Creating the first handheld Baby Massager – Elina Furman of Kahlmi
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 45:35)
Sponsors & Partners
Elina Furman of Kahlmi shares the story of creating the first baby massager that helps soothe babies. Even before bringing the product to market Furman built a strong and engaged organic following of over 800,000 followers through educational content about baby massage on social media, which gave her the perfect customer base when launching the product.
Elina Furman, the founder of Kahlmi, a baby wellness brand specializing in baby massagers, shares her entrepreneurial journey in this video. After working in the baby industry for 15 years and taking a sabbatical, she decided to create a product that would help soothe babies and support mothers through baby massage. Furman discusses how she built a strong organic following of over 800,000 followers through educational content about baby massage on social media. She also talks about the design of her baby massager, the “Thera gun for Babies,” which was created in collaboration with therapists and medical professionals. Furman emphasizes the importance of building trust and loyalty with her audience before promoting her products. She reflects on the challenges she faced and the support she received along the way. Furman also discusses her approach to wholesale, the importance of validating the product, and her plans for the future.
- 00:00:00 In this section, the host introduces Elina Furman, the founder of Kahlmi, a baby wellness brand that specializes in baby massagers. Elina shares her entrepreneurial journey, starting from when she moved to the US as an immigrant and became a published author. After working in the baby industry for 15 years and taking a sabbatical, she realized her passion for products that promote maternal and neonatal wellness. Inspired by her own experience with her son’s colic, she decided to create a product that would help soothe babies and support mothers through baby massage. Alongside the massager, Elina also focuses on providing educational content for parents to learn about baby massage and its benefits.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses how she built a strong organic following of over 800,000 followers across TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook by creating educational content about baby massage. She emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about baby massage and the benefits it offers. Furman explains that she chose to educate and inspire her audience through a combination of baby massage videos, research studies, and statistics. By showcasing the ancient practice of baby massage and its science-based benefits, Furman attracted a global audience who were passionate about the content. However, her main challenge now is figuring out how to convert her followers into customers as she develops different products, such as massage oils and courses, to cater to their varied interests and needs.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses the design of her baby massager, called the “Thera gun for Babies.” She explains that the device is not just a regular massager, but a specially designed product with gentle vibrations and edible grade silicon for babies to safely use. The massager also doubles as a vibrating teether for babies experiencing gum pain. Furman emphasizes that the design was created in collaboration with therapists, PTs, OTs, and pediatricians, taking into consideration the specific needs of babies and children. She shares that the product launch involved sharing updates and drawings with her audience, acknowledging that some people were initially confused or skeptical about using a vibrational device on babies. However, Furman believes that building a community requires authenticity and takes time for people to understand and embrace something new.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses the importance of building trust and loyalty with her audience before promoting her products. She clarifies that she is not a doctor and cannot provide medical advice, but she is honest and transparent about her intentions to release products. She gradually introduces her prototypes and demonstrates how she uses them with babies. Furman also talks about her marketing strategy, which includes launching a landing page to collect email addresses for a subscriber base. She mentions the regulatory testing process for baby products and assures compliance with the required standards. Furman reveals that her products are manufactured in China due to cost constraints for tech products in the US. She explains the various investments she made, including molds, patents, trademarks, website development, and branding. Despite the financial risks involved, Furman self-funded her venture to maintain control. She reflects on the uncertainty and doubts she faced throughout the process but remained confident in her vision.
- 00:20:00 In this section, Elina Furman reflects on her journey of starting her own business and the initial fear and uncertainty she faced. She shares how her support system, including her mother, helped her push through the challenges. Furman explains that she gradually gained more confidence as she took small steps forward and built momentum. She discusses the importance of conducting focus groups, getting expert advice, and receiving feedback to improve her product. Furman also mentions the value of having a backup plan and multiple product ideas if her initial concept didn’t resonate with customers. When asked about her marketing strategies, Furman emphasizes the importance of organic marketing and social media. She recently started using Facebook ads and working on email campaigns to reach a wider audience. Additionally, Furman has focused on building her authority and thought leadership within the baby massage space through PR and earned media.
- 00:25:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses her various projects and how she manages her team. She mentions that she has been working with contractors for a long time but has now formed a partnership with a group led by her current partner. This group consists of designers, Amazon experts, and fulfillment staff who help her with sourcing and creating new products. Furman values having a supportive team as it allows her to focus on marketing and product development without having to worry about logistics. She also talks about the positive response she has received from customers, especially when they express how much they love her product and how it has helped them. This feedback has been a source of relief and inspiration for Furman.
- 00:30:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses the importance of validating the product and being customer-focused. She emphasizes the need to personally engage with customers and understand their needs and issues. Furman also mentions that she is fortunate to have a partner who manages the fulfillment and shipping process, allowing her to focus on the big vision and avoid burnout. Looking ahead, Furman plans to introduce new products that promote mindfulness and mental health wellness for kids and families. Additionally, she wants to explore distribution channels in the Special Needs Market and reach therapists and wellness practitioners interested in holistic methods. She aims to build a sustainable and organic business rather than rushing for quick exits or scaling rapidly.
