Ambitious, bubbly, and charismatic are just a few of the ABCs that describe Kimia Kalbasi in a quintessential nutshell. Born in LA, raised in OC, schooled in SB, worked in NYC, and now residing in SF, Kimia is the creative content marketing powerhouse behind Kimia’s Kravings, your ultimate go-to guide for where to eat, drink, and play in style intertwined with puns and positivity. She has been featured in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Good Morning America Digital, and Huffington Post. Throughout her career, she leveraged her personal interests and goals into her full-time livelihood and transitioned from her extensive background in tech sales to content marketing and social media by utilizing her hobbies as her creative outlet. She thrives off networking, building and cultivating relationships and long-term partnerships, and above all, mentoring others. In her personal time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, staying active through hiking, hot yoga, boxing, cooking, and exploring hidden gems playing tourist as a local wherever she goes. The quote she lives by is, “It takes 10 years to create an overnight success” and is always more than happy to share a detailed background of her roller coaster of a professional journey. You can learn more about her at KimiasKravings.com and follow along on her adventures @KimiasKravings.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
At15, I created my own e-commerce website called K. Gift Baskets and then started a nutrition blog called NutriNerd back in ’08 (#TBT OG blogger days) and started a little greeting card biz with my sister where she wrote heartwarming poems inside and I drew the artwork on the outside. I’ve always had that go-getter, entrepreneurial spirit instilled within me for as long as I can remember. Above all, in a quintessential nutshell, I loved creating and I especially loved playing by my own rules. I knew what my interests were (I also was well aware of my weaknesses), and I had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like but I didn’t know how to get there. That was the exciting part of it all. I had always loved storytelling, documenting, and sharing experiences, and opening my world to the rest of the world. When social media emerged, I was hooked. Funny enough, ever since I was a little kid, my dream job was to be a journalist. I loved being in the know and keeping up with current events. Instead of watching Nick Jr, I’d watch the news with my parents. I found it so fascinating how the journalists would tell the stories and I loved knowing what was going on locally or around the world. As I got older, I felt the pressure of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life career wise. I had embarked on a variety of internships and jobs before entering college and during college as well and I was constantly networking everywhere I went. It didn’t matter where I was, I would leverage my story and share it with whoever I met. Longest story short, after college, I took a corporate job and halfway through it, I began to freelance for an online food and travel site (which funnily happened through my networking where everything surfaced full circle but that’s a whole other story in itself). Since I was always documenting what I was up to and my adventures whether it was hanging out with friends or checking out new restaurants in the city, I was consistently uploading my experiences and this was way before “influencers” were even a thing. My interests organically aligned with today’s social media space.
One day a friend reached out to me and said, “Kimia, I’m so surprised you never started a food blog! You go to the best places to eat.” That’s when the light bulb moment happened — I rebranded my social media from my first name and last name and specialized it to be more specialized niche and I still actually have the notes in my phone where I was brainstorming quirky names to rebrand myself 0 “Hungry Heart,” “Feels for Feels,” the list goes on and on. It was actually my cousin Parisa who came up with “Kimia’s Kravings” and she told me that when I grow, the term “Kravings” will still align beyond food, and boy oh boy, was she right. My rebranding occurred 2 years ago from this time around and I can’t begin to explain the endless opportunities this journey has brought for me and as much as it has brought on, I’m extremely humbled grateful for all of the incredible, mind-blowing, indescribably experiences, endeavors, lessons, and people this has brought into my life, and so excited for what’s yet to come. It’s funny because it all started as a hobby initially and now it’s a part of my livelihood. I still pinch myself to this day and quite frankly, it never gets old.
