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How to Master Authority in Your Market Space: Elina Furman’s Story to 1 Million Followers and a Successful Business

In today's episode of The Harvest Growth Podcast, we're thrilled to welcome Elina Furman, the founder and CEO of Kahlmi, a brand dedicated to baby massage and wellness. Elina's journey from concept to a thriving business is nothing short of inspiring. With over a million followers on her social media platforms, Elina has mastered the art of building authority and engaging with her audience on a limited budget. She shares invaluable insights on the importance of starting early, creating meaningful content, and leveraging organic growth to catapult her brand. Moreover, she discusses her innovative product, the handheld baby massager, dubbed the "Theragun for babies" by Fast Company, and her forthcoming book that extends her brand's educational reach. Join us as we dive into Elina’s story, uncover her secrets to social media success, and learn how to harness the power of authority to safeguard your brand from copycats. Don't miss this episode filled with actionable strategies!



 

In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:


  • Building a brand through educational content marketing

  • Why starting early matters in your business growth and product launch success

  • How to leverage social media to understand your audience better

  • Overcoming fear through practice

  • And so much more!


 

You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you listen to your podcasts.



Or, click to watch the full video interview here!




 

The Kahlmi baby massager is the world’s first baby massager that helps you massage and soothe your baby - a great tool for assisting them to sleep, relax, reduce constipation, relieve gas, bond with you, and other great benefits. Visit www.kahlmi.com now to learn more.


To be a guest on our next podcast, contact us today!


Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!


 

Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!


Jon LaClare [00:00:00]:

How would you like to build up over 1 million followers on your social media channels with a very limited budget? Today's guest launched her business just a couple of years ago and has bootstrapped her way to a large and growing business by building up her personal authority. And she explains the process that she followed in a very prescriptive and easy to follow way.


Announcer [00:00:20]:

Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now here's the host of the Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.


Jon LaClare [00:00:40]:

Welcome back to the show. I'm really excited to have Elina Furman on with us. She's the founder and CEO of Kahlmi K A H L M I. You can get it at kahlmi.com. you can learn more about the product. She's going to describe what it is, what it does, the story behind it, etcetera. This is a really cool concept, really cool product that I know you're going to like hearing about, but also some great stories about unique ways that she's helped to grow this business so quickly. Well, first of all, Elina, welcome to the show.


Elina Furman [00:01:10]:

Thank you so much, John. So happy to be here.


Jon LaClare [00:01:14]:

I appreciate you taking the time. So let's start off, if you can describe what is the call me handheld baby massager, your primary product?


Elina Furman [00:01:22]:

Yeah. Kahlmi is a brand that is all about baby massage and wellness. And as part of the brand, I launched the hero product because I do believe it's important to have that really exciting, innovative hero product. So the handheld massager has been called the Theragun for babies by Fast Company magazine. It's super soothing. Parents are loving it. But the whole of colony is really about multiple products to encourage parents to connect and to look at their babies in a more holistic way. And we create other products like baby massage cards and other educational products.


Elina Furman [00:02:07]:

But it's also about sensory and development and connection and all those important things that sometimes in the fast pace of life, we forget about when it comes to parenting.


Jon LaClare [00:02:19]:

And if you have one, feel free to show it to our audience that's watching on video. They can get a good sense of what this is. And if you could also talk about how it works, I think you compared it to the kind of a theragun for babies. So tell us more about that.


Elina Furman [00:02:31]:

Yeah. So for those who can't see, this is the packaging. And I really wanted it to have a lux feel, and the product is shaped like a rattle. And there's obviously some luxe design elements because my background is in a more higher end baby product market. So I really wanted it to have a very strong aesthetic point of view as well as all the vibration that is super soothing. And prior to my product, there's never been a product that a parent could take along with them to not only massage the baby, but also soothe them. So we created it, and I created it and designed it so the baby can hold it by the. There's a very thin neck, and there are three heads that come on and off, and they're detachable.


Elina Furman [00:03:27]:

So you have a lot of a variety of sensory experiences, which is so important for babies, because touch is one of the most, the first senses that babies develop. And I became a certified infant massage instructor and learned all the ins and outs about baby massage, and it was just such an exciting category. And the product is just one of those things that it's so super portable as three different species, speeds and vibration levels, and everything has been designed to correspond to baby's anatomy and smaller anatomical scale, and parents just love. It's also a great reminder. So I wanted to have a physical product, because while you don't need a product to soothe or massage your baby, by having a product that you can put on your nursery or nightstand, it's a daily practice. It reminds you to be consistent, because the benefits of baby massage, after doing so much research are cumulative. And so you wouldn't take your vitamins once, you know, once a week or once a month. So it's the same with baby massage.