- 00:35:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses her approach to wholesale and explains that she is focused on proving her product and building her product lineup before considering wholesale. She also reflects on the mistakes and lessons she’s learned in her entrepreneurial journey. Furman shares that she anticipated making mistakes and dealt with them by prioritizing customer service and being responsive to any issues. She emphasizes the importance of designing products in collaboration with the factory and industrial designers, rather than in isolation. Furman acknowledges that there may have been opportunities to save money, but she doesn’t regret any of her decisions as each step has been a learning experience. When asked about her manufacturer, she highlights the challenges of creating a vibrating device with specific design requirements and expertise. She concludes by expressing her excitement about innovative products in the baby space.
- 00:40:00 In this section, Elina Furman discusses some innovative baby products that she loves, including the Duna stroller that converts to a car seat and a portable bottle warmer. She also mentions a shopping cart hammock called Binksy Baby and highlights the importance of supporting original products and mom entrepreneurs. When asked about a recommended business or productivity tool, Furman mentions Prodpad, a platform that helps create and test different product pages to improve conversion rates. She also admires entrepreneur Sarah Blakely for her hustle and authentic brand. Furman’s best business advice is to just start and do a few things every day to gain momentum and confidence, but to also give the business a fair shot before deciding whether to continue or move on to something else. She emphasizes the importance of consistency and not giving up too early.
- 00:45:00 In this section, Elina Furman emphasizes the importance of taking action and pivoting in order to overcome uncertainty, fear, and panic as a founder. She encourages entrepreneurs to keep moving in any direction and reminds them that action is the antidote to these challenges. The interviewer thanks Furman for her time and for sharing her entrepreneurial journey.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
What You’ll Learn
|[00:01:25] Elina’s Entrepreneurial Journey and Background|
|[00:02:23] Taking a Sabbatical and Finding Inspiration|
|[00:03:32] The Idea of Baby Massagers and Maternal Wellness|
|[00:04:19] Building an Audience with Educational Content|
|[00:05:45] Developing the Kahlmi Baby Massager|
|[00:07:12] Monetizing the Audience and Product Options|
|[00:08:40] Creating Educational and Inspirational Content|
|[00:09:43] Designing the Kahlmi Baby Massager for Babies|
|[00:10:54] Building Hype and Engagement Before Launch|
|[00:15:17] Authenticity and Honesty in Building a Community|
|[00:15:52] Introduction of Landing Page and Email Marketing|
|[00:16:11] Regulatory Compliance for Baby Product|
|[00:16:40] Manufacturing Location and Investment|
|[00:18:57] Taking the Risk as an Entrepreneur|
|[00:20:53] Marketing Strategies and Audience Targeting|
|[00:23:57] Building a Team and Working with a Partner|
|[00:26:48] Managing Expectations and Customer Feedback|
|[00:28:09] Impact of the Product on Customers|
|[00:30:00] Focus on Customer Centricity|
|[00:30:58] Fulfillment and Shipping|
|[00:00:31] Turning 50 and not wanting to seal boxes|
|[00:00:31] Not wanting to wrap packages|
|[00:00:32] Focusing on the big vision and avoiding burnout|
|[00:00:32] Committing to a sustainable business over time|
|[00:00:32] Enjoying the process and building organically|
|[00:00:33] Future vision and new products|
|[00:00:33] Exciting products in the pipeline|
|[00:00:33] Mindfulness products for parents and kids|
|[00:00:35] Distribution plans and special needs markets|
|[00:00:35] Lessons learned and mistakes made|
|[00:00:37] Customer service and dealing with tech issues.|
|[00:00:38] Designing for manufacturability and aesthetics|
|[00:00:39] Rapid Fire Segment|
Interview with Elina Furman of Kahlmi
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Doona Stroller, Binxy Baby Hammock)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Prodport)
- Another startup or business that you think is currently doing great things: (Response:)
- A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Sara Blakely – American Businesswoman)
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: “Just start”. Take small steps daily to solidify your concept, gain confidence, and achieve growth. Stay open-minded, willing to pivot if needed. Don’t give up too early and embrace the compound effect of consistent actions for long-term success)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant, and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.
And today I’m really excited to welcome Elina Furman to the show. Is the founder of a company called Kahlmi. Kahlmi is a baby wellness brand which creates baby massagers. And today I’m Few questions about her journey and strategies and tactics has used to. Thank you so much for joining today at, I really, really appreciate it.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to talk. [00:01:00]
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, um, Can you share a little bit about your backstory, um, and what motivated you to start this particular business? How did you get
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: the idea? Yeah, so I have been a longtime entrepreneur, uh, since I moved to the US as an immigrant, uh, from Kia Ukraine in 1980.
And I was, uh, seven years old. And um, and when I graduated college it was just always in my. Nature to try to come up with new business ideas and, and, and try to, so my first big experiment was becoming a published author and I worked as a published author for many years. Um, and then, uh, when I had my first child, I entered the baby industry, which I’ve been in for about 15 years now.
And, um, I learned pretty much every single player, every brand I knew, Who [00:02:00] everybody was. I consulted with a bunch of companies. I also came on as a, um, as a C M O for a few brands, uh, baby brands and I, but ultimately decided that I was gonna take a sabbatical during, right before Covid hit because I had been working kind of over time helping all the baby brands raising my babies.
It was all very, A lot. Um, and so I just wanted to take a break and then I got super bored after a year. It was just not in my nature to, um, to not work and not have a real driving mission. And I really was always passionate about products that I. Helped with maternal wellness and neonatal wellness because my son had colic.
