Cyndi Ramirez is the perfect example of a girl boss. As the founder of Chillhouse — a modern self-care spa located in New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood, she has established her brand as an authority in modern self-care. Cyndi’s story is an amazing testament to the power of a truly engaged community. From her days as a lifestyle blogger to the wildly successful brick and mortar and e-commerce store, Cyndi has taken Chillhouse to new heights. She joins Her Life By Design to share her entrepreneurial journey. Tune in as we dive into tactical business tips, and how Cyndi Ramirez turned a blog into a self-care empire.
How Cyndi Ramirez Turned a Blog Into a Self-Care Empire
Despite Chillhouse’s success, no one on the team had ever run a spa or come from a traditional beauty background. To get Chillhouse started on the right foot, Cyndi hired experts and consultants. These experts trained their staff in massages, nails, and each individual department. Furthermore, Chillhouse appoints lead titles across each department. This helps them maintain a level of expertise across the board with every service they provide.
This is the difference between a solopreneur and a CEO. Knowing when to hand over the reins and leaning on experts in their respective fields is key to growing and nurturing a business.
But before we get to where Chillhouse is today, we need to understand how it started. Here’s how Cyndi was able to build a unique brand in a crowded space.
Finding Your Unique Proposition
In true entrepreneurial fashion, Cyndi loved exploring and experimenting with different types of business models. This allowed her to find a unique space while creating new ways to generate revenue. What started as a lifestyle blog titled “Taste the Style,” eventually evolved into an editorial platform called “The Chill Times.” The Chill Times covers all things wellness in a no-fuss, no-frills, straightforward way.
Cyndi’s blog blossomed and managed to build a decent readership and community, which made room for more opportunities. This has allowed Cyndi and The Chill Times to collaborate with brands from Nike to Uniqlo, adding another revenue stream. The site eventually expanded into an online shop that curated third-party products before launching Chillhouse’s very own line of products.
Exploring these avenues from the online blog, a brick and mortar store, to the e-commerce shop has solidified Chillhouse’s authority in the modern self-care space.
Research, Planning, and Positioning
If you’re a blogger hoping to follow in Cyndi’s footsteps, or maybe you’ve always dreamed of opening a brick and mortar store, Cyndi has some sound advice for you. As you’re first starting out, it’s important to “have a business plan and do a lot of competitive research,” Cyndi advises.
Doing your research and planning will allow you to better understand where you and your brand will sit in the market. Additionally, Cyndi emphasizes the importance of “really knowing who your audience is going to be, what they’re willing to spend, and where they’re going to be.”
Doing this will lay a strong foundation for your client base, allowing you to build an engaged community that feels aligned with your brand and business.
However, things are a little different when it comes to opening a brick and mortar store. In terms of searching for a physical location for your store, Cyndi recommends trying to “lean on as many brokers and their connections as much as possible.”
This brings Cyndi to her next piece of advice…
The Importance of a Reliable Network
Cyndi’s advice of leaning on brokers and their connections emphasizes the importance of networking. “At the end of the day,” Cyndi explains, “brokers are very helpful and they want to see you succeed if you end up being their client.” In Cyndi’s experience, “they [brokers] may be really helpful during the journey if you’re very, very new.”
But networking doesn’t begin and end with brokers. In fact, Chillhouse is funded by Cyndi, her family, friends, and angel investors. This allowed them to avoid the need for institutional capital and fundraising thus far. “You’d be surprised if you just put out a couple of feelers–there’s always someone that’s going to know someone that’s going to know someone.”
All of Chillhouse’s fundraising comes from her network that has always been part of her orbit and community. This is special because “you already have a built-in support system because these are people who want to see you succeed.”
Cyndi attributes Chillhouse’s success to this powerful bond and network of people. Since each individual has skin in the game, they genuinely are interested in seeing Chillhouse succeed.
Pivoting to E-Commerce in 2020
It’s no secret that brick and mortar stores were widely impacted in 2020. And before the height of the pandemic, 85% of Chillhouse’s projected revenue relied solely on their brick and mortar location. Additionally, up to 10% of their projected revenue came from brand partnerships. Which leaves the odd remaining sum allotted to e-commerce and online sales.
Needless to say, 2020 has shaken everything up, and pivoting to e-commerce didn’t come without struggles. “I’m such an in-person entrepreneur, so it’s been really hard on me,” Cyndi confesses.
Although expanding into the world of e-commerce was difficult, Cyndi saw it as an opportunity to “learn how to adapt to new ways of operating.”
Instead of viewing the pandemic as a problem for her business, she hopped on the chance to learn and adapt.
“I think there’s a world in which we can see both sides of the business thriving,” Cyndi remarks. Focusing on the benefits and not the problems, Cyndi saw the silver lining in e-commerce. “The nice thing about product is that there really isn’t a limit to your growth.”
And through their products and platform, Chillhouse can serve people all around the world from New York to Europe.
In this episode, Cyndi dives into actionable and tactical tips for running an e-commerce store. She discusses important topics like finding manufacturers, and how to go about building a product inventory.
Chill Tips from the Queen of Chill
We couldn’t have the queen of chill on the show without asking her for her best at home chill tips. To which her advice is simply to find what works best for you. “Like anything, it’s finding a rhythm that fits and not beating yourself up over it for having weeks where you’re not feeling it.”
When it comes to self-care, one size does not fit all. Recognizing that everyone is different and that your needs might not look like someone else’s is key. For instance, Cyndi doesn’t meditate or have a fancy routine. But she knows that certain activities, like exercising, can improve her mood.
Another silver lining that Cyndi found in 2020 was that people were starting to become more open and honest. People started sharing more about their emotions, insecurities, and uncertainties. “There was this element of ‘we’re in it together’,” Cyndi notes, “and at the end of the day, leaning on people is the best form of self-care. That definitely helped me get through last year.”
Cyndi and I chat about what self-care could look like. And spoiler alert: it isn’t some elaborate routine. Instead, self-care can be created and found in little moments and simple actions. Whether it’s lighting a candle on your desk as you work, or just letting water run over you in the tub, self-care is whatever makes you feel great.
The Power of Dreaming Big
If Cyndi is proof of anything, it’s that no dream is too big to accomplish. As bloggers, influencers, and online entrepreneurs, the sky is truly the limit. Cyndi’s entrepreneurial journey of taking a lifestyle blog into a fully-fledged business proves the power of a strong community that identifies with your brand. Tune in to this episode if you’re looking for tactical advice and an inspiration boost from the queen of chill who has rightfully earned her spot as a leading figure in modern self-care.
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