Elina Furman [00:04:34]:

And the benefits include sleep, better sleep, improvement of colic symptoms, neural development, social, emotional. So for me, it's really a hero product of a larger movement around baby massage, baby wellness, and holistic methods and preventative methods of making sure that you're connecting with your baby and nurturing your baby.


Jon LaClare [00:04:58]:

And I would just add to that if I can. I think I'm saying this correctly, but for anybody in our audience that might be very familiar with a theragun, it's a great visual comparison, but obviously a different speed. And like, you know, theraguns are much more for deep muscle massage, et cetera, after a big run or a bike ride or whatever, for adults. So the feel is obviously softer for babies. Just to clarify that for our audience. And then also, you know, my personal. I don't know if anybody else listening has gone through this, but I have a couple of products, you know, the kind of vibration therapy, whether it's a little back massage you hold over your neck or. Recently, I've had some foot issues, that sort of thing.


Jon LaClare [00:05:36]:

There's a little vibrating pad you can put your feet on, and it's amazing how soothing they are. Right. That vibration, I think it gives us a good understanding of what our babies must be feeling as they hold or as this product soothes the massages.


Elina Furman [00:05:51]:

There's been a lot of research on babies and vibrations. Obviously, you know, you don't want to vibrate them too much. And so they always, they studied it because, you know, babies, when they get in a car, they vibrate, and you want to be careful and make sure that that level is safe, but they instantly fall asleep. You know, people put their babies on top of the washing machine, in the car seats because they instantly fall asleep. And that's because in the womb, when in the experience of the womb, there's just natural vibration that happens. So every baby product, whether it's a swing or now, they have these cribs that vibrate. So every baby product comes with a vibrational component. But the only thing is that I.


Elina Furman [00:06:33]:

Why I love my product is that it's not a container for the baby, because we have all these swings and places to put the baby, and they vibrate. But this is a way for you to interact and take that ten minutes a day where you can soothe your baby and connect with them, rather than just kind of, you know, plopping them down in a swing and then, you know, kind of set and forget which look we all need to do from time to time, because we are, we cannot hold their babies at 24/7 but I call those a kind of, like, vibrational containers and mine a more interactive tool for connecting with your baby.


Jon LaClare [00:07:12]:

So I've got four kids. Much of our audience probably knows that by now, but they're a little older, right? Our youngest is 15, and we've been through the baby stage for sure. And this, obviously, we don't have any babies in our home now, but there's several friends that I think of to share this product with. And I think our audience probably is thinking the same thing, and especially with those that might be struggling with babies that are having trouble going to sleep or crying a lot or kind of anxious. And a lot of, as you mentioned, a lot of the techniques that these parents will use is to get their baby in the car, drive them around the block till they fall asleep, that sort of thing. So this does something similar without having to drive around right. And it's a more focused attention on the babies themselves. So I love the, love the idea, for sure.


Jon LaClare [00:07:57]:

Let's talk about the business side of this. So this is a relatively new business. You've been around for few years and it's grown quickly so far. And something I want to talk about with our audience is the way that you've really bootstrapped this. So in the early days, you were able to get it off the ground without spending a lot of money. And there's some things that you have done and still are doing in order to do that. So first of all, let's talk about social media. So you have built up, I think it's a million followers on the social media platform, is that correct?


Elina Furman [00:08:25]:

Yeah, it's a million plus now between Facebook, TikTok and Instagram.


Jon LaClare [00:08:32]:

And you can always buy followers, right. But they don't engage, they're not useful. You've built up real followers that care about the brand.


Elina Furman [00:08:41]:

I want to be an influencer and show the brands that I have a million fake followers and pay me all this money. Because, one, if you have as a brand, fake followers, maybe if you're looking to get acquired, that could help you. But if you're looking to convert, that's going to actually hurt you in the algorithm. And so I definitely do not recommend that for brands.