Um, when we, when he was first born, I have two boys, but my first, he colic and we had a really hard time. So every, any product, baby product that really helped, um, [00:03:00] Soothed baby and, and the help mom during the fourth trimester was, uh, was a winner in my book because, um, mom and baby are so interconnected during those early years.
So, um, when I saw that, when I started doing baby massages, my own son, because he had anxiety as he grew older. I realized, you know, I wanted to create a product that I would have said to myself, I wish I had that when he was growing up. And I was looking back and I was thinking, you know, why didn’t anybody teach me about B baby massage?
It could have been so much. Um, help in terms of his, uh, colleague, his development, his digestion, and then also my stress levels because maternal health is really impacted by massage. As well. And I just had no concept that nobody had introduced it to me and I was just really, I really wanted to make sure that that would never happen again, and that all parents would have that vital information and a tool with which they could do massage [00:04:00] or just the education they needed to do it with their hands.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So right now with your business, I guess you, you know, you have a product that is kind of a massager for babies, but, or you’re also, to me it seems like you’re also doing some sort of. Educational, um, content that, uh, that would help, uh, parents with their babies?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Exactly. So my goal when I was prototyping, as you know, every, when you’re prototyping a product, it always takes three times as long and, you know, three times at the price that you think it’s gonna be.
So, um, while we were testing it and prototyping it, I wanted to build a. Community. So one of my spinal skills was building social communities and online, um, networks for the brands that I had worked with. And I wanted to, one, by creating a social community, I could validate whether there was in fact a need for this type of information and whether people would be interested in, um, massage content.
And what I found was that yes, [00:05:00] it was a big yes, um, people were so interested in massage. Videos, education. Uh, even though I wasn’t showing the product yet, um, I was doing demonstrations with my hands and a lot of the videos were going viral. And in a year I developed a following of, uh, 800,000 followers across, uh, uh, TikTok and Instagram and Facebook.
So I was. Yeah, so it was a really strong organic showing, uh, of followers and I knew that once I developed this following, it will be that much easier for me to introduce my products to them because Calm Me is just the first of a series of products that are going to be all targeted to helping parents massage and soothe their babies.
And then the education piece. I am working on courses and an app, um, that I’m going to be including as well in the whole business model. Um, it’s just that it’s, um, we’re developing so many different products at the same time that I am. [00:06:00] Um, yeah. It’s only so much of me to go around and, but the educational piece is super important because that’s really the goal of the company and the mission is to raise awareness around baby massage.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So to me it seems like you basically built the audience before of a very targeted audience of, you know, people who are interested in, uh, baby related information. And then in terms of, um, monetizing that audience, it could, I mean, sure you came up with the, this massager product, but it could have very well been a massage oil that
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: well.
Exactly. So, um, I, yeah, this is the colony, it’s the baby massager. But I struggled and I started thinking, you know, should I release the massage oil first? Should I release the courses first? Um, because everyone is [00:07:00] interested in different things. Um, like for instance, therapists and people who have kids who have sensory issues love the calming because it has vibrations and it’s really instantly soothing while other parents.
Might now want the tech component and they might want just the oils. So, um, yes, it’s, I think it’s just my whole thing is like build it, build a space, validate the category because there was no category, uh, with baby massage in the US market, uh, outside of baby massage oils, but not no real education around that category.
So, Um, so I feel like just, I’m just like, create it and then see what happens in terms of test out different products and see what’s really hitting.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, uh, can you share a little bit more about, so you said that you started creating content on TikTok and Instagram and Facebook. That’s where you, you build the audience.
Uh, was it really. [00:08:00] Um, educational content that you were creating, was it more of like, you know, this is the research that shows that massages, uh, you know, these are the benefits for the baby, for the massage and, and all these things, and it basically attracted all these different people. Yeah. Was that the
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: approach?
Yeah. Yeah, that was exactly the approach. Um, I feel like with social media, you can either I entertain, educate, or inspire, um, and I chose to. You know, I don’t think, I don’t know how entertaining I am, um, but I try to be. But, um, it’s more about education and inspiration. So I really, I show the baby videos of, uh, babies being massaged.
I then, um, use a lot, show a lot of studies and statistics that talks about, uh, all the research that has been done through the years about baby massage. So it’s a real big mix of just really helping people understand that this is an ancient practice. And, but it’s also very science-based. It’s also, it’s, it’s [00:09:00] east meets West now because we have a lot of, um, tools and technology that can measure, uh, children’s brains when after they’ve been massaged.
So we know that it mitigates pain receptors. We know what activities going on in their brain, so we know it’s a very effective. Um, therapy, form of therapy, preventative and also therapeutic. And it’s important to share that information and people, the more you share it, and people come from everywhere, I have people from all over the globe, um, who are just very passionate about the content.
And, um, yeah. So the most interesting thing is figuring out how to convert them, uh, once you have them. Yeah,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that’s, that’s a, that’s a very, I think that’s a really great approach that. That, that, um, a lot of the new entrepreneurs should, should approach rather than, you know, just building the product and then thinking about how I can market it.
In regards to the [00:10:00] product itself, is it really just, uh, a massager? Like is it really just you are kind of creating a, uh, a different form function for a baby, but there’s not nothing. I mean, it’s just any regular massager, but, you know, but it’s really, you created a different design and, uh, that suits a baby, baby’s body or
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: it’s a very, so yes, so.
