Grow and evolve as a brand, and encourage your audience to grow with you: The best way I know how to garner loyalty, build trust and gain influence is by helping people live a more fulfilling life through experiencing growth. In order to advocate for growth, you yourself must experience growth. A commitment to not embracing the status quo as a brand, or as the face of the brand, is important to remain relevant and continue to grow a deeper connection with your audience. Translating those growing moments into a resource, content or a service for your customers will ensure you build an exceptional personal brand.
As part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angie Bellemare. She has built a hugely successful lifestyle brand and business by helping women (and some men!) achieve their health & fitness goals. Over the past seven and a half years, Angie has built the largest Beachbody team in all of Canada and the 4th largest team worldwide. “Team Uproar” currently has approximately 8,500 coaches. But Angie has developed much more than a million-dollar-plus brand. She has become a successful lifestyle influencer. “Donuts, Dumbbells and Dreams” focus on helping people “dream grander and smile bigger.” Angie uses YouTube (300,000 followers) and Instagram (63,000 followers) to share content that encourages people to live their best life, both personally and professionally. Topics featured on these platforms include health and fitness, goal setting and planning, motivation, decorating, routines, work-life balance, and her extreme love of all things Disney. Angie invites her followers into her own life on these social media platforms, which has resulted in her husband Andre and her dog Carl becoming fan favorites. www.AngieBellemare.com. @AngieBellemare
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
My upbringing is far from unique. I grew up in a modest home in Ottawa, Canada. Dad was an engineer. Mom was a paralegal and owned her own business — giving me my first insight into entrepreneurship. I was a creative child and would often find myself filling time either drawing, coloring, or creating roller coaster designs on the Roller Coaster Tycoon video game.
When I was 15 years old, I met my now-husband Andre. He came from a family of business owners, so we shared that entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, we started our first business together selling imported purses and accessories out of the trunk of Andre’s car during my first year of college, where I was studying to be an architect. But my love of fashion took me in a different direction though, and we started our first fashion brand in 2009. Unfortunately, that business did not do very well, mainly because we hadn’t mastered this thing called “social media” that seemed to be taking off.
In 2013, we started the process of transitioning our fashion brand into an activewear brand. Simultaneously, I was doing a lot of soul searching as I felt we were spinning our wheels in the fashion industry. The demands of the industry were not aligned with my true passion, which was helping people feel confident. The moments of bliss in my fashion business were those where a customer would try on a piece from our collection and smile from ear to ear because of how great they felt wearing it. I honed in on that passion, and it ultimately led me to the world of fitness coaching, which translated into a full fledge multi-faceted “help you dream grander and smile bigger” brand I call “Donuts, Dumbbells and Dreams.” Our primary focus is creating content, resources, products and communities where people can feel a sense of ambition and purpose.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the moment, the mistakes I’ve made rarely feel funny. But, looking back, I can certainly see myself laughing at a couple of them, which is a lesson in itself. One that certainly stands out as a mistake is a time where I completely confused my identity and my audience simultaneously. To explain in greater detail; a big part of my brand is content creating, specifically on Instagram and YouTube. I became very invested in a handful of YouTubers who most would deem “beauty gurus.” They would create beauty tutorials and I would marvel over their talent. Being the versatile individual that I perceive myself to be, I decided that I would do a video on something completely outside my usual style. I did an “eyebrow tutorial,” which in no way aligned with my content strategy, my goals, or my identity. My husband and I were out shopping when the video went live. I remember my husband’s face when he saw a “66% approval rating” (VERY low). He was shocked. Apparently, the YouTube community was not overly receptive to my new found passion for beauty tutorials. Some of my biggest advocates were writing comments asking me to stay in my lane. My first response to this was to look in the mirror to check my eyebrows and ask my husband if there was something wrong with them! My second reaction was to take the video down and commit to never letting others sway my true purpose and identity.