Jon LaClare [00:09:08]:

Agreed? Agreed. So let's talk about. So these are, I just want to emphasize for our audience, these are real followers, obviously, that care about the brand, the story and share with friends, you know, for real, not just kind of in passing or whatever it might be. How did you achieve that? Because it's been done on a relatively low budget so far, how did you get to the point where you've generated all these followers?


Elina Furman [00:09:27]:

Yeah, so what I did before, even while I was prototyping the massager, while I was in production and manufacturing, there was like a full year, right. Because it's a lengthy process with all the certifications and so on. So I had this year and everybody, you know, I've been, I've been in marketing. I marketed different brands and products, but most people I know wait till they have the product and then they set up shop on social media, they set up their brand, everything is pretty and nobody comes because, you know, so what I did is I saw myself and the educational piece as my main way of earning organic following. So for me, call me is a brand around education, around baby massage education and so on, and other types of holistic methods. So I, so that first day, I made a TikTok video. I showed myself without even my product because I didn't even have my product for a year prior to starting my videos. I just started massaging a baby doll that I purchased.


Elina Furman [00:10:38]:

I printed up a little onesie with my brand name on it and I started teaching people how to massage their babies. And I think when you are providing a valuable service and you are not necessarily selling something right every single minute of every day, and we've seen that with so many brands, whether your goal is to entertain your customers, whether it's to educate your customers, you really need to provide value to your followers. Otherwise you're just, it's not, it's just, they're not going to follow you if you're just saying buy my product. So I was fortunate in that I had a year prior and I really spent a lot of time making educational videos showing all the different massage techniques. And people began to follow me and for definitely baby care advice. And slowly over time, that organic following kept growing and growing and the virality. And not only that, a lot of my videos got picked up by media, which was funny. I would get into like the sun magazine and like the Guardian in the UK because they just, I don't know why they loved me.


Elina Furman [00:11:52]:

And they ended, one time on Yahoo, picked up one of my videos because they were going viral to like 24 million views. So my most famous one was how to help your baby poop by massaging their feet. So of course, everybody, you know, parents, new babies and poop, like, you know, who can resist that?


Jon LaClare [00:12:15]:

Love it. And it's, I think you've explained a lot in a couple minutes of how this worked for you, but I think it's a great explanation on how others can do it too. Whatever our businesses are, it's all about connecting with our audience in a meaningful way and helping to really educate them. I always talk about our podcast. Our goal for our audience is to educate, motivate and inspire through stories that are shared from people like you, that have great businesses that you have built and are building and give ideas along the way. I think it's very similar when you're launching a product or a new service business as well. How do you connect with your audience in a way that is meaningful to them? And they not just watch a cool video one time, right? Like they might get brought in by that one video, but if you don't connect with them and give them real education or, you know, real connection, then they're not gonna watch your other videos, right? That's what happens a lot of time. So you build a long term following.


Elina Furman [00:13:07]:

Yeah. So the most important thing is just, I mean, I, because I didn't have a product, I was the product. I treated myself like I was the brand. And as I have done spokesperson work, I used to do a lot of writing books and so on and could talk about that later, but I was familiar with being a spokesperson for a lot of the brands that I was marketing because someone had to get up and do the tv shows and all of that. So when I started the brand, I knew I was going to be the spokesperson of the brand. And every founder, unless they are extremely camera shy and just completely clam up, really needs to take media training lessons. Like I think from the beginning, not just or even a Toastmasters, just to be able to get up, you know, and just start making videos. Delete the videos, you know, just do make a few videos.


Elina Furman [00:14:05]:

No one has to see them. No, you know, just start getting in there and really because it's just a muscle that you begin to train. And once you make ten awful videos, you know, the 11th is going to be fine and you're not going to be embarrassed anymore because you've done it before. So, you know, it's very important as the founder to see yourself as the authority and build authority outside of just your product. Because for instance, when I go on television, I talk about baby massage. I don't always talk about my product and, you know, they always plug so I get more tv and publicity opportunities because so many of the morning shows now, you know, will not let you come on if you're just promoting your product. So just expanding your idea of like how you see your role in the business. Not just a founder, you are a movement, you know, generator.


