key point there is that you don’t always have to just do things because you see other brands doing it. You should actually start asking where can you be, what can you do, that is different? Maybe even the complete opposite of what you’ve seen successful retailers, successful brands, other successful companies doing, because that’s usually only the way to stand out. You’re going to fit right in and kind of fade into the background if you are just like everybody else.
You mentioned earlier too about how, I think you were saying early on you were able to focus on building your personal brand. Is that something that you focus on a lot too, other than just Bikini Luxe? Are you also focused on building your personal brand as Candice?
Candice: Yes. With LinkedIn brought attention. It brought a lot of opportunities. I didn’t expect it to go viral. I didn’t expect to amass 50,000 followers on LinkedIn or to be the most viewed person on the entire website for a long period of time, or to get more attraction than Richard Branson does. Who am I compared to Richard Branson? Let’s be real, but it was happening.
What you said a little bit is don’t always do what everyone else tells you to do. Everyone, not everyone, a lot of people in the beginning of the whole LinkedIn controversy said, “What are you doing? You’re wasting your time. Don’t post advertisements like this on LinkedIn. It’s never going to get you anywhere. You’re talking to a brick wall over here. You’re never going to see any sales from it.” What happened as we actually saw a 30% increase in business. Far exceeding our expectations, our projections. We amassed a much larger male clientele than we had previously.
Don’t listen to what everyone says. Sometimes you need to do the exact opposite almost.
With LinkedIn came opportunities that I didn’t have previously. We ended up in all sorts of publications. Huffington Post. We were in Inc. We were in BBC. Fox News. Forbes. We’ve been in Forbes five times in 2016 so far. I’ve made connections that I never expected to make. With all of that, allowed me to build my personal brand which is something that I never even thought of before starting Bikini Luxe. I never thought that Candice Galek would be a brand or that it should be.
Now I have my own column for Inc which is great, because I used to buy Inc Magazine and now I write for it. How cool is that? I’m dabbling in consulting and in teaching people the ins and outs of what I went through step-by-step building my business from the ground up as a bootstrapped young female entrepreneur. I’m really focusing on that because I see potential there beyond Bikini Luxe and like I said, not putting all of your eggs in one basket. I don’t want my only company to be Bikini Luxe. I want there to be other aspects of it. Building myself as a brand has been a nice change of pace. It’s definitely hard to manage time now when I have two separate brands.
Felix: I bet. What do you find that’s different about building a personal brand versus building a company’s brand?
Candice: I thought that I was crazy about every single thing that I posted before and in micro-managing everything before when it was Bikini Luxe. Now that I’m dealing with myself I feel like I’m trying to put best foot forward and always come off as professional and presentable, and that’s difficult. Also, knowing what people want. Yes, I know a little bit about going viral on LinkedIn, but I know a little bit about creating my business also. Figuring out what people want to hear is important I think.
What’s really cool about it, I think, is with LinkedIn, I’ve been able to learn so much more because I can do A/B testing and figure out what people do want to see and what people do want to hear about. I can ask a question like, “Do you like A or B? Which would you rather? Do you like the photo on the left or the right? Do you like the lifestyle image or do you like the plain white background?” I get a lot of feedback. Probably the most engagement of any platform. It’s been really great to get that insight and feedback from people that I didn’t have before.
Felix: I can imagine that you probably feel a little bit more under the microscope now that you have a personal brand, because even though your name is tied to your company, Bikini Luxe, or anyone else out that has a company, you’re not anonymous, but you could separate yourself from your company’s brand. When it’s your personal brand you can’t just step away from it. So what you’re saying, what you post on social media, on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on Twitter, it is your history. It’s your history of everything that represents you as your personal brand. I can definitely understand the added pressure of having a personal brand.
For any entrepreneur out there I think a lot of entrepreneurs that have seen success they do want to give back and they do want to talk a bit more about what they’ve learned, which is why a lot of the guests come on this podcast. How do you recommend others being down this path if they are thinking about focusing a little bit more time on building a personal brand?
