How my wife started a profitable online business in 2 weeks time

I have been completely blown away the last few weeks. What I’ve been trying to do for the last year my wife did in just over a weeks time. She launched her own online business and got her first sales within a week. Pretty amazing. How did she do it? I had to try and figure this out!

1, First of all, she found something that she was dissatisfied with. In this case, the fact that there are no chemical free skin care products. This is something she needed to change. Not with the idea of having a product to sell eventually, but mostly for her own sake. There was a void that needed to be filled.

2, When she decided she wanted to do something about it she immediately started to search for information on how to create your own body creams and scrubs in a completely organic way. Google and YouTube are every start-up’s best friend when it comes to simply figuring stuff out, which usually takes up 95% of your time when starting a business from scratch.

3, After experimenting with different mixes of ingredients she found a formula that she loved. At this phase she is still doing this for herself with no intention of building a business out of it.

4, Inevitably, when you have an amazing product, it will speak for itself. She took some samples for her co-workers to try out and got the first couple of orders from her friends right there and then. They were offered to choose from a variety of scents ranging from Energizing Citrus Mint to Lavender Eucalyptus for their body scrub and body cream.

 5,This experience opened up our eyes that maybe we should give this a shot and design a simple website with a web shop and make it easy for people to order online. We also explained the back story of how this product came about and why it is a better alternative to the skin care products you can find on the shelves in stores.

Since the start less than a month ago my wife has shipped Bembli Body products to two countries and four U.S. states. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She did it because she found an existing product that needed to be improved or changed and since nobody was doing it she did it herself, for herself. And as it turns out, other people were looking for the same product without even knowing it, until it was presented to them.

Lindsey is now experimenting and developing new completely organic and chemical free products, from shower gel to tooth paste. Our newest product is our Bembli Body Lip Balm, perfect for these arctic winters! For more information about our business make sure to check out Bembli Body.com.

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What I’ve discovered from two years of living abroad

It’s been just short of two years since I moved to the States from Sweden. Wow, time really does fly it’s ridiculous. Two years of figuring stuff out and basically, wait for it, big words coming up, finding out who I am.

I used to be shy as a kid. I still am. Or is it called introverted when you grow up? Anyway, back then it was out of control. I always felt like someone was staring at me and watching my every move and judging me for some unknown reason. I discovered I couldn’t relax while amongst people I didn’t know. I was thinking about this all the time and something I kept to myself and didn’t want to talk about because I was pissed. I knew I had a problem. I had plans on doing big things in my life and go places and meet new people but I couldn’t with this stupid shyness.

I gradually got over this by challenging myself as often as I could. If there was an event or party with lots of people I didn’t know I forced my body to transport itself to that place and be uncomfortable for a while. When we had presentations in school I forced myself to stay in front of the class an couple of extra minutes and answer whatever questions my classmates had even though I didn’t have to and even though I was shaking as a leaf. When I went to China with a couple of friends from Sweden I forced myself to take a taxi alone and go sing Karaoke in downtown Shanghai with some Chinese students I’ve met the previous night. They had written down the address on a piece of paper for me to show to the taxi driver who didn’t speak English and constantly smoked cigarettes. He was literally breathing cigarettes, not air. (This turned out to be one of the most memorable nights in my life).

After a while I started to realize that being around other people I barely knew wasn’t so bad and I started enjoying it. I switched focus from myself to my surroundings. Even if I made a fool out of myself, who cares? Absolutely nobody.

The most (and pretty much only) difficult part in living far away is being away from family, there’s no getting around that. But at the same time, being far away from home doesn’t only mean that I get to discover new amazing places and people. It allows me to discover myself as well in a way I couldn’t at home. I act in a certain way when I’m around familiar people and that made it hard to see how I would act outside of that safety net and in that way, experience new sides of myself.

Some people dislike growing older. I don’t. I don’t want to go back being that super shy kid I used to be. The beauty of growing older, at 28, is that I feel like I am finally starting to get to know me. I learn exactly what I like and don’t like, how I react to certain things and environments, how to handle various situations and I learn what I need around me to feel great. I try to stress less over small things and just let them happen in order to focus on what matters to make the big things happen. I try to separate work time from non-work related time and I try to be grateful every day for the short amount of time I’ve been given to spend on this planet. (The fact that Swedish coffee Gevalia is available over here makes it a lot easier).