Elina Furman [00:15:05]:

You're speaking for, you're creating new trends, you're representing this philosophy that is behind your brand. And there is more opportunities in terms of thought leadership that will come up from a four pr and spreading the word that if you just, you know, put your product on Amazon, which is great, look, I mean, so, you know, you can be selling 50,000 units a day and that, and no one's going to bother you. But, you know, if you're looking to build a brand rather than just a one product company, I think that's essential.


Jon LaClare [00:15:41]:

You couldn't agree more. And I want to go back to a topic you just brought up of sort of practicing videos. A lot of people listening may think, this is not me, I can't be in video. I don't enjoy it. It'd be too hard or whatever it might be. A couple things I want to mention. I love how you talked about record a couple videos and delete them. It doesn't take long.


Jon LaClare [00:16:00]:

It doesn't have to. You can just say something off the cuff and just get familiar with the type of things you want to say and to find your own voice. And it will come. And it's okay to even publish some. That'll be good because they'll be great later. The more of this that you're able to do, and I always go back to a story I remember from working with Billy Mays back in early Oxiclean days where we did a 30 minutes infomercial with him. And for anybody who knows Billy Mays, he's the consummate professional pitchman. I would say the best ever.


Jon LaClare [00:16:28]:

But it wasn't always a one take. There was one specific we had 17 takes on this one line. We're trying to get out in a 30 minutes infomercial after a week long shoot or whatever, and it was just like an intonation of one word. We had to get perfect. And he just wasn't grasping. He's a master. We all have issues. Maybe we weren't communicating it, whatever it might be, but getting that perfected right for him, even it took time.


Jon LaClare [00:16:52]:

And we don't realize that there's multiple takes, oftentimes behind videos. And for you, a listener, that might just be, hey, record something, practice, get started. And once you get it down, this can be something where you're literally holding your phone and speaking to it. It can be simple, but start to connect with your audience because they love to see the founder. They love to have that connection to a person rather than just a product. And it's something that lasts a lot longer, as well as you launch new products or as they encourage them to share with others or whatever it might be. But building up that authority. So I'm glad you brought that up.


Jon LaClare [00:17:25]:

I want to talk quickly about paid ads as well. So you and I, in a previous conversation, talked about how you used this organic, quote unquote free building of a million followers to eventually do more successful paid ads. And one of the great things you can add onto this as well. But one of the things I love about that strategy is when you've got followers that actually care about you, you're not paying to show them videos, right? They're following you, they're watching them. Now you can market to that same group, Facebook, Instagram especially. They make it difficult for just, they'll suppress your videos. Unless you're paying to boost or run a paid ad or whatever, you still get some views, but you get that connection. So now you've got an audience that cares about you, they're paying attention and it becomes low hanging fruit.


Jon LaClare [00:18:10]:

Right. You can run a paid campaign to them. They know you, they love you, and now it's just time to like, hey, by the way, did you know I have this product and it's a much easier purchase from now. Huge audience to really catapult that growth.


Elina Furman [00:18:24]:

Yeah. And the other part of that is that when you have a organic audience that already is following you, a large audience, you can streamline your messaging and you can basically use them as a focus group. Because in that year when I, it wasn't just about building awareness. I was learning about which videos are going to hit the heart, you know, the best. I knew the terms, the biggest pain points. I knew how I read every message and comment because I know I got into my audience's head. And so that kind of market research, you're just never going to get prior to, you know, when you're in pre launch stage, no matter how many surveys you take. Right.


Elina Furman [00:19:12]:

Because people, you know, self report, but that's never as accurate as just like understanding how they like to be talked to, their voices, their, how they communicate with each other. So you really learn a lot about your demographic, your messaging. You can hone that really tightly. So then when you're, when you're going to spend the program and you're, you know, putting money behind it, you aren't kind of shooting blinks in the dark and you have much more intelligence when it comes to that.


Jon LaClare [00:19:43]:

Great points. I'd love to talk about authority, which you brought up. There's tv, magazine interviews, et cetera. And then a few minutes ago, you mentioned a book that you're launching as well. Can you talk to us about that book?


Elina Furman [00:19:54]:

Yeah. So my career has been all over the place, but when I graduated college, I just decided I was going to get my book published about how to survive a life after college. And I got my first book published right when I graduated. And since then I wrote about 20 books with leading major publishers. But then I moved into marketing. And so when I became, when I launched my own brand, call me, I decided that, you know, I really wanted to have more opportunities in terms of reaching a different type of audience who might not necessarily be right online having a different format. So I sold my book 101 baby hacks, and it's available for pre order now to a publisher, I went directly to the publisher, Ben Bello Books, which is a wonderful place and great editors. And it's just so important to have brand extension because we know digital marketing is, our hands are tied at every Google sending, you know, creating new rules about this and you know, iOS is creating new rules.