Candice: Well, I think that a lot of it comes with time. If you wake up one day and you say, “You know what, I’m going to make myself a personal brand.” It’s probably not going to work. Why? Because if no one’s interested in what you have to say, it’s going to be really difficult to force feed it to them. Early on people probably didn’t want my advice when I first started. They would be like, “Who are you? Why should I talk to you? Why would I want to know your opinion?” When people believe in you and when they understand what you’re doing and they say, “Hey, listen. She’s been there and done it before. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” They might be more interested.
Building your own brand, I think it’s vital to start with a base of people who are truly interested in that brand to begin with. It’s difficult to get started in creating something, especially if you don’t know what you’re creating. If you want to say, “Hey, I’m great at pottery. You should listen to me.” No one’s going to care unless they believe you’re good at pottery as well.
I don’t believe really that everyone should be their own personal brand. Even me, I’m still trying to figure it out. There’s been things like, “Hey, Candice, do you want to sell Tupperware. Let’s name a cosmetics line after you. Let’s do this other thing.” And I’m just like, “Why Tupperware? No. I’m not Martha Stewart.” A cosmetics line? No. I don’t talk about cosmetics ever. Why would I have a cosmetics line? My followers don’t care about makeup.
You have to make it really targeted to what you are good at and what you also want to wake up and do every single day. If you don’t want to do pottery every day, it’s just not going to work.
Felix: It’s definitely difficult, because you’re saying that one of the key things you try to focus on today is to pay attention to what people are asking from you. That’s how you got started with your personal brand because people became more interested in your business and how you grew your business, how you started your business. They wanted to learn more about that. All of a sudden once you are more in the limelight, have more publicity, more and more opportunities get thrown your way. A lot of times, like you were saying, they’re not a good fit, but they’re still demanding or asking these things from you. How do you filter that? How do you understand this is something I want to pursue versus something I don’t want to pursue, when it’s actually something people are asking from you, just like when they were asking for you to talk more about your business or talk more about entrepreneurship.
Candice: I think that it goes back to not spreading yourself too thin. You may have an opportunity to do something, but does it make sense first of all for you to do that? Do you have the time to commit to it? Maybe, maybe not. Is it something that you do want to do or that you benefit from? Let’s face it, at the end of the day the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing is either because you just love it so much and you’re so passionate about it, or you’re turning a profit or you have some other motive. Let’s say you’re doing it all and you’re donating everything to charity. No matter what, you need to figure out why you’re doing something and what you want out of it.
Like I said about cosmetics. Do I wear makeup? Yes. Do I necessarily need a Candice Galek makeup line? No. No one’s going to buy it. It has to make sense and I know that it gets exciting early on when people want to offer you things and want to be a part of stuff, but you really need to manage time and focus on what you’re good at. If someone says, “Hey, you know what. I like what you’re doing and let’s write a book. I’m going to invest in it and you’re going to write the whole book.” Is that really going to be the best use of your time? Maybe, maybe not.
I think that whatever options or opportunities are thrown your way, I think that it’s a great idea to weigh out the pros and cons. That’s something I do. I’m a list maker. Figure out if it’s worth your time and energy.
Felix: Very cool. I think one thing that you mention was you have to really understand why you’re doing it. It’s funny because you actually have an article in Inc with a Q&A with Simon Sinek who talks about this idea of always asking why before you begin anything else. When you’ve started thinking about why you’re doing something, how do you answer that? How do you know that … And I guess this may be more of a philosophical question than anything … How do you know that you actually have a legitimate reason to pursue something or not? I think there’s a gray area that a lot of entrepreneurs fall into which is that, like you were saying, someone presents them an opportunity and it fits with what they’re into, fits with their skill set, but it might not be a perfect fit, is that enough of a reason to try and pursue it? How do you know if you actually have discovered the why of why you’re doing something?
Candice: That’s a great question. I asked Simon that same thing.
