Vanessa Coppes of BELLA Media + Co on how determining who her customer was changed her business
Describe BELLA Media + Co in a few words?
Lifestyle media company sharing content and resources for living a beautiful life.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
My mental health. Launching my business literally saved my life. I was suffering from postpartum depression and needed a creative outlet. I launched my custom jewelry business and blog simultaneously. My writing has been my saving grace. While my jewelry landed my brand in the hands of celebrities, my writing has sustained me since it’s launch in 2009.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I am a former ESL and High School English Literature Teacher. I did that for 17 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Great question. I’ve had my own business since I was in 3rd grade. So yes, since I was 7 I knew I wanted to make my own money and call the shots.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I was all over the place until I hired a Branding + Marketing Coach. She walked me through what building a brand actually looks like and what and who my ideal customer was. The minute I connected to who I should be selling to and where, it changed the game. I needed to be where my customer was. So I did that and that’s truly when my hobby turned into a full fledged business that paid for itself and made additional income.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Hire slowly and fire quickly. I heard that 3 years into my biz and it registered. Hiring the right people for my team had always been challenging in the beginning. I would like someone’s personality and didn’t give much thought to how capable they were of carrying out the tasks they had been hired for. I did a lot of hiring and firing in my first 3 years of business. It wasn’t until about 5 years into my business that I had more knowledge about who I needed vs. who I wanted.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I bought the company I used to work for with the intention of changing the culture around women’s media. I am so proud of the vibe and the team that belongs to this greater mission of empowering men and women to live beautiful lives.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
“Why do you want to work here?” The why tells you a lot about where people see themselves fitting into your vision. There’s a lot of glitz and glam and tons of fun involved in the work I do, but the why matters most. You have to love this industry and this work because it can be all consuming, just as your business can be. I also ask how people like to spend their free time. You can learn so much about others and what they value.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The first few weeks I think I was hours away from a full blown panic attack. The sole reason: I have people whose livelihood depends on what I pay them. I couldn’t stomach having an impact on someone not being able to pay their rent. The universe delivered so much grace to my company and my team. They are so committed and invested in the bigger picture, they wouldn’t let me quit. My team constantly reminds me of how much I motivate and inspire them. The truth is, they are my motivation to keep going. They understand why we do what we do, why we feature the people we do and how we do it all: with intention. That intention fueled our creativity like never before. We shifted our direction to people, feel good, impact and mission driven stories. We also created lifestyle products that helped amplify our brand. It’s what has kept me in business.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
More fabulousness from everyone on the BELLA team.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Truly that we have all we need at our reach to make anything work for us and others. Love, empathy, compassion and kindness will always win.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Your business is a reflection of who you are. I thought I had to separate from who I was in order to be “professional”. Turns out that felt inauthentic and made it hard for me to connect with others. Once I dropped the formalities and started to connect with others on a human level, everything shifted.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
My kids have always managed to do that for me. They keep me brutally honest and present. I also have never done so much yoga! Meditation has been a key part of my life since I was 13, but this past year I combined it with my yoga practice.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe you do what you can and what you need to when you can. Balance in my life does not exist. I am picking and choosing constantly and what I choose determines the rest. When you say yes to 1 thing, you are saying no to many others. For me, even when you don’t know what the next step is, you do the right thing. I believe in flow and manifesting and that things are what they are. We can only control our reaction to circumstances and if you are truly intentional, everything will work out for your benefit. Period.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
People are always surprised to learn I suffer from depression. I have learned tools and enrolled people in my life to help and support me through my bouts, but that has taken years to learn. And sometimes that’s even draining to acknowledge and manage. I have accepted it and do the best I can, every day.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Wake up early. Give thanks. Do one act of self-love/ self-care. Fill yourself up before you tackle everything and everyone else.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Empowering other women to build a business to serve a life they love.