Elina Furman [00:21:04]:

You can't access your own people anymore, you know, so books are this one thing that you can still really reach a different audience. And so having a brand extension through publishing is just so important for so many reasons. Obviously it allows you to go deeper into your story, your narrative, your point of view. And my book is very prescriptive, it's very short, every chapter is very short because parents don't have any time to read. But it does explain all the different strokes and massages. But it's just important when I also, when I go out to do speaking events or when I'm working with my PR agency now I have a book and I will be able to have more opportunities for obviously getting awareness towards my brand through different channels than if I just had my product and me. And having a book is just a nice brand extension.


Jon LaClare [00:22:10]:

Absolutely. And almost whatever business you're in, it's a way when you start down that path of educating your audience, like you talked about early on, now you've written other books, right, but preliminary to this book, you have spent time connecting with your audience, giving them gradual content and getting that feedback on what resonates, what works, gives you ideas to go into your book. So it's, I think, encouraging our audience. It doesn't mean you have to sit down today and write a book, but as you start working on content, keep notes on what's working and it'll give you good ideas to go to as a next stage for doing a book, which can be a really a wide open opportunity to meet with new pr opportunities or chances that you wouldn't otherwise have, because as you said, a lot of them don't want to talk about products, they could get enough of those and you pitch those all the time. But books are a whole different story.


Elina Furman [00:22:56]:

And publishers are looking for platforms. So if you start building your social media platforms, you know right away, right before as you're launching, you really building up that platform that you're going to need to be able to sell to publishers because publishers are having a really hard time and they're relying on business owners and influencers to use the strength of their audience to bring that to their, to the sales to make sure that. Yeah, because you know, every, you need to be everywhere now, because, you know, whether it's, it's direct to consumer wholesale, you need to have your book, you need to have, I mean, I don't have a tv show yet, but we'll try working on it eventually.


Jon LaClare [00:23:39]:

It's like you said, you get everywhere, but you don't need to be everywhere on day one.


Elina Furman [00:23:42]:

And that's the other thing. Pick your channels, too. I really think it's important. So I started with TikTok and that really exploded and went up to 500,000 quickly and Instagram was super slow before that. And then I found that Instagram is converting better for me. And so I put more eggs in that basket. And when you're starting up, there's only one of you. And I was self funded.


Elina Furman [00:24:10]:

And so you really need to figure out where's the highest, greatest use of your energy and really double down on what's working rather than spreading yourself too thin.


Jon LaClare [00:24:22]:

Agreed. Well, Elina, this has been a really fun interview. Thanks for sharing all these great insights. Is there anything I didn't ask that you think would be helpful for our audience?


Elina Furman [00:24:30]:

I think it's just, yeah, I think we talked about everything, but I just really want to emphasize the importance of starting early, putting yourself out there as much as possible, or finding someone that you really feel like could represent the brand well and really leaning into the education and authority building. Because in the end, there's million copycats and there's a million, you know, if you have a successful product, they'll copy it and, but if you have innovative idea and you have built your authority as the leader in that space, it's harder to copy what you're doing. So. And that's really the only kind of security we have in this day and age.


Jon LaClare [00:25:15]:

Well said. Yeah. Your products are much easier copy than authority. I think it's a great way to summarize that. This has been fantastic. Our audience, please check out kahlmi.com dot. It's kahlmi.com dot. If you're driving, don't worry about it.


Jon LaClare [00:25:29]:

We'll put it in the show notes. Of course, always go back and check harvestgrowthpodcast.com or wherever you listen to your podcast. Look for that in the show notes. Elina, thank you so much again, thank you so much.


Elina Furman [00:25:40]:

That was great.


Jon LaClare [00:25:41]:

Did you know you can meet with a member of my team absolutely free for a 30 minutes strategy consultation. We've launched and grown hundreds of products since 2007 and learned some of our strategies while growing oxiclean back in the Billy Mays days. We're here to help. So please go to harvestgrowth.com and set up a call if you'd like to discuss further.


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