Gevalia
Länsmuseet Gävleborg / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

What I Learned From Working At The Airport

There is something special about the night before you go on a long backpacking journey. All the excitement and expectations have been building up in your head. What will that city be like? Who will I meet? Where will I stay the first night? 

All these thoughts makes it impossible to get any sleep. This is a good thing, being dazed and sleepy makes me care less about the security checkpoints at the airport and somehow everything seems to go faster than usual. Before I know it I’m passed out in my seat 30 000 feet up in the air dreaming about the adventures to come.

Most big journeys start at the airport. This is a pretty special place for me. I used to work as a baggage handler at the largest airport in Sweden some years ago for a couple of summers. I was the guy in the yellow vest down on the ground throwing your baggage onto the conveyor belt up to my buddy who was neatly stacking the bags in the luggage compartment right underneath your seats. We used to get all kinds of weird things in there – snakes, mice, coffins, monkeys, all the equipment for the Swedish national hockey team (that was kind of a big deal for me).

I preferred to work early mornings when there wasn’t a lot of flights. I would walk out on the tarmac in the sunrise, take a deep breath of fresh air and watch my flight land and slowly taxi its way to my gate. It’s a pretty awesome experience to have a Boeing 747 slowly approach you head on until the front landing gear is right in front of your face and you can connect the electricity so that the pilot can shut off the four massive jet engines. You need to look calm and cool and act like you know what the heck you are doing while you stand there so that the veterans don’t make fun of you.

I really enjoyed working at the airport. I loved the smell of jet fuel. I loved to watch people from all over the world come and go every day. I loved to see the pure happiness of a reunited family and the hard goodbyes of loved ones. I learned that people aren’t so different from one another no matter what part of the world you come from. I learned that you should always wrap your wine bottle in something soft if you decide to have it checked in. I also learned that connecting more than eight fully packed baggage carts to your tow tractor and make a sharp 90 degree right turn is a bad idea. But that’s another story.

KLM 777 pushback
Foter.com / CC BY-SA

5 Ways To Make 2014 a Happy Year In Your Career

I seems to me that the older we get the faster the years go by. It feels like I just got used to writing 2013 as the date when all of a sudden it’s New Year’s again and in comes 2014. I had a year full of ups and downs like most people but it was also a year of clarity.

Recent studies show that three out of four are working “just for the paycheck” in 2013. This is a significant increase from the 50% that said the same in 2012. Why is this? Are we all doomed to be unhappy 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year? Definitely not! I want to be happy! I’ll share my 2 cents and I’ll let you know what I did to improve my own situation.

 

1, If you hate your job – QUIT

Listen, spending time day in and day out at a job that makes you miserable isn’t what anyone strives for. Don’t wait for something to magically happen that will take you out of your misery. There is never going to be a perfect timing. Start planning an exit strategy now. Search for alternatives. Network. Life is too short and you know what, quitting your job IS NOT going to kill you. Just make sure you have an exit strategy of some sort and you will be fine.

 

2, Don’t label yourself

You have more skills than you think and do not put a label on yourself. By doing that you limit yourself and your mind to think that this label is who you are, and that’s the only asset you have in your professional life. Don’t do this. I will give you an example. As an industrial designer I need to be good at sketching, problem solving, creative thinking, I need to have personal skills to deal with clients, maybe I will have to build my own website which requires me to learn about web design and whatever that involves – web hosting, domain registration, article writing, coding, SEO optimization etc., I need to learn about entrepreneurship if I work for myself – marketing, video editing to put together a showreel, solve taxes, I have to know how to promote myself to get work and so on. All of this goes under the label “Industrial Designer”. Make sure you know what your skills are and utilize all of them to figure out your exit strategy. Put all of your skills down on paper and hang that piece of paper up on the wall right in front of you at your workspace.

 

3, Sign up on freelance websites

So now that we know all the skills we have it is time to put them to use. Sign up on freelance websites such as freelancer.com, elance.com and guru.com. They are all linked here on my site under “Resources”. On these sites employers, who most of the time are single individuals, post what they need done and you as a freelancer make a bid on the projects that suits your skill set. It could be anything from designing a website to accounting or finding extras for a film set. In this bid you explain why you are the best fit for this particular project and how much you would charge to complete it. Go back and take a look at the piece of paper filled with all of your skills. Don’t be intimidated, you are capable of more than you think.

