Cassey Ho: Be the Biggest Fan of Your Idea
With nearly 4 million subscribers and close to 500 million views to her Blogilates YouTube channel, pilates and fitness instructor Cassey Ho has more viewers than any of the Top 10 cable TV shows in the United States. Yet as a solo entrepreneur, Cassey could never match a cable television production company’s capital or network to produce or promote her fitness and food tips. Yet she built her empire on the power of her ideas, her drive, and the YouTube platform, to cultivate a global community of fitness fans who “find the joy,” as she says, in exercise like she does. Here, we ask Cassey for her tips for other women seeking to build their own business and their brands.
Growing up, did you ever think you could build your own "empire" as an entrepreneur?
I always knew I wanted to leave a bigger impact on the world. When I was in middle school I started my first business selling home-baked cookies to the kids in my class. Word spread and in high school, I had 5 students working with me to expand operations across campus! That is...until the school officials caught us.
Then in college, I created an extremely popular and profitable custom corsage business for students who wanted unique high end corsages and boutonnieres for formal dances. I was always into creating and selling. It was fun for me. Seeing my customers happy was everything to me, and still is.
And did you always wish that you would be "the boss"?
I have a "boss" attitude. People used to call me cocky, conceited, and bossy at school. But honestly, if any guy acted the way I did, they would just say that he knew what he wanted. My strong personality made me well known at school but not well liked. I was never the "popular girl." So in response to your question—do I wish I were the boss? I didn't wish. I just put myself in that position.
Your attitude toward fitness instruction is to make it fun. When and how did you create this philosophy? Did you see a need in the marketplace?
I never looked at how I taught as a response to what was missing in the marketplace. I teach the same way I communicate with my friends. I smile, I tell stories, and I instruct genuinely because I want to see my students reach their potential. That's where my style comes from. It's just who I am. My philosophy: fitness should be fun and not feel like a chore because that's how you make it a sustainable and everlasting part of your lifestyle.
What advice would you give a young woman ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge, but who might be intimidated by the challenge of having, on average, less access to funding than men do?
I bootstrapped everything. Saving profits from one business and pouring it into the next was always my strategy. I never wanted to depend on anyone else for my destiny. So, if any female entrepreneur out there feels discouraged because there may be less funding—don't be. Create your own future. Grow organically and the journey to success will be so much sweeter.
Given your growth on YouTube, can you describe how digital media can help women build their businesses?
YouTube has helped me build such a strong and beautiful community of women. I started posting workout videos in 2009, thinking only to help my real life students exercise with me if I couldn't make it to the gym to teach. Little did I know that millions of people all over the world would end up following my channel for inspiration. How did I build a brand? I stuck to my personal beliefs and let my true personality shine, shine, SHINE through the videos. I never tried to be anyone else. I focused on genuinely sharing great information while building a friendship based on trust. Trust is the most valuable thing a brand can have with their customers. YouTube allowed my fans to see the person who designed their clothes, formulated their workouts, and wrote the blog posts they were reading. They got to be a part of the journey! The power of video really allows the community to get closer.
Most important, and I can’t stress it enough, you need to honestly believe in your business idea. You need to be the biggest fan of your idea. That's how you'll get through those tough nights at the office when everyone thinks you're going to fail and money's getting tight. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. But the heart has to be in it first.
The feeling of being able to build a business and a constantly growing brand from scratch is what gives me a high everyday. I live for this. The truth is, my brands, Blogilates, POP Pilates, PIIT28 and POPFLEX. exist because I was a group fitness instructor who genuinely wanted to teach. To this day, that is still what I do! This is proof that having integrity in business is part of what makes it long lasting. That trust that I've built with fans over the years has only been strengthened.
Cassey Ho is a Los Angeles-based fitness entrepreneur and the YouTube Creator behind Blogilates, the top female fitness channel on YouTube.
You can use YouTube, too, to promote your business, even if you have never made a video before:
Photos courtesy of Cassey Ho.
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