Work It Wednesday - Melisa Vong
Melisa Vong has become an entrepreneurial force in the digital age. With multiple brands, notable features (including this one from The Globe and Mail!) and a wealth of knowledge under her belt, it's clear that every choice she's made from childhood onward were signs of a powerhouse in the making. As the CEO of Namskara - one of our favourite skincare brands to follow - her mission today is to share her journey and insights with those aspiring to build their own empires. We were fortunate enough to get the scoop on how she works it on the daily.
1. First off, tell us a little bit about you! Who is Melisa Vong?
"Who am I?" Now that's the million dollar question we all ask ourselves! I guess it all depends on who you ask. If you ask my mom, she'd tell you I'm her pride and joy. My business partners and social media friends on the other hand might think I'm some E-Commerce wizard living her best life and to my hedgehog I'd be his saviour and food dispenser. I like to think of myself as a fierce serial entrepreneur who inspires people to chase their dreams and help take their businesses to the next level through badass branding.
2. From the beauty industry to cryptocurrency, you’ve garnered an incredibly diverse skillset through your ventures. What inspired your journey into entrepreneurship? Where are you focusing your efforts right now?
For me, the hustle started young. When I was in second grade, I would take my allowance money to the flea market and purchase these "surprise bags" which usually had 4 to 5 little trinkets or toys in them for $2. I would then sell the contents in them for $1 to $2 a piece netting me a pretty profit to do it all over again or buy other inventory like chocolate bars to sell. When my parents separated, my mother had to support me and my sister on her own so at 12 years old I went out and got a door-to-door sales job for my local newspaper selling newspaper subscriptions. I wanted to help in any way that I could and watching my mom work so hard to provide for us really lit a fire under me and instilled in me a hard work ethic like no other. She is a huge inspiration for me and is also a huge health nut which is what put me on a path of creating my own botanical based skincare company. Fast forward, and now I own multiple businesses within the wellness and beauty space and also help others with launching their own brands which has become my main focus right now.
3. Being an entrepreneur in one realm alone can be enough of a balancing act. What kind of advice would you give to someone stepping foot into their own venture?
The one thing I am a total advocate for is to always be networking! Build relationships and actually care about people. You never really know who you will meet who could one day be a business partner, valuable connection, mentor, or even significant other in your life. The more resources you have, the easier it will be for you to build something from the ground up because you'll have a foundation and support system. Also, don't be afraid to seek or ask for help. There's nothing weak about leaning on others or getting help. In fact, there's strength in receiving and giving support. Especially when scaling your business, you'll need to release the need to do it all alone and bring on a team of talented people to help grow your business or brand. So if you're just starting out, find a mentor who has what you want because only they can show you how to get what you want since they've already been there and done that themselves. If you can't find a physical person or mentor, listen to podcasts, read books, and go to more networking events!
4. They say that success can only come from failure. How do you deal with idea of failure? Has your mentality towards it evolved since earning more success?
It's easier said than done, but you really have to learn how to embrace failure, and to fail fast and fail forward. Entrepreneurship doesn't have to be scary either. A lot of people think you have to go "all in" on your passion project from the get-go but that's not always the case. A lot of great things have started as a side hustle. I think the number one reason people are afraid to fail is because it could result in financial distress. If you do need to work a job for security and to build up income to start your own venture, I recommend getting a sales job. It will teach you so many valuable things about why people buy, how to sell, and also how to handle rejection because there will be a lot of that in your entrepreneurship journey.
5. Social media as a branding and selling tool has accelerated the way we do business; we can imagine that this has become a huge part of what you do. We absolutely love the aesthetic of your range of beauty products, Namskara, for instance. Any tips on how to get your brand in front of your target audience?
Thank you so much! We really do take pride in our packaging and branding - it's one of the really fun parts of starting your own brand. Social media is great because it allows you to creatively tell your story and connect with so many more people around the world with a click of a button. If you don't have a social media presence these days, you simply don't exist. I would say focus your efforts on only a few social media channels that are relevant to your ideal customer and double down on creating engaging content. Instagram is a great platform because it's basically the new business website for e-commerce brands so you want to make sure you are aware of how your page looks to potential customers/followers. You can even tag products in your photos and link them to your website for a seamless shopping experience! Aside from making sure your profile looks good at first glance and looks like a legitimate brand, try exploring other sales channels that have a lot of traffic already or do cross promotion with other brands or influencers. Amazon for example accounts for about 49% of all e-commerce sales. If you are selling online, you should also think about how you can leverage Amazon by selling on their platform. If you are an established brand, your customers are likely searching on Amazon for the types of products you sell and when 55% of online product searches start there, you really can't afford to not be on there. Yes, there are fees involved but if your margins make sense and you have a solid product it's definitely worth looking into because being on Amazon alone will generate a lot of organic traffic to your products.
6. We absolutely love to see innovative and ambitious minds taking the world by storm. Who are some of your faves to follow?
Two female entrepreneurs I follow who dominate in the e-commerce space are @iyialiu and @gretta. They started this group called Girls In Business and it's absolutely amazing! Nicole Lapin, author of Boss Bitch and Rich Bitch, is also a super authentic business babe.
7. What’s next for you?
In the short-term, I really want to travel and experience more while meeting new and interesting people I can create synergy with. I'm also working on some really exciting new projects including a podcast, YouTube series, and academy. Eventually, I want to start and fund a non-traditional school for entrepreneurs as well as a non-profit focusing on providing resources and support to those struggling with mental disorders.
8. How do you #workit every day?
I #workit everyday by starting my mornings with gratitude. There is so much to be thankful for and it's super beneficial to start your day off with positivity. On days where I'm feeling social, I like to catch up with friends or meet new ones over matcha lattes (since I don't drink coffee) and recently have been trying to go for a walk after my meals - mainly because I like to watch people walk their dogs. Most of the work I do is from home so making sure I am able to separate my work life from my home life is something I have to get creative with. I also get a lot of DMs and questions regarding branding and e-commerce so when I'm not busy sending emails or hopping on business calls, I like to try and provide value to my followers when I can by answering questions and posting valuable content. If I can help or inspire one new person a day, then to me that's a great day.
Thanks to Melisa for letting us all get to know her story and leave a little more inspired than we came. Send her some love on Instagram @melisameetsworld to keep up with her next venture!
Photos provided by Melisa Vong
Lead photo by @aminsh72
Final photo by @zachanaya