Try it out, you got nothing to lose!

 

4, Surround yourself with positive people

It’s pretty amazing how people around you affect your motivation and mood. Make sure you are surrounded by people who believes in what you do and loves you. The rest are just a waste of time and you won’t get anything from them except self doubt and negative energy. Strive to be the dumbest person in the room as often as you can and learn from others. I read a quote once, it goes

“Spending time with people you love and who inspire you is not about making money or having fun. It’s a matter of life and death.”

I couldn’t agree more!

 

5, Exercise

Now I have to say I haven’t really lived up to this point the last couple of months and I have no excuse for that. Exercising makes such a big difference in my energy level and I feel less motivated or “driven” when I don’t exercise. I become lazy and I don’t care about what I eat as much. This is going to change though! My wife and I are joining a gym in a couple of days, and no, this is not one of those New Year’s resolutions that only last a month (tops). I will post a classic before/after picture right here on my site in about 6 months and hopefully we will see a little more muscle and a little less fat by then. I’m not worried though. It’s just that incredible mac&cheese that is my worst enemy. See, we don’t have that in Sweden, I never tried it before moving over to the States and I got pretty hooked. But I shall prevail!!

 

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  ~Wayne Gretzky

 

5 Easy Steps To Improve Your Sketching

Some people think that being able to draw and sketch is something you are born with. I guess I can agree to some extent but having talent doesn’t mean anything if you don’t nurture it. This brings me to step number 1 on how to improve your sketching.

1. PRACTICE

Now, this is probably the single most important step out of the five. Without practice, improvement is impossible. Draw everyday. Draw on envelopes, draw in the sand on the beach, draw something with your finger on the mirror in the bathroom after you shower. Draw, draw, draw and then draw some more. This step will also let you know if you really want to become better at drawing, or any skill for that matter, or if it’s just a wish you have. You have to put in the time, simple as that.

2. LOOK AROUND

Take a look around wherever you are. Try to draw that scene that’s in front of you on a piece of paper. Keep it loose and don’t be too serious about it. Try to block out the main elements of the scene. Is there a mountain or a hill nearby? Maybe a horse is watching you look around from the field over there? Or are you overlooking a skyline of a city? What are the main buildings? Keep it loose. When you feel like you’re done, turn around 180 degrees and now sketch whatever is behind you.

3. PUT STUFF ON A FLAT SURFACE

Take an item that is close by. A coffee cup. Or a guitar. Yes, I am just looking at my desk right now and writing the things I see. A watch maybe? Take that item and put it on a flat surface preferably during daytime when you have natural light. Look at where the shades are and where the highlights hit the object. Is it glossy or matte? Shiny or dull? Try to sketch it. Put it down on paper. Now that you have a nice sketch of a coffee cup, try rotate it and rotate yourself around the object and sketch it from another point of view and in another light. Remember step 1.

4. COPY YOUR IDOL

I have a lot of artist I look up to when it comes to their style. I want to have their style and combine it with my own. So I try to copy what they do. I study their work and try to figure out how did they do it. How did they get it to look like that and why is this here and what is that thing over there. Did they draw this thing first or maybe they started over here? After I’ve thought about it for a while, I bring out a blank piece of paper or canvas and I try to copy their style. The funny thing is that in this process, you’ll notice that you’re already coming up with new and unique styles without even knowing it. You are trying to copy one style but there’s nothing that can stop your own default style from affecting the result. This is how you find your own, individual style.

5. WATCH MY YOUTUBE TUTORIALS!

Yes, I am shamelessly going to promote my own video tutorials on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/LexOrABenz). These are made for anyone who wants to learn about sketching and I try to cover as many areas as I can. If you want me to make a video about a subject that you are interested in just let me know and I will try and cover that in coming videos.

Now, I hope these steps will help you unleash your inner beast of an artist. Remember to have fun, that is the most important thing. Otherwise you might as well stop and spend time on something you enjoy doing. But since you read this far, I assume you will at least try and draw a stick figure on the bathroom mirror after your next shower.

pencil

How to Kill Procrastination and Get Things Done

Sometimes I have a task at hand and know exactly what needs to be done, but it is so hard to start doing it. It might be something like doing the dishes. Or going for a run. Or maybe I have some client work that needs to get started. When I pass the pile of dishes I think to myself “I’ll do it after I finish doing whatever it is I am currently doing”. And when I am done doing that I still push the thoughts of doing the dishes away. I know it needs to be done sooner or later, where is this procrastination coming from? It happens to all of us at some point. I used to do this a lot more often before, until I discovered a simple trick that always solves the problem and get the dishes done in no time.