The lesson I learned through this experience, besides that my eyebrows needed fixing, was that it’s so easy to get consumed by what others are doing. Don’t dilute your brand by becoming a watered-down version of your competition. As they say: “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and if you can keep your head down, stay true to yourself, and work hard at the mission you are setting out to accomplish, you will progress in a way that is both productive and fulfilling.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific book, podcast or film that truly made an impact on me. I can, however, point to an author I feel I owe a lot to — Tony Robbins. My love for Tony Robbins started when I was a little girl coming home from elementary school. My dad would play his audio tapes in the car and we would listen to them together. My dad would quiz me and ask me for my opinion on what Tony (yes, we were on a first-name basis at this point) was talking about. I learned many lessons on how to be a strong businesswoman, but also how to be a good human from Tony Robbins. I attended many of his seminars, read many of his books, and even offer his events as an incentive to my team for when they accomplish certain milestones. I believe Tony Robbins marries humanity and entrepreneurship so well, which is why he will have a continued impact on the way I operate on a day to day basis, both personally and professionally.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
First, think. Second, dream. Third, believe. And finally, dare. — Walt Disney
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
For me, a lifestyle brand indicates an entity whose messaging and strategies not only connect with a specific audience, but that also encourages a change in their values or standards. There are many examples we can point to of brands who successfully do this; Lululemon, Starbucks, Apple. But there are also individuals who have created lifestyle brands around themselves and their own personal business. That is what I have done with Angie Bellemare Fitness and Donuts, Dumbbells and Dreams. In this instance, the individual is the face of their brand, and their lifestyle (or at least portrayed lifestyle) is the one that the customer is seeking.
I perceive a lifestyle brand as being ever changing. Not one that continues to cater to the same needs and wants, but one that is constantly growing as its leadership grows. It encourages its customers to join on a path of similar growth. It caters to a certain sense of ourselves that we want to explore more, which, in my opinion, makes it tremendously different than a brand we would label a “typical brand.”
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
From a business standpoint, the benefits can be vast; from fostering loyalty to justifying a premium for your product or service. However, the benefit I most cling on to is the fact that I believe the values of a lifestyle brand can evolve with its leadership. Can this be polarizing to some? Possibly. However, as the leader of a lifestyle brand, it is so important that I can continue to create products, resources and content that relates to my true core beliefs and values. In standing by those values, my audience and customers continue to trust my brand and the standard I’ve set for myself, and them. This results in a business that not only has the potential to be fruitful, but also very fulfilling.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
There are so many amazing individuals who represent themselves and their lifestyles so well that I learn from every day. One in particular that I truly love is Lauryn Evarts brand “The Skinny Confidential.” I love it because it’s so clear to me that she’s merely being herself, posting content relating to her own values, interests and beliefs, and aligning with other brands she sincerely enjoys. The result is a multi-faceted business with multiple revenue streams and an audience of loyal customers who can relate to her personality, as well as her values and interests.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
First, create a product, service or content strategy that perfectly aligns with your true passion and what brings you joy. The messaging may cater to a niche audience, but from a personal branding standpoint, it is better to have 1,000 engaged people following your brand than having 10,000 fair-weather followers. If the face of the brand is genuinely passionate about the topics they cover, and the business they’re in, it will be easier to find co-workers, customers and communities who are equally passionate about their business.
Second, learn from the lifestyle brands you deeply admire. As Tony Robbins would say: Success leaves clues. Identify which part of their brand and/or content strategy attracted you to them, and then look to replicate those feelings and experiences in your own way. Then, commit to creating those emotions in your audience consistently.