This journey has blown my mind — this started as a fun hobby and the fact that this is my livelihood, I’m still wrapping my head around it and I couldn’t feel more grateful for the opportunities that have come with this entire experience. I had built content for the fun of it because I’ve always genuinely enjoyed it but now it’s a mix of pitching myself, getting reached out, and also working with my agent to lock in deals, sponsorships, and meaningful partnerships. Above all, I’ve learned that putting yourself out there and networking nonstop and sharing your story with others is the catalyst and comes in handy in my next story as well.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I have countless stories on stories on stories but the most profound one that comes to mind is definitely the story of how this all came to be. Longest story short — before college, I interned at a boutique PR agency in LA and one day my boss Kelley took me out to lunch with her friend Kat who at the time was writing for a major magazine and had interviewed all of the A-listers and I was simply in awe and asked her for guidance and advice (At the time I told her I wanted to be the next Giuliana Rancic). Funny enough, I recall she had mentioned wanting to get out of that scene. Fast forward to post college, I was working my first corporate job but knew I was capable of so much more and wanted to something for fun where I could express my creativity. Funny enough, I remember stumbling upon Kat’s profile only to see that she left the magazine and was writing for a food and travel outlet and was also living in SF. I decided to send her a warm reach out and outright asked her if I could also write and contribute to this food and travel site. I’ve always loved writing for as long as I could remember and who doesn’t enjoy food and traveling and all that comes with it?I had always documented wherever I was going, the places I would go to explore and eat, etc. It provided me the opportunity to connect with publicists in the food and hospitality space to visit restaurants, hotels, travel destinations, etc. By going to all of these places, that allowed me to get creative and create content! It was perfect timing with how big influencer marketing has grown within the past year. Anyway, from there, Kat connected me to the editor-in-chief at the time who’s now one of my good friends Chelsea and from there I started writing away and taking on assignments. One day, Chelsea forwarded me a press release for an assignment to work on and I noticed that the press release came from “Kelley” and I thought to myself, “Hmm I wonder if this is my boss from my very first internship..there aren’t very many Kelley’s who spell it like that,” I scrolled down and surely enough it read Founder of Melrose PR and chills came down my spine. I immediately called her and we were cracking up. I couldn’t believe how the networking came into full circle and to this day it still blows my mind.
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?
The funniest mistake was thinking initially before I started that running a business is a smooth liner operation..think again. It’s a roller coaster and you’ve got to enjoy the ride, every up and down and those upside down twirls that make it all worthwhile. The lows are low and the highs are high but regardless it’s a matter of keeping the momentum going. After all, it’s the journey that creates your unique story. I’ve learned that there is no such thing as a finish line or “making it,” it’s a matter of going no matter how tough the going gets. I’ve also learned that you learn as you go. There is no manual or guidebook. You essentially create your own path and keep following that path. Keep going, keep building those blocks of your business and above all, keep building those relationships, and keep showing up. You realize how small the world is, particularly within each niche and industry and you never know you’ll run into again so keep nurturing those relationships.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What I believe makes “Kimia’s Kravings” stand out is that I embed my positivity into everything and all that I do. I like to add a positive spin on things. I’m definitely more of an idealist/optimist. I live in my own idealistic world and with that mindset, I have created that exact world that I’ve idealized. With that said, I am relatable. I am your friend, your next door neighbor, your coworker, etc. I think people want to feel connected with what they’re consuming and want to feel empowered, enlightened, and feel good overall. I am reachable and can be that ear to listen or a helping hand when you need to be picked up. I want to shed that optimism and motivation on others. Whatever I have done and am currently doing, anyone can do. It’s a mindset. Throughout this entire journey, I’ve learned that everything starts with your mind. For instance, I’d say about a half a year from around this time, I launched an InstaStory Series Segment called, “#MotivateMeMondays” where I share insight and favorite quotes and relate them to personal experiences, dive deeper, and promote positivity for the start of the week. The idea sparked because I just want to share that anyone can do what I’m doing, and it’s not rocket science. It’s simply a matter of consistency, hard work, and optimism along the way. Notice how I said simple but not easy. We all know what to do and how to do it but it’s a matter of applying and I would love to help be that source of inspiration to push those who are in doubt or shed that extra light on those who are well on their way and need that extra dose of oomph to get the week goin 🙂
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
There are some exciting, positive-impact projects and campaigns in the works. Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Keep routing each other on. Sounds simple enough but that ounce of encouragement makes all the difference. It goes beyond female empowerment. Establishing that sense of approachability and optimism enables others to know that they can reach out to you whether it be for personal or professional guidance. Relationships are key differentiators in the workplace. When you’re immersed in a healthy, positive environment it not only helps your team thrive in the workplace but even outside of their work-life. I have mentors from past workplaces that I still keep in touch with because I felt comfortable enough to do so.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
No matter how big or small your team may be, get to know everyone on an individual basis. Particularly within a large group, it can be easy to feel like a number vs. 1 unique person so take the time to understand each personality within your team. This will not only empower your working relationship but personal one as well. After all, we’re all human and thrive from human connection. Establishing this cadence will build natural rapport and cadence and ultimately lay the foundation for effective communication.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My parents, no questions asked. They have been rooting me on since day 1 and I truly can’t emphasize the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Their endless support and encouragement has kept me going for the long run and up until this point. Beyond the fact that they have each taught me so many valuable lessons, they are the first people I call when I have great news to share, and also when I need to vent about something when I’m seeking guidance. And even if I fail, they’re always there to cheer me on, no matter what by instilling positivity and reminding me about what matters most when I feel blind-sighted by the situation at the time. They are the ones who have taught me what it is to live with a life of gratitude and have helped me shift my mindset. Inevitably there have been times of doubt but that’s when I had to rely on tapping into my own positivity. Over the past several years, I have learned to appreciate and see all the sacrifices that have been made and my goal is to repay them with success after bringing me into this world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve made sure to implement positivity in all that I do and I’m honestly here to remind the world that anyone and everyone is capable of success. Even something as simple as sharing my segment of weekly “#MotivateMeMondays” and receiving responses about how it has made someone’s day, great start to the week or the fact that it’s something they look forward to has already reassured that I’m doing my job correctly, even if it helps one individual out there, I couldn’t feel better about it and helps me keep it all going. When someone shares that a dose of positivity and motivation made their day, it makes my life and here to help inspire. I’m no different from anyone else and we are all capable, it’s a matter of applying, show up, doing, and the rest will take its course as you build that momentum. We’re all capable, it’s a matter of enabling ourselves. If I can do it, anyone who wants to can do it.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1.Never underestimate the power of consistency: No matter how tough the going gets, don’t stop. I can’t emphasize this enough. There have been countless times I wanted to drop everything I was doing and would question it. Stick to a sequence and roll it with it as long as you can. There is no such thing as overnight success. My favorite quote goes a little something like this — “It takes 10 years to create an overnight success” and it couldn’t be more accurate. Funny enough, everything that I am currently experiencing is precisely what I had wished upon 10 years ago and so much more and it’s still only the beginning.
2. Control the controllables. Can’t get upset over something you can’t control so focus on the things that you can control and give it your all. Can’t control the outcome of exterior variables whether that be people or circumstances, so all you can truly control is how you respond (notice how I didn’t say react) to your surroundings and situations. Once you engrain this into your head, your perception will change for the better. You will stress less about the little nuances and focus on what really matters.
3. Attitude is everything. Your attitude is your catalyst for how you handle situations no matter how good or bad — whatever perspective you may hold will invariably have an effect on your performance and the way you handle rejection. Of course, life happens and even when you wake up with the biggest smile on your face and by the end of the day, everything goes wrong, then how you decide to go about that circumstance is what’s the most telling Even before any difficulty happens, a person’s mindset must be able to possess a certain level of positivity and realism. Although nobody can ever have absolute control in what occurs throughout their life, the attitude and approach they choose in handling life’s obstacles is fully within control.
4. Stay resilient — You’re going to get knocked down and defeated countless times but you’re truly so much stronger than you think. It’s up to you perceive those moments of defeat in a positive light. Keep your eyes on the gold and keep going. You will keep having second thoughts or want to give up because that’s always the easier route but if you want it, you will do whatever it takes to get it.
5. Focus on your own journey — It’s so easy to get consumed by other people’s lives, especially in this day and age with social media. It’s inevitable to compare ourselves and our lives to others but people need to remember that social media is merely a facade. For me personally, it’s strictly business and what I make my livelihood from. We are all on our own path and timeline. Whether it’s with careers, relationships, finances, etc we’re all on our own course and as for everyone else, praise others as your endure on your own journey 🙂
You are a person of great influence. 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. 🙂
Pass on the positivity with a simple act of kindness. May not sound like a lot, but this is profound and impactful beyond measures. Whether it be leaving the door open for a stranger or organizing a volunteer group to pass out food to the homeless, do it because you want to help and give back. Share the abundance, there’s plenty to go around. Try it out and please report back 🙂
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It takes 10 years to create an overnight success.” For as long as I can remember, I had a clear vision of what I wanted my life to look like and have built the momentum that has lead to today. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Every step you take leads to the beautiful journey ahead and there is no finish line, you just keep going and enjoy the experiences along the way, even the hardest days. Those are the ones meant savoring the most. Attaining success doesn’t mean you’ve hit the final destination, it means what you’ve worked towards is coming to fruition and now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor to see what else you can grow in your garden.
We are 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 with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
One word, Oprah. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a private breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, coffee, or midnight snack with Oprah? I remember rushing home from school to watch her show when it was on back in the day. Her energy was simply magnetic. Oprah exudes charisma, authenticity, strength, and overall badassness. The way she carries herself so confidently in a poised manner is exactly I emulate about her. She has impacted countless lives beyond her charitable efforts but through her ease of connecting with others and I’ve always admired that about her. The term inspiration doesn’t even cut it when it comes to Oprah.