You know, they call this the Thera gun for babies. Um, there are three levels of vibration and the key was, I really studied the vibrations that, um, that were going to be really effective, but still very gentle. So that was very important. Um, you don’t wanna use Thera gun on your baby. I’ve seen people do it and it’s just very dangerous.
Um, it’s very, Intense. So I wanted to make sure that, um, the gentle vibrations were baby safe and were at a certain cycle. So we worked really hard to make sure it wasn’t too light, too hard. Um, also the [00:11:00] edible grade silicon, um, because babies are putting this in their mouth. Because this is also becoming the first vibrating teether, um, which is very important for them because they have a lot of pain and inflammation in the gums, so they love to just put it in their mouth.
So I, all those things and, um, went into the design and consideration and, and, uh, working alongside a few therapists and PTs and OTs and pediatricians, I wanted to make sure that, Um, as a certified infant massage instructor that I became, I became that, um, that I wanted to make sure that babies would love it.
Um, these are called ACU nodes. Uh, so these are designed so you can get into the small spaces of baby’s feet and their palms. So everything was designed with the specific ana anatomical, uh, scale that babies have. So yes, while it’s not necessarily, um, You know, it doesn’t fly and it doesn’t, you know, it doesn’t have all the, it, it, it’s definitely geared and designed [00:12:00] specifically with, um, babies and children’s needs in mind.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you share a little bit about the product launch itself? So you already had this, you know, uh, this audience created, were you. You know, when you decided to create this product, were you in the process also over capturing email address already and, and just ramping up towards that launch? Were you kinda giving people previews of, you know, this is the product that I’m creating.
Can you share about a little bit about, you know, from the time where you decided to have a product and what, what steps you took, um, to, to launch it and, and what was the reception, uh, when you launched it? Yeah.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Um, so. I decided that I wanted to do the product. I drew it out. I worked with a company and they, they created the design and the CAD and everything that, um, I wanted it to look a certain way and be very premium.
And while I was doing this, um, it was a year, so I was, I started just, [00:13:00] With one video and I just had a, I bought a little Massage doll baby, and I started doing a baby massage video, and I felt ridiculous, even though I worked with all these influencers. You know, when you’re doing your first video, you’re like, nobody cares.
Nobody’s ever gonna watch it. So, um, I put it up on TikTok and, uh, you know, the first one was whatever the, after the fifth video, I started getting virality and I started saying, oh, people are really interested in that. Um, And then this was also at the time where TikTok was becoming very big and reels were becoming big on Instagram.
So before it was very hard to grow on Instagram, outside of, um, doing giveaways and other types of co-branded partnerships. But now all of a sudden, because they were competing with TikTok, Reels. If you were creating reels, you all of a sudden you start growing really fast. Um, and so pe everyone started jumping in on reels, but I wanted to also make sure that [00:14:00] people knew about that.
I was, I. Certified Info massage instructor. I was developing the first baby massager, so I kept everybody updated. I’m like, I told them about the pro, um, the process. I said, here are the drawings, here are the, what I’ve done so far. Um, people were, I. You know, a little bit like surprised because it is such a new idea for so many people.
Um, even though respiratory therapists always use vibration with babies who have coughs and colds, and they always do that, a lot of people aren’t used to the idea of massaging baby with a vibrational device. So they were just a little confused. Um, and I always assumed people would take time to really wrap their mind around something, especially if it’s new and if it’s for baby and they wanna make sure it’s safe.
Um, and so I would, um, just introduce it. I didn’t push it too hard because I, I think the most important thing is, you know, when you’re doing, building a community, it’s all about [00:15:00] authenticity. It’s all about. Uh, building loyalty and trust. And so I just wanna, I want it to be upfront that, you know, I’m not here just to make videos all the time, and which I am, and I’ll, and I help everybody and they write to me about all, and I’m like, I’m not a doctor.
Everyone thinks I’m a doctor, uh, a pediatrician. I’m like, no, I can, I, I know certain things, but not others. But I was very honest and truthful that I am coming out with all these products and I’d love for people to follow me and, um, to try them out. And so, yeah, over time I started introducing it more and more as I had more prototypes and then I would show it how I used it with the babies and um, you know, it’s really up to parents to decide whether they want to u have, use just their hands or do both, or one or the other.
For a problem website, I did launch a landing page to drive people, uh, to enter their email, uh, [00:16:00] bonus content for baby sleep massage guide, um, to encourage them to sign up for email before the launch. So I would have a nice, healthy subscriber base, um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, for a product like this. Is there, are there any, um, Any reregulate reg regulatory issues that you have to get like, uh, this, um, um, tested for safety or, you know, because, uh, you know, a product like this is of course you’re using on a baby.
So, uh, did you have to go through any such process where it had to be approved by certain, uh, authorities or, uh, regulatory bodies and so forth?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Yeah. Well, in Europe there’s certain tests for any baby product. Um, in, in the US there’s uh, we, we went through the. Toy, uh, the toy testing, which is much more rigorous, which we didn’t need to as a voluntary test because you, this isn’t classified as a toy, but I wanted to make sure that, you know, every, there were no [00:17:00] loose parts.
I wanted to make sure that if babies, you know, putting in their mouth that there’s no lead, that there’s no loose parts, that, you know, everything would comply with all the, the basic toy testing in Canada, in the US and, and Europe. So, um, yeah, we went, underwent all of that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. Uh, in terms of, uh, manufacturing, are you, is this item getting manufactured, uh, in Asia, in in the us?