Lastly, as your brand grows, challenge your audience to grow with your brand. When a content creator improves their way of life through growth, and they help me experience that same growth, they’ve garnered a ton of influence over me. I trust their views more than I did before, and will likely feel a sense of loyalty towards them.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Again, staying focused on the individual who wants to build their personal brand, one of the most common mistakes I see from the people I mentor is that they become an over edited version of themselves. Real and raw trumps perfectly edited every day of the week. For example, if I were building a fitness brand, I would not only share the moments where I am working out, eating healthy and feeling amazing. I would also talk about fighting to find motivation, giving in to temptation and eating pizza every now and again. The more people can feel like they’re dealing with a real person, the more they can relate. The more they can relate, the more they trust. The more they trust, the more loyal they’ll be.
To avoid making such a mistake, make sure you are being REAL. Self-assessing is one of the most vital skills for an individual seeking to build a personal lifestyle brand. From a content standpoint (which is most-often your direct line of connection with your audience), I always advise people to sometimes focus less on “creating” and focus more on “documenting.”
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
If I was starting from scratch, I would evaluate what type of business I wanted to be in, what values I wanted to elicit and what lifestyle I ultimately wanted to portray through my products and services. I would start by writing down all of the “things” I am truly passionate about, or that people consider me an expert on. I would likely use this list to identify a path that’s right for me. For example, if you’re passionate about fitness and fashion, you may decide you want to start an activewear brand, or an online consignment service focused on activewear. The core of the lifestyle you’re looking to portray will come off more authentic if you, as the individual building the business, are genuinely passionate about the space you’re in. From there, I would build a marketing strategy centered on bringing people value. Most importantly, I would genuinely focus on being my true self. Of course, the quality of your product or service is vital, but if you can be courageous and real, rather than fake and filtered, I believe you will find yourself with a loyal fan base that wants to love your product as much as you do.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1 — Start with clarity: Know specifically what emotions you’re looking to elicit through your messaging, what lifestyle you’re looking to depict and what audience you’re looking to attract. If you can’t tell me what your brand is looking to accomplish for its customer and who that customer is, you are lacking the clarity to stand out.
2 — Consistency is everything: When it comes to content, showing up consistently is half the battle. The other half is ensuring your content consistently adds value to peoples’ lives through either entertainment, education, inspiration or motivation.
3 — Building on a platform that plays to your strengths: Let’s be real, if you’re just starting out and looking to build your personal brand, you likely won’t have a staff behind you who can ensure you’re developing on every social media platform. Or if you do, great. But let’s assume you don’t. I suggest choosing one or two platforms that you are currently familiar with and that you know your potential customers/followers/fans are already using. For example, if you are not good at writing, or don’t enjoy writing, maybe starting a blog isn’t your best bet. Alternatively, you may be a really strong speaker, and have amazing energy. So, your content strategy may be centered on YouTube, or a podcast. The better you can communicate your values through visuals, spoken words or written words, the more your audience will connect with your message.
4 — You are NOT selling: You are building a community. Connecting like-minded people through your content is a more important initiative than selling through your content. Don’t get me wrong, everything’s got to be put together with your business goals in mind, but the connection to your customer will deepen if they not only feel a connection towards you, but also the other customers who follow and appreciate your brand.
5 — Grow and evolve as a brand, and encourage your audience to grow with you: The best way I know how to garner loyalty, build trust and gain influence is by helping people live a more fulfilling life through experiencing growth. In order to advocate for growth, you yourself must experience growth. A commitment to not embracing the status quo as a brand, or as the face of the brand, is important to remain relevant and continue to grow a deeper connection with your audience. Translating those growing moments into a resource, content or a service for your customers will ensure you build an exceptional personal brand.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I personally aspire for my personal brand to be a voice that helps create confidence, specifically in young women. I feel that with confidence we can chose a path for our life that legitimately makes us happy. If I could spark a movement that helps young woman live a healthier and more fulfilling life, and become confident adults, I would consider my work here meaningful.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Bob Iger, Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney Company. I’d have so many questions about the inner workings of one of the most beloved brands in the world, Disney. Plus, I’d love to hear stories about some of the behind the scenes work that goes into making Disney World such a well-oiled machine…at least from a customer standpoint.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.