Whenever I catch myself procrastinating I think to myself what the absolute first step would be in order to get the task done and then I set a deadline for myself. If you don’t have a deadline, you will let the task at hand fill out a time space that is unlimited, which leads to tasks taking way longer than they should. What I’ve learned is, as soon as you take that tiny little first step, the rest is easy. I am not saying getting to that first step is easy. I don’t know why but that’s just how it is, at least for me. All I need to do is get that tremendous amount of energy and motivation to transport my body into the kitchen and grab the sponge. I know if I get all the way to that point, I will not want to go back. After that point, I am pumped to do the dishes. It’s always that first step to just GET GOING that is so hard to overcome sometimes.

So if you’re like me when it comes to this, just remember to take the initial step as soon as you can. If you have sketches to do, put a blank piece of paper in front of you, grab a pen and draw a single line. If you have writing to do, open up notepad and write “I have just opened notepad and now I am going to start writing the things I need to write”. If you told yourself you were going to go for a run at 4 and now it’s 4.30, stand up and stretch for 1 minute and put on your running shoes. There’s no turning back after that amount of effort.

So to get things done, just grab the sponge and the dishes will be done before you know it.

procrastination

How to Decide What to Study

I recently received an email from an engineering student asking a question I think a lot of students ask themselves. I thought it would be interesting to share our conversation with you.

MD writes:

Dear Marouane,

I stumbled upon your work through LinkedIn, then Youtube and eventually checked out your blog. I admire your artistic skills and appreciate your art.
I’m writing to you, seeking your advice, because you seem like someone who is passionate about what you do. I will soon be finishing a bachelor’s degree in engineering (Mech/Aerospace) and I’m questioning my willingness to follow this as a career, as I now know I have no interest or passion for engineering (as a career).
However I’ve always loved art, graphic design, and product design. I have recently considered following a career in design, and I intend to apply to the industrial design program at my university, after graduating from engineering.
Having to make this decision got me doing some serious life thinking, considering the pros and cons or following either an engineering career or starting fresh as an industrial design student. As I see it, it comes down to this:
-I either do what I love and follow my passion for design as a career,  but assume the risks, i.e, both financial (income wise) and in terms of job market
OR
-I continue in engineering, start my career sooner, have a much easier time finding a job and make much more money. But, I know I might hate going to work everyday.
From your experience as a designer and entrepreneur, what would your advice be with regards to this situation. Additionally, is it difficult to make a decent living as a designer?
I wish to follow my passion in design but I’d like to weight out the risks of doing so.
If you did get to this point, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to read my email and I hope you’ll get a chance to respond.
Your sincere advice would be greatly appreciated.
My response:
Hi MD,
Thank you so much for your email and for checking out my online content.
I read somewhere that 40 hours a week, 50 weeks per year isn’t just a job, that is your life. So you better make sure you are spending it doing something you love. This had a massive impact on me. It goes for both what you chose to work with and what subjects you pick to study. I can only speak for myself and I don’t know if you read my story on my blog but I recently quit my full time job as a designer to start something on my own. I didn’t enjoy being dependent on one source and working for someone else so I took a leap of faith and quit. What’s the worse that can happen right?
It’s been a month now and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. And none of my fears I had came true. It is hard work, but as long as you feel excited to get up in the morning and do what you’re passionate about it, it certainly doesn’t feel like work. And honestly, I couldn’t live WITHOUT this “work”. It gives me the challenges I need to get to the next step and gives me room to figure out ways on how to get there.
Regarding risks.. Isn’t everything a risk? Stepping outside the door in the morning while going for a jog is a risk, you could get hit by a car and spend the last minutes of your life regretting the choices you didn’t take. So as I see it you only have one choice – find what makes you happy and stick with it. That way you will have no regrets and everything will sort itself out.
I hope this gave you something to think about and let me know what you decide to do!
Regards,
Marouane Bembli
“Do your work with your whole heart, and you will succeed – there’s so little competition.”