Can you talk a little bit about your manufacturing processes and how much, uh, what kinda investment did you make to, to create this product, uh, to launch your business?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Um, so we are manufacturing in China because you cannot manufacture tech, any tech product. In, unfortunately in the US right now, um, it is, you know, the cost of manufacturing any tech product with silicone is just exorbitant in the US unfortunately.
But, uh, we are using, um, all our [00:18:00] factories how compliant in terms of their silicone being edible grade. And as far as investments, um, the biggest investment was the molds. Um, So the molds were about, I wanna say 60,000. Um, then you have your patents and your trademarks, and that was probably like 20,000. Um, I think all in, once I developed the website, once I had my first purchase order for the first thousand units, um, and.
Distribution in place thinking what would the big other cost, uh, pr. So probably one 50 is just a safe number, um, of all the different, you know, photography, video, branding. Um, but yeah, one 50 and I, I am self-funded, um, and I wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So that is, I mean, that is from an entrepreneurship or [00:19:00] entrepreneur perspective, that is kind of a risk, right?
Because you did not know when you launch if, if it, if that money is going to be returned. Exactly. Yeah. So that was pure risk. Like what was your thought process like, were you, I mean, you must have felt some confidence to make that investment.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: I, I mean, I struggled probably. So what’s interesting about the whole process is that, Every step I took.
I mean, in the beginning I was just like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m going on this journey. I’m, I’m having this baby. And I had no idea. It’s like having a baby. You have no idea what you’re getting into. You don’t know if anyone’s gonna like it. You don’t know if anyone’s going to believe in your vision.
Um, you’re just a crazy human with all these ideas in your head, um, or on paper. And so, so, But every step I took, whether it was prototyping, whether it was deciding to drawing the design out on a piece of paper, um, and they featured my first design when I had my first [00:20:00] article out in Fast Company. Um, they featured my, my little drawing.
So, and you look back and you are like, wow, like I was so scared and nervous because, um, you know, I remember having to. Call my mom every day cuz she’s been my big supporter. And I would just be like, mom, am I crazy? What am I doing? Why am I doing this? This is such a big risk. Cuz I always had service-based businesses or I was a writer for a long time and that’s like just sweat equity, you know, you’re not really putting a lot of money on the line.
Uh, and so yeah, the idea of putting up money on the line was always scary in investing in my idea. But the more. Steps I took. I just said I was gonna take three different steps every day to just push forward, because I just felt like I was walking through quicksand and I had no momentum because I had nothing going yet.
And so over time, as the momentum build up, it just go slowly and slowly. I became more [00:21:00] and more confident. I saw parents, I talked to parents. I, you know, doing all the focus groups, doing all the um, um, Getting my advisors and my pediatricians in place and having them try, uh, the product and, and test it out.
Every single step that I took along the way made me more confident. And that might not have been the case if, if, you know, if people had said, look, look, we just, you know, nobody likes the product. Everyone’s like sending it back or something. I would’ve just said, okay, we’re just canceling the product. And then, but again, because I built out this whole platform of.
Of, um, followers. I wasn’t as particularly worried cuz I said I will be able to pivot because, you know, even if this product is not going to be, you know, um, the, you know, whole in one, then I have many other products and. Ideas that I really want to introduce, uh, [00:22:00] around the same, um, massage concept and, and space.
So, um, so that kind of was my, like my plan B. So I knew that if, if for some reason people just didn’t take to the column, which I’m so grateful that they have, um, I, I had other ideas. Yeah.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, you have to be, um, a marketer at heart. If you, I mean, if you were able to generate such a huge audience, uh, at the get, I mean, uh, you’re doing something, uh, right in terms of marketing.
What, what kind of, what kinda marketing are you doing right now to drive acquisition and, and who, who is, because I mean, I see the price point is target
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: audience. Yeah, it’s 1 49 in Canada. Yeah, it’s about 200. Um, so it’s ex, it’s expensive. Um, it’s not, it’s a premium product because having worked [00:23:00] on a, a lot of different premium baby brands, it was important for me to, you know, have something that would have really good margins, um, that would stand the test of time in terms of quality and will be multifunctional, um, which the product is.
But, um, the question was, I just totally forgot your question. Which,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: which marketing channels? Uh, yeah, which are you, are you still focus, are you still focusing completely on social media? Are you doing any paid advertisements?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Yeah. So right now, um, so organic marketing is still, always, um, Is is at the heart of everything I do.
Uh, but I have just like, we’ve only been shipping for six months total and we just launched Facebook ads and meta ads. So that’s been very recent. Um, because I wanted to make sure that the product was, cuz our first batch of thousand products is something, the battery was not where I wanted it to be. So I had, we had to make a few.
Changes. So I wanted to make sure not [00:24:00] to, not to launch it was, you know, do a soft launch, um, to see, to make sure, to get all the feedback, to make sure everything was going well. So Facebook just launched about a month ago. Then we have email. Um, so I’m working with, uh, someone who’s really great, a contractor who is, um, helping me with the emails and the flow.
And so on. I’m also doing a lot of earned media with pr, and so I’ve been able to, because part of this is building my, not only my community, but myself as a thought leader, and the first thought, you know, the. Main thought leader in the baby massage space. So I’m, instead of sitting around worrying about my sales, which I do all the time, um, you know, I’m really just focusing on what can I do to, to strengthen my social community, my subscriber base with email program, and also my, um, authority as the founder and leader of.