I don’t know all of the answers, but I do know one thing. When I’m thinking about something and when I’m deciding on doing something or not, I trust my gut. If it feels right, it feels right. If it feels little funny like, you what, I just don’t know. I don’t know if I can swing it. I don’t know if I’m trying to manage Bikini Luxe and Candice Galek and I’ve got 20 other things to do and now you want me to do this other thing that’s kind of related. It just goes back to deciding if it’s something that you want to do. Are you going to enjoy it? Yes or no. Are you going to see any results from it? Yes or no. Are you passionate about it?
Are you going to want to do it every single day and be thrilled to be doing it, because a lot of being an entrepreneur or a business owner or any of these things really really really ties in to being driven and passionate and trying to keep a happy face even when you’re in the red. Let’s say you’ve just had a terrible month and you’re just, “God, this is just not going well. I worked my butt off and I’m just losing money and it’s just not working.” You have to enjoy what you’re doing to keep it going and to see the numbers jump back up again.
I don’t know how to figure out if everything is right or how to find your why. I tried to get Simon to best explain to me how to find my why. I don’t know. It’s hard, but you’ll figure it out. Everyone does in their own time, I believe.
Felix: Yes. I think if we knew the answer to that a lot of people would be much happier. I think because it’s a struggle that everyone goes through. It’s a process, as you were saying, it’s a journey that you have to go through to discover the why. There’s no kind of one way to sit down and just think about it and all of a sudden come to an answer. You try thing and you get better at understanding what fits with what you’re doing. What doesn’t. You kind of build this intuition, I guess, over time and you’ll have a better understanding of what will actually fir you, like you were saying.
Candice: I agree. I have one other thing, Felix. Actually it got sparked from that conversation with Simon about why. I have this interest in being more charitable. How do I do this? What is my why. He said, “I can’t tell you what your why is. You’ve got to figure it out for yourself, girlfriend.” A lot of the brands that I carry and that I choose for Bikini Luxe all have these really strong brand missions. It’s something that I’ve always wanted for my business. I didn’t want it to just be an income producing opportunity. I want it to do some good. What happens is all the brands that we choose, that go into Bikini Luxe, they’re all working in their own way to better the community.
We have a brand of jewelry and they only employ women in the community that are facing hardship or homelessness or whatever it may be. They teach them these skills of how to make jewelry and they provide them with living wages so these people can get back on their feet. You buy a yoga mat and we plant. There’s another one where they employ single mothers and they hand make these really intricate crochet and beaded swimwears. Every single brand that we chose, they all have their own mission and they’re all doing good.
It was funny because I was picking them and I didn’t even really realize it. I didn’t ever sit down and say, “Hey, I’m only picking brands that have this amazing eco-conscious mission.” Right? Then I just realized it later on. I was like, “Hey, this is what we’re doing. We’re doing good and we’re not even taking about it. We’re not even telling anyone about it. We’re not … No one even realizes it’s happening, but that’s what we’re doing and that’s our why.”
That’s really fun and exciting and I think that every brand should have maybe a why or it should have some sort of mission. I don’t think that it’s fair to run a business and just collect money and call it a day. You know?
Felix: Yes. Definitely.
What are your plans? Where do you want to see Bikini Luxe go in the next year or so?
Candice: Considering Bikini Luxe has far exceeded my expectations from the start, I didn’t know until recently where I wanted to go. I realized that the two-piece swimwear industry is an eight billion dollar industry in the US alone. I think worldwide it’s something like 13 billion dollars globally with projections that it’s going to be around 22 billion by the year 2020. My goal now is to just take over a small percentage of that. I just want to be the online destination for designer swimwear and resort wear and all the fun stuff that goes into buying swimwear online. That’s my short term goal.
Felix: That’s a very lofty goal. Best of luck to get there. Thanks again so much for your time, Candice. BikiniLuxe.com B-I-K-I-N-I-L-U-X-E dot come. Anywhere else you recommend our listeners check out if they want to follow along with what you’re up to?
Candice: Definitely check out Instagram @BikiniLuxe. All of our different platforms, our social media is all @BikiniLuxe. You can find us there. Check out all the cool customer photos. All the cool places we’re going. All the beautiful models we’re shooting. That’s where we are. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff.
Felix: Awesome. Thanks so much again, Candice.
Candice: Thank you.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial.