Today’s interview is very different and very unique, and we actually had no idea it existed until I found it on Kajabi.
We had the privilege to speak with Shannon O’Brien, founder of iSugar University. She is a licensed esthetician which means she works in skin care, and she uses Kajabi to teach people how to become certified in body sugaring.
Along with her online courses, Shannon also owns a brick-and-mortar business called “Sugar Mama’s”.
To give a brief explanation, sugaring is a form of hair removal that like is like wax in substance, but is made up of sugar, lemon, and water. Unlike waxing, however, sugar is applied at room temperature so there are no heat-involved injuries. Waxing is also pretty painful while sugaring offers a much more gentle approach to hair removal, it is completely sanitary, and can be used on any part of the body.
It’s even edible. Shannon took a bite of some right in front of me and said that it tasted like candy. It’s a completely natural form of hair removal.
The closest I ever came to experiencing waxing is having my nose hairs waxed. It didn’t hurt but it was startling and I have no desire to repeat the experience.
Shannon has been in the skin care profession for over 16 years, and I asked her to take us back to the beginning and share her journey. She became an esthetician and owned her own day spa in Tahoe, California. Wanting better schools for her children, she sold the business and moved near Sacramento, California, where she started a tiny little studio doing facials. Then the recession hit. Shannon was a single mother of two small boys and times were difficult.
She was at a happy hour when someone mentioned that they, ‘were going to get sugared,’ and like most people she wondered what that was. She decided to be brave and try it out for herself and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a good experience. She knew she needed to set herself apart in the skincare world so she became certified in ‘sugaring,’ and quickly saw that clients started to come back every four weeks for their hair removal appointments.
The company that she was buying her product from asked her to be a trainer for them, so two days a week she would close her studio and teach two to four students how to body sugar. One of her technicians suggested she take her teaching online, which at first seemed a daunting task since it was a very new idea.
Sweet Turned Sour
Here is the part where Shannon ventured into lands unknown. She quickly found out how to use Wordpress, Wishlist, what a plug-in was, what a widget was, and how a drip system worked. She was comfortable around hair follicles and sugar, but learning how to use online tools and programs was foreign to her. So she pulled out her iPhone 4 and a tripod, and started recording herself teaching people how to body sugar.
She was frustrated by the technology part, so she saved some money and hired a company to do it for her. She was left with a complicated and ever-failing website with so many moving parts that she became even more frustrated. Shannon knew if she could just master the technology tools, she could get her videos up and running with ease. So she prayed for a one-stop shop where she could accomplish everything she wanted to with ease.
Her past experience with people in the technology industry was mediocre at best. Shannon explains that they would overpromise and underdeliver. She was told how great she was and what a dynamic personality she had, but then they wouldn’t return phone calls or they would put up a website that was just not well done or would constantly crash.
I asked Shannon how long she has been with Kajabi and didn’t realize that she is a founder, so she’s been with us for a few years now.
She stumbled upon Kajabi a few years ago, but at that point there was no money left in the iSugar University budget. To create some cash flow, Shannon trained a live class, saved up the money, and became a Kajabi Founder. Even though she knew it was Kajabi’s beginning, she knew that it was what she needed going forward to make her business work.
Every new product that has been launched on Kajabi has had Shannon excited and she really has grown right along with us. She mentioned that we didn’t know it until now, but she has been cheering for us every step of the way. I got goosebumps just hearing her say that. I love that she is inspiring others to teach and to change in the industry, and in turn that inspires us here at Kajabi to keep producing and creating amazing tools for people like her to use.
I am a firm believer that if everyone took what they are good at and shared it with the world, we would see enormous and momentous change. When we stop being consumers only and start producing and creating, we are apart of something bigger than ourselves.
Currently Shannon is running iSugar University on Kajabi, where she trains people all over the world the technique of body sugaring, and the sugaring companies in the industry have taken notice of Shannon and her ability to teach. They have recognized that she is consistent, that they can watch the techniques over and over again, and also get one-on-one time with Shannon.
She offers a certification program, has assembled a team of people who work with her, and they certify estheticians all over the world in body sugaring. Her training and teaching is actually becoming the industry standard, and she knows it’s due in part to the technology no longer holding her back. It’s amazing that she is changing the course of skincare by simply teaching what she is passionate about.
An example of a change that Shannon has been apart of is a transformation from individual companies competing against each other to them working together within the industry to ensure proper teaching and training techniques.
Shannon is super proud that she has done almost all of the production for the video courses herself.
I asked her to share with us some of the tricks, advice, and equipment that she uses to make her videos look so good. She uses an iPhone7 Plus, lav mics galore, pretty simple lighting, and pretty much everything Kajabi.
Regarding course development, she had plans of grandeur for multiple levels of certification and is constantly thinking of new products to offer. In all honesty, she decided to scale back on everything and be really amazing at the basic certification, because there is a skill set in being able to bring new people to the table and teach them the basics.
For the advanced information and courses she is going to start bringing on guest educators, and with her many ties into the industry, she has a great pool to choose from. Instead of Shannon trying to be all things to all people, she decided to bring in others who are stellar in their fields and put them in her courses as affiliates.
Sugar Mama’s and Sticky Situations
Shannon took me into some detail regarding her brick-and-mortar store. Sugar Mama’s is located in Folsom, California (yes, where Folsom Prison is). Shannon renovated two rooms of an old school and now has a full staff, a front desk girl, and she still does sugaring everyday.
Next door in the school they are building a brewhouse with bocce ball and a beer garden, and so she invited us to come get sugared and have a cold one the next time we are out her way.
Here is something we can all relate to: setbacks and struggles. Shannon was nice enough to share with us some of her major struggles. She explains that when she first started with Kajabi, there was a little learning curve as she became familiar with our processes and the names that we used. She also had to figure out how using leads and marketing applied to iSugarU. She had to take learn the technology and marketing worlds, digest them, and then translate it to her business model.
Shannon pointed out a really important fact: Some online marketers will try and sell you on the lie that once you put your business online all you have to do is sit back in Hawaii and let the money roll in. While taking a business online does provide freedom and financial income, it also requires hard work and a dedication to make sure that you are putting out high quality content that has value. Being persistent and being willing to learn how to do new things was the key for Shannon. The teacher had to become the student in this case.
Our goal at Kajabi is to make it as easy as possible for people to get online and to share and teach their passions with others.
Shannon uses a combination of internet marketing tools, such as social media, and teaching in-person skin care conferences to reach potential clients. Her outgoing and fun personality makes her really easy to relate to and it’s important to her that her clients know and trust her. Instagram, Facebook Live, and SnapChat are among her online tools.
So what’s next for Shannon and iSugar University? She joked that being an entrepreneur means she has about 17 things on the backburner just waiting to make their debut. Realistically though, she is focused on taking one thing at a time and do it well. She wants to continue to spread the word about her brick-and-mortar shop, and to continue to affect change and growth in her industry through her online presence.
At the end of the day Shannon’s passion is to help others grow, and she is using Kajabi and her amazing knowledge to do just that.
Her main piece of advice for anyone just starting out is to just start. She also encouraged that having valuable content to give to others is the key. Take bite-size chunks and with patience and drive, anyone can share what they know. Don’t let the fear of not knowing how to use technology stop you from taking that first step into an online business.
You can check out Shannon’s iSugar University website at www.isugaruniversity.com and to take a look at her Folsom store you can visit www.sugarmamastudios.com.
By not sharing the knowledge and passion that you have, you are doing others a disservice, because someone (or many someone’s) need to know what you know! They need to learn from your experiences and hear your story, so that they can then go and have their own story.
Kajabi is just the tool for you to change not only your own life, but the lives of those around you and the lives of people you’ve never even met.
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