You know, baby massage [00:25:00] and, and wanting to, you know, and just the whole trend of baby massage. So we, I was able to get out a lot of TV shows. Um, I have a book coming out in 2024 with, um, mainstream publisher. And so I’m working on all these other things in tandem, um, with building out the product line and just, you know, testing out what’s really going to be successful.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So it seems like there’s a lot going on or you’re working on a lot of different things. What does your team look like or, um, I mean, do you have a team or, um,
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: So I, I, I had, um, I was working with contractors for a long time and I’ve always been a solopreneur type of person because, um, you know, I’ve been in certain partnerships and they’re not easy.
So I started working with a group and this, uh, group was held by my current partner, and I did say kind of partner and, and, um, he, in his, uh, he has two designers. [00:26:00] Amazon people, fulfillment and everyone who, and helps me source, create the new product. So if I say I wanna create a, you know, the new massage oil, you know, we’ll be, we’ll work together and they’ll help me find, um, The suppliers and, and then I say, this is what I need it to look like.
This is how much, how I, I want it to be all organic. So it’s really, it makes my life easier because if I had all that sourcing and logistics and operational side on me, on top of all the marketing side, uh, you know, so ultimately I wanted to have a life, so I said, I want to, I’d rather have less of my own company and, and work with someone I trust because we worked for a year and a cuz you know, one of the big things is work with your partner for a, a while before you partner up with ’em.
Because we worked for a year and a half and we had such a great re experienced relationship. We worked so well together. There was nobody, there’s no pressure. Um, everybody was [00:27:00] kind of, we’re both kind of. Um, we, we put pressure on ourselves, but we’re not, you know, I’ve had partnerships where it was just not great.
So, um, you know, you have to have the same working styles and you have to have complimentary skills, so it really helped me out. Now the team is comprised of, so my partner and all his, uh, support staff, which have been amazing in terms of helping me source, deal with logistics, fulfillment. I mean, I would not be able to figure out how to get.
You know, everything on a pallet from China to the US or it would just, it would just break me if I had to worry about that right now, you know, on top of all the marketing and product development that I do.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Did, um, since launch, uh, the traction that you had expected, like, has, has, um, has the product been able to, uh, help you get that kind of traction?
Or was it, you know, uh, did it um, uh, You know, was it, uh, beyond your [00:28:00] expectations, you know, less than your expectations.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: It was actually, it, it, it went above my expectations cuz I’m always very, you know, cynical. I always think nothing’s gonna work. And, and you know, that, um, I know I’m supposed to be manifesting and thinking everything’s gonna be amazing all the time.
And I do, I do all of that. I try to, uh, do all my affirmations, but the truth is, you know, you don’t know. So I have been very pleased with the response. And what’s, what’s most important to me, um, is. Just seeing if people loved it. So when people would, even when the first batch, there were some technical difficulties with the, with the battery as I mentioned, and people would write into me and they would say, oh my.
Call me Brooke. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without it. I can’t, you know, and I’m like, don’t worry about it. I’ll send you one like tomorrow in the mail, like no questions asked. Don’t bother sending it back. Just like I’m sending you the new one. Just because that I feedback from customers and I would get on the phone with my [00:29:00] customers and just that feedback of like, I want, I needed today or tomorrow, made me realize that the people who got the call me really loved it.
They understood. And so for me that was the biggest sigh of relief. And when therapists, for instance, when therapists would come to me and say, I’ve started using this with my clients and they, you know, it’s been so amazing with, for physical therapy, occupational therapy. And then another mom emailed me and she was, You know, I got on the phone with her, she was crying.
We were both crying because her son had a stroke at birth. Um, and. His name is Ryder and he was in therapy and he was in do every type of therapy and he still couldn’t use his right hand. So the first time he ever picked up an item with his right hand was when he went to reach for the call me. And she had saved up for it for so long, and I’m like, why didn’t you just email me?
I would’ve sent it to you because that’s another program I really wanna stress is that. You [00:30:00] know, we’re really doing big discounts for special needs. And, um, so I’m like, you should have just emailed me. I would’ve just sent it to you. And so that was, that’s one my, been my whole thing is just validate the product, be customer focused and centric.
Really focus on, you know, get on the phone with the customers, answer every email, uh, personally, and, um, really get to know what they need and their issues and how they’re using it. Um, and. And that’s been the most successful thing for me. So I just think that’s definitely gone beyond what I expected because I thought people would like the product.
I didn’t think it could have such important therapeutic benefits outside of traditional massage therapies. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: okay. That’s, that’s very interesting. Uh, good to know. Um, in terms of fulfillment and shipping, is, is that something that also your partner is helping you manage or is that something Yeah. That you, yeah.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Okay. I’m very [00:31:00] fortunate because I know I have a lot of friends who are, we have a lot of, um, support groups and I have a lot of women e-commerce group owners, and they all, we talk about how they are shipping out of their basement or, you know, everyone goes through that phase. When you’re shipping outta your basement, you’re.
Ceiling boxes. I’m like, you know what, I’m turning 50. I have two older kids. I just don’t feel like I have it in me to seal any boxes. You know? Like, I mean, just be honest, like I do not wanna seal a box. I don’t wanna wrap a package, you know? Maybe if I was 25 before I had my children, I’d be like, you know, I’d have my own facility in my apartment.
Like, um, Sal, Sarah Blakely did a spanks, but I just didn’t have it in me. And, and so they do all the fulfillment, they do all the shipping. Um, yeah. And it’s just such a big relief because I really need to focus on, The big vision and really figuring, and, and when, and I’ve learned in [00:32:00] life because I have been through burnout before, is that when you try to do too much, you just end up burned out and, and not succeeding.
And, and, um, I really wanted to do it right because, you know, after a certain age, if you’re, um, older founder, you don’t have a limited, you know, it’s not like every, you’re gonna invest. And the next, I mean, some people are like that, you know, they fail fast, they go to the next thing. But I’m very much like once I commit to something, I’m all in and I just, it’s hard for me to move on all the time.
Um, and so I really wanted to commit to something that I really. See being a hu sustainable business over time, that would, I would be able to grow with and grow slowly and organically rather than, you know, raise all the money, get, get into an exit, you know, plan right away. Try ta you know, have to be accountable to investors and scale so quickly.
Um, I really just wanted to enjoy the process, um, and build organically. [00:33:00]
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: In terms of your future vision, let’s say three to five years down the road, uh, I’m assuming your, your focus really is to new products.
I know you mentioned baby oil. Are there any other products in the
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: pipeline? Yeah, we have a lot of exciting products coming out. Again, all around mindfulness, teaching mindfulness to, um, for parents, mental health, wellness for kids and families. So we have the baby massage oils that are going to be coming out.
And again, they’re very, they’re all organic. We have a instructional cards that are gonna be coming out. So if you, you know, if you don’t wanna use the column, you could use the column with the cards, but it just, some people are just very purist and they just want the instructions without necessarily the tech device.
So for them, they’ll have the cards. And, um, we have some, um, clothing coming out that’s going to help, uh, guide the massage. [00:34:00] So it’s a, it is just, you know, creating, we’re really creating a, uh, complete, uh, product collection. And then, um, we want. It’s also about distribution. We want to start distributing to through the special needs markets, cuz there’s um, many different, we don’t wanna necessarily get medical, you know, um, it’s not an f d a type of route, but I do want to make sure that.
Uh, I’m able to reach a lot of therapists and, uh, wellness practitioners who, because there’s such a emphasis now on holistic methods, and so I think more and more people are looking, going to cranial psychotherapy and, uh, baby masseuse and, you know, they’re lactation consultants and they’re all interested in this technology.
So, um, I just wanna be able to, So, uh, continue bring out products that, um, and explore different distribution channels outside of traditional, direct to consumer and outside of wholesale, because wholesale, [00:35:00] um, honestly, I’m not running to wholesale yet. I’m really trying to, um, You know, kind of prove the, uh, model, figure out my, um, my, um, product, uh, you know, breakdown.
And then once that happens and I have different products in all categories, um, I’ll, I’ll be able to start thinking about wholesale. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always lessons learned, mistakes made, failures, um, With this business, when you, since you’ve started, uh, what has been kinda like a big mistake that you’ve regretted or, you know, that’s all that you’ve learned through, uh, a failure that occurred and what did you learn?
What can other entrepreneurs, uh, learn from your mistakes? Yeah.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Um, you know, I kind of foresaw all the mistakes I was going to make as a, and I made them deliberately in a way, like I knew that the first product, the first mvp. Manipulative, viable product. Might [00:36:00] have some issues. Tech, tech issues, any tech product usually does.
And so I knew that that might happen and it did, and so I dealt with it by just really doubling down on customer service, making sure everyone had a replacement unit. Um, giving people, uh, bonuses and, you know, really reaching out, making sure they knew I was there for them. And, um, also the expenses of running a business.
I mean, have I spent, um, I always try to be super lean. Um, I did spend a little more designing the product or initially because we had to then redesign it with my current group, um, because. You know, while you design a product on paper, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna be able to produce it. And so when you’re going to an agency who is go is designing your product, you have to almost be designing it with the factory together.
So that is the biggest thing I’ve learned, like don’t design in a silo. Like, um, even if you have a great design firm and everyone has ideas, [00:37:00] When it comes to actually producing that product, you really have to make sure you’re designing for manufacturability and design aesthetics and so on, and they, they’re all working together.
So I would just say, Um, do that all at the same time. Um, work with factory and, and an industrial, um, designer at the same time. And you don’t have to work with a big agency. You could work with, um, contractors or freelancers. Um, so, you know, there could have been money I’ve saved here and there. I don’t regret anything cuz I think every step of the way I learned, um, What I liked about the different things and, and who I wanted to work with.
And it led to my partnership with my current, um, partner. So I’m very happy about that. And as far as, yeah, I wouldn’t do anything differently yet. I mean, ask me in a year, I, I’m sure I’ll be making plenty of mistakes. Um, but, you know, I think it’s all part of the journey. Awesome.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: [00:38:00] By the way, when, when you went to your manufacturer, I’m sure the, the manufacturer had expertise in creating like these kinda vibrating devices.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Is that. They, they had, I’m sorry,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: expertise, expertise in creating these kinda Uh,
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: yeah. I went through a factory that had, that was familiar with creating massage. Uh, had different massage technology and, but they had to create literally, you know, all the molds were different. They had to figure out how to make the whole unit vibrate because it’s such a thin neck.
Cuz I designed this neck to be extra thin so baby can hold it. So we, it was very hard to get a motor. And the, and the right distribution of vibration through the unit. So there’s all these things that you never even think about when you’re designing a product. And then, um, as you do you realize, okay, I, you know, and wait and like, is it gonna be ergonomic for mom to hold and so on.
So, um, yeah, it’s just like we just coming up with the idea and then [00:39:00] hoping, and then playing with all the different prototypes and seeing what’s gonna really stick.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire segment. In this segment, I’m going ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a word or a sentence or so.
One book recommendation for entrepreneurs
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: and why. Yeah, lean startup. Yeah, I mean, I’ve always, I, I, I’ve read here pieces of it here and there, but I feel like I knew all of it because I’ve always, as an feel like as an immigrant, you’re always lean, you’re always saving money. Like you never want to put the course before the cart, you know?
Um, but just, it just teaches you how to, um, how to mitigate your risks and, um, stay as lean as possible for as long as possible.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Oh my gosh, there’s so many amazing products on the market that I’m excited about.
Um, well I just think like in the [00:40:00] baby space, cuz that’s where I am always. It’s um, I love the Duna. The Duna is a, um, stroller that converts to a, um, car seat because that was always a big pain point cuz I. Carrying the car seat. I was like, I’m not gonna be doing that. So having, when someone came up with that idea, I was like, of course.
That’s genius. Um, and that’s such a great idea. And then, um, some other products that I love are, um, there’s a baby warming company, um, a. Bottle warming company where they warm the bottle and it, you can, it’s portable. And so there’s, um, so many different products out on the market. And then there’s another company I used to work with, uh, called Bingy Baby, where it’s a shopping cart hammock and you put it on any shopping, uh, any grocery store cart, and.
And the baby just lies down. So it’s just, that’s just innovation. That’s a mom coming up with an idea and, you know, making millions from it. And, um, you know, I’ve been through a lot with [00:41:00] all these, uh, mom entrepreneurs and inventors and founders, and I see everything they do and how hard they work to protect their product.
And then all the copycats, I try to steal their products. Um, so I’m, you know, I just like to make sure the. Support the originals and, um, always be there and, um, and, you know, try to, as much as possible, support the original companies because, you know, when it comes to baby safety, the copycats don’t go through all the rigorous testing.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. I mean, that’s a, that’s a big issue. Uh, a business or productivity tool or software, uh, that you would recommend or a productivity tip.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Oh. Um, right now I’m using, um, a few things. So, uh, PR Port, PR port is a new, um, platform where they, they can. Create different product pages and test it to see which convert better.
So a lot of times, you know, everyone’s always like, [00:42:00] oh, we have to AB test the whole funnel. We have to, we don’t know what’s happening. We have to heat map the whole site. So what Prod Port is able to do is on the back end, they create six different versions of your product pitch. You don’t even have to do anything.
And then they test it out and they see which converts the best, and then that’s the. Page they’re serving. So I love that. Uh, I think they’re doing an amazing job and they just raised all this money so good for them.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, is that for, are you using Shopify or your e-commerce platform or, yeah, Shopify.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: They’re, they can integrate with different, um, platforms.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. Um, a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: Yeah, I think, um, everybody loves Sarah Blakely cuz she’s fun and she, I. I feel like she’s, she just hustled. She created a new category and she believed in it.
And, um, I think she’s just, and she’s just done such an amazing brand of job of, of [00:43:00] making her brand fun and accessible and authentic for women. Um, and I think that’s why she’s been around for so long, just because she has just. Such a Viv, like, just such a energy about her and, um, and uh, and a relatability.
So yeah, Sarah Blakely is definitely, the span story is very inspiring. Awesome.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs? Um,
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: um, best business advice is, um, I would just say, just start. Yeah. Always just start, because when you’re starting in a vacuum, it’s like a big black hole and there’s nothing happening and you have no wind in your back.
It’s just like there’s, you’re standing, like sitting in a pile. In, in a big hole or in the middle of water. And then like the slow, slowly as you gain momentum, if even if you do two things every day or three things or talk to three [00:44:00] people about your business, it’s just going to be, um, It’s gonna solidify as a concept one and two, it’s just gonna give you more and more confidence or information, whether it’s, I’m gonna do this business or I’m not gonna do this business.
So just start and do three things every day. And then if you see that it’s added, you know, Growing and, and really leading to something continue if it’s not a board mission and see, you know, because there’s always something else. Maybe it’s not your calling, so don’t commit, like to the point where you’re, um, blindsided by any other things, but also don’t, um, don’t leave, you know, don’t bow out too early until you’ve really given it a fair shot.
But just do it a little bit every day and, and then the compound interest will grow and you’ll see that you’re, it’s going to, something is being built even though it feels like it’s taking forever.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, that’s a great advice. I think, uh, sometimes, you know, you, you can also start with an idea which [00:45:00] does not have any traction, and then you realize that there’s a, there’s something that you can pivot to an alternate form of that
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: idea.
Yeah, you could start with that idea, then sudden pivot to something else, and you just never know what you’re gonna end up, but just keep going in any direction. Just action is the antidote. Action is the antidote or uncertainty, fear and panic, which every. Founder lives with every day.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. Well, Elina, thank you so much for your time today for sharing your story, for sharing you know, how you started and grow your business.
So, thank you again for your time and I really, appreciate you joining me today at Trep Talks.
Elina Furman of Kahlmi: It is a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much. Thank you.
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