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Empowering Entrepreneurs to Authentically Market on Social Media with Jasmine Star

As an entrepreneur, the world of social media marketing can seem incredibly overwhelming. When do you post? What do you say? How do you keep up with it without it conflicting with other business tasks? The key to effective social media marketing is authenticity, honesty and accountability.

Based on the conversations I have with entrepreneurs when I encourage people to lead with giving. Which is how you earn trust, which is the currency on the web in the 21st century, is by sharing what you know.

Jasmine StarFounder of Social Curator


Empowering Entrepreneurs to Authentically Market on Social Media with Jasmine Star

Katie Hankinson (00:02): Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson.

Mickey Cloud (00:04): And I’m Mickey Cloud, and welcome to Building While Flying, a new podcast from the Sasha Group where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever-changing skies.

Katie Hankinson (00:22): Welcome to this week’s episode of Building While Flying, where our guest this week is Jasmine Star, a photographer, business strategist and the founder of Social Curator, which is a social media marketing membership for business owners, and with her great amounts of hutzpah and hustle, Jasmine empowers entrepreneurs to build brands, market on social media and create a life that they love, which I love. Welcome to the show, Jasmine.

Jasmine Star (00:49): Thank you. I’m very honored and happy to be here.

Katie Hankinson (00:53): Well, let’s dive straight in to a bit of your origin story. We were just talking about the fact that you were there in Newport Beach, California. Tell me a bit about kind of Jasmine Star, where you started out, what path you took and what brought you to where you are today as an entrepreneur yourself.

Jasmine Star (01:13): We have different iterations of where we pick up the origin story, right? Gary often refers to it as issue one of your action story, your series. I don’t know if we should start there, I kind of feel like throughout the course of the conversation, we will go back and tap in and fill in the gaps. I do know that the origin story for me coming into being a founder, which is a new title that feels like a jacket that might be a little too small, I’m trying to get in and I’m not quite sure I identify with this title, but my growth as a founder would really start for me in 2017, and really developing the strength and the courage to do that and really found my feet underneath me after attending the 4Ds. 4Ds is part of VaynerMedia. At the time, I’m coming off of building a career as a photographer, and I decided to be a photographer and I didn’t own a camera. I am a law school dropout. I’m a first generation Latina, first generation college student.

Jasmine Star (02:14): Here I am, used to the grind and used to working for everything you want and get, and had built out a really strong brand by way of education and connecting with people and creating content. It was something that I loved. And then I saw a gap in the market, and the gap in the market that I saw in early 2017, which is what I kept on hearing from business owners was three main pressure points, and it’s very common for me to hear Gary say, “You want to solve a problem. Solve a problem, you have a business.” The consistent problems that I started seeing as pattern recognition would come back down to number one, I don’t know what to say on social media, number two, I don’t have anything to post, and number three, things are changing so quickly that it feels like I have a second full-time job on social media.

Jasmine Star (03:05): The pressure points that I really wanted to step in and alleviate from small business owners was can we empower people to find things to say, can we empower them with things to post, and can we be on the cutting edge of social media marketing and empower small business owners? In May 2017, went to 4Ds with this idea on the tip of my tongue that doesn’t have a name yet. The new iteration of the business doesn’t have a name yet, and I’m like, “It’s the thing I want to do, and…” I stuttered stepped. At the 4Ds event, you have the opportunity to talk to Gary, and you could ask one question. I think I asked the world’s stupidest question. I don’t even remember what it was. I just remember had nothing to do with the business. I was so nervous, it made no sense whatsoever. We still rolled with it, and it was then that I really understood that it was time for me to get out from under leading by way of monetizing education and showcasing what it would mean to create resources in solutions.

Jasmine Star (04:01): In July 2017 we launched Social Curator. It started its first iteration as a membership. We provide 30 caption templates so that people can have a go-to fill in the blank, figure out what to say on social. We provide a gallery of images that people can pull from for their social collateral, and every month, we have a concerted effort of planning, “How are you going to market your business on social? This is your one-two shot. Read it. Do it. Let’s get it done.” Accountability. It started off as we’re providing resources, and since then, now in 2020 and moving into 2021, we have this opportunity to use tech to become anticipating needs, formulating according to industry, modification. This past year I went from really saying, “Oh, we’re a membership,” to moving into, “We’re a tech company, and we’re going to be building out a platform for our users to have resources.” Super exciting. Very nerve wracking, and when we talk about building the plane on the way down, I’m like, “I think I’m about two inches off the ground, and we’re still trying to make it work,” so we’re good. We’re really good.

Katie Hankinson (05:08): I love that everything foundationally started out with education and with a kind of drive to really figure out how to help lift others. Can you talk a bit about where that sort of started out, and where you got some of those early skills yourself in figuring out the platforms and how to educate?

Jasmine Star (05:29): I am so thankful you asked this question because I think that based on the conversations I have with entrepreneurs, when I encourage people to lead with giving, is that how you earn trust, which is the currency on the web in the 21st century, is by sharing what you know, and a lot of the trepidation early comes from, “I don’t know who I am to share this. There are other people who know more and do more. There are other people who do it better, or it’s all been said before.” This is classic, different amoeba-like changes and transformations from the imposter syndrome. Back in 2006, my husband gifted me a camera. Now, we had no money. We are literally piecing together. I had dropped out of law school. We got married on a shoestring budget. He was with a startup company.

Jasmine Star (06:16): We had no money, but he went out of his way to find a very simple camera and he gifted it to me, and he said, “Why don’t you try this for a year, and if it doesn’t work out, you can go back to law school and get your scholarships?” I got a full ride scholarship to UCLA. I was like, “Okay. This is what I’m going to do,” and what I started to do during that time was… I had no money, so I started a blog, and I just started documenting the journey, and in my unknowing… Now remember, blogging in 2006 and 2007, this was early blogging days, and to show up in your truest self and to put content out, and in a way it was freeing because nobody was reading my blog. Nobody knew it existed. Here I was, a girl who said she wanted to be a photographer without a camera, and then I just started sharing my journey.

Jasmine Star (07:01): I didn’t have money to buy gear, so I rented gear. The very first lens that I bought, I wrote a whole blog post like, “I bought this new lens,” and the worst part of this is I made up the name of a lens that actually doesn’t exist, and so I said, “I got this [inaudible 00:07:16],” and then of course nobody ever leaves comments. Nobody’s saying anything at this time, but the trolls come out, and the trolls just descended. I knew at that time I had an opportunity to cower and shrink in my shell, or to say, “Hey haters, thank you for teaching me about photography for free. Let me amend my blog post, and let me continue to create content.” What I learned early on was that the way that you built trust, both with industry peers and potential clients was to really own your story and share what you know, and that really started early on for me in 2007, and I started blogging a ton.

Jasmine Star (08:01): At the time, it was a mix of me starting a business, me learning photography, and also certain aspects of my life, things like where I went on a date, how I decorated my tree for Christmas, and lo and behold, at the height, this was around 2008, I was getting around 25,000 unique views on the blog post a day. We started creating community of people who just wanted desperately to connect on the internet, and then it kind of just sharpened my teeth to social media, and that’s when I started using social media around 2008, 2009 with Twitter.

Katie Hankinson (08:34): I think that’s such an interesting point because it really does show that in the early days, when you’re finding your voice and settling into something like that, and in your case, kind of finding a career or passion for photography, and really building your skills out there, you were experimenting and playing in one channel, which is blogging, and becoming super comfortable in that channel, and it happened to be at a time when blogs were just such a rich kind of space almost in the way that podcasting has become today, or when Gary began the kind of vlogging on Wine Library. He was sort of head of the curve then. And then just getting comfortable in that medium and building community there. You don’t have to necessarily have jumped into 1400 places in the early days, and that kind of gave you an opportunity to build your foundation as it were.

Jasmine Star (09:27): Absolutely, and this is something that I preach as well. Let’s just say that there is an entrepreneur who’s just getting started and doesn’t know where to begin. I am not an advocate to immediately jump into LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube. I really do come to advocate owning and feeling comfortable on a platform of choice, and then creating anchor content that you can then share on other social platforms. You don’t want to work harder, you want to work smarter. I still advocate for the exact process that I went through because you learn more about who you are and your voice when you can hone your focus in.

Katie Hankinson (10:05): I love that. There were you in the early days. You’ve documented your journey, built yourself into a photographer and kind of really… Obviously, that year paid off and continued on beyond the first year of just try it out.

Jasmine Star (10:19): Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Katie Hankinson (10:21): At what point did you realize there was more to kind of just documenting and that there was an opportunity to sort of shift it into something else?

Jasmine Star (10:30): In 2006. It was January 1st 2006. I had unboxed my camera. Now, I got it as a Christmas gift. December 25th, 2005, I opened the camera, but 2005 was such a hard year for me. I had dropped out of law school. My mom had a relapse of brain cancer. I didn’t know what I was doing. I really truly felt… I was 25 at the time, and my mom was 50. And I felt like I had a midlife crisis truly because I thought, “I have 25 years left in my life. I don’t want to die a lawyer,” and I was so touched by the gesture. People often laugh when I say that, but it was really my truth. I did not want to die lawyer, and so I looked at it and I said, “I can’t unbox this camera and give the power to a year that literally broke me.” It was also a year that I struggle deeply and wildly with depression.

Jasmine Star (11:19): So, January 1st, 2006, it felt like a new beginning. That is when I opened my camera, and in my mind I’m just like, “Watch out world, there’s a brown girl in town and I’m about to shoot up the city,” and I remember… I still have these photos. I still have these photos. They were actually on my very first blog. I roamed the streets of East Los Angeles, and I was taking photos of murals in East Los Angeles, and these photos are so bad. 99% of the listeners right now with their iPhone can take better photos than I was taking with a professional camera. It’s neither here nor there. I wasn’t bad. I was terrible. And you kind of had this moment of reckoning like, “Wow. I’m much better in my mind,” and to go from that to three years later being voted one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world.

Jasmine Star (12:09): There was a three year incubation period that truly proved much to the chagrin of the canon in the photo and art world, that brand supersedes talent because what happened is as a creative and as a photographer, I was selling a highly sophisticated product, a.k.a my photos to a highly uneducated audience because the consumer was not buying according to aperture or blowing out a depth of field, the consumer is buying on what? Emotion. And I was able to tap into that not by way of charm or wit or money or wittiness, I was able to tap into it by sharing who I was because consumers aren’t buying photographs as much as they’re also buying the experience with their photographer, and people aren’t buying a cake as much as they are choosing to buy from a baker on the internet who they have a relationship with.

Jasmine Star (13:03): That changed the game, and in those three years of just slogging along and then all of a sudden quickly rising to notoriety in the international market and subsequent years thereafter being voted one of the top five most influential photographers and top five most socially influential photographers. These are big awards that were coming to a girl who didn’t know what she was doing and who, quite honestly, people can search on the internet, people have a lot of opinions, she’s not that good, and I am here to say to anybody who feels or people have told you’re not that good, “You don’t need to be good. You need to be personal and vulnerable and serve your customer, and they are the people who will put you where you want to go.”

Katie Hankinson (13:41): Right, and I think what that really speaks volumes about as well is that there is something at the core of what is the Jasmine Star brand that has carried through from you building a photography business through to you being able to express and bring your message, but also educate others. Can you talk a bit about that? What is that the core of the brand? Not just you the individual, but what is at the core of your growing brand and portfolio of companies, when you think about the values but also the kind of place that you occupy in the market?

Jasmine Star (14:19): If we had a red piece of thread to tie the different iterations that the business has taken, and if we look back and we say it was built on a brand, I don’t want anybody to look or get to know me, and misconstrue that it must be Jasmine Star. I just referred to myself in third person and that is so annoying, I know. I would look back and say that there is something that people see from themselves in me, and that I somehow carry a banner that the people who walk with a limp, people who for all intents and purposes are marginalized. Perhaps they aren’t the people who get funded. Perhaps they are the people who are slated not to succeed. Perhaps they are coming from a socio-economic background or from a culture where success, male, female, non-binary, they’re overlooked and not seen.

Jasmine Star (15:13): And then when I’m able to stand on a stage, and when I’m able to build a business, not by funding, but by bootstrapping, when I’m able to stand on stages with other people who have normally marginalized people of color and I get to stand there, and people say, “It’s her. She’s not the best, and she’s not the smartest, and she’s not the most qualified, and yet she stands.” They see a bit of… I believe, the impossibilities are possibilities in disguise, and if they see somebody like you can do it, then maybe somebody like me can do it too, and that’s what I believe I stand under, and it’s not me, but a representation of people’s deepest desires to do that for themselves.

Katie Hankinson (15:49): I love that. There’s so much strength in that. I think also a sense of self being the red thread, as you just described. Is that a big part? Knowing that you are a Latina entrepreneur, there are countless disheartening stats about the fact that so many women of color or entrepreneurs of color are often given less opportunity to kind of jump into the space of entrepreneurship and grow their business. How are you sort of participating in that conversation right now?

Jasmine Star (16:22): Right now. Perhaps when you say a sense of self, perhaps I know that I not traditionally in the tech sphere. I haven’t done any fundraising. I’ve always believed, and perhaps it’s how I was grown, is a business as a business after you’ve proven what you can do, and there’s demand for it. I never believed that I could take money from somebody for something I didn’t have. It’s been highly transactionary for me. I believe I’m working quietly behind the scenes to not have to depend on somebody else’s money, but to build demand and prove the demand, so that if at some point in the future we decide to sell or not sell, that the prerogative remains entirely on my terms, and I get to show what is possible when you’re given nothing to begin with.

Katie Hankinson (17:09): Bootstrapping from the get-go. I think it’s a huge thing in some ways thinking about… I was having a conversation with another female, in this case, tech entrepreneur recently, about what 2020 has done even in the tech space because so much investment walked away that a lot of people who used to think the only way to grow a business was by getting someone to give you a big slug of cash, are having to rethink about how to scale a business, and so they’re coming round to what it is that you’ve done, which is grow organically and deliberately and intentionally and get to scale a business in a way that reflects where the markets going without necessarily just a giant leg up, and then someone also earning a big chunk of your company.

Jasmine Star (17:57): Absolutely, and I recently just a few days ago saw a stat that I don’t know if funding went away in the way that people can. And again, this is me on the outside. I’m sure that many people will snarl when they hear this. I don’t know if funding went away for all people equally because if we look at what happened with Quibi, they had raised 1.8, and total women founders were funded a total of 1.9 in the same given period. I believe that the funding still is existing, but it’s being taken from certain people and demographics in a different proportion, and I think that that’s part of the conversation, and again, I feel like I’m fully at right to say that because I’m an outsider. I have nothing to lose by saying this is just my opinion from my perspective, be it wrong or right. It’s just how I see it.

Katie Hankinson (18:46): Yeah, I think unfortunately, there’s probably a great deal of truth to that. It’s a kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul kind of thing. Let’s take a little pivot and talk, funnily enough, about the word pivot. It’s easy to talk about the success story side of the business, but it sounds like you have had to make some significant decisions along the path that you’ve taken as you’ve grown your business. Can you talk a bit about some of those moments where there have been challenges and that you have been forced to rethink how you operate?

Jasmine Star (19:23): Yeah, but there is a disclaimer: As a law school dropout… Let me just tell you, I’ll put disclaimers on disclaimers. Brené Brown is famous-

Katie Hankinson (19:35): Love her.

Jasmine Star (19:35): Who doesn’t, right? She’s like everybody’s pretend best friend. She’s my pretend best friend. One day she’s going to be my real best friend, but she refers to it as gold plated grit, the ability for us to take a situation, look back at it and tell everybody, “That was a really difficult time, but now it’s great,” and the hard part is actually talking about it when you’re going through it and you haven’t come out on the other side, and so right now, when we talk about pivoting, I am full-on owning the fact that it really does look like gold plated grit. I talk about all these instances, and people say, “That sounds so easy,” and in the middle of it, you’re like, “My back is in the gutter, and I’m staring at the stars. Where do I go?” I just want to put that out there that it sounds way more Disney-fied than it is in real life. I can look back at my professional career and professional career, very big air quotes.

Jasmine Star (20:24): I did it to start to formally come out and start a business in 2007. That’s when I filed for my DBA. So, I’m going to call that the first iteration, and the pivot that preceded that was making the declaration to not go back to law school, which for a first generation college grad, first generation post-grad, it’s a big, big, big deal in a Latino family, and yet my family fully supported it and they wanted me to be happy. But that pivot then became, “Okay. How am I going to make money? What do I actually do?” And once we kind of decided that that’s where we were going to go full force, by 2008, the business had grown to such a degree that I turned to my husband and I said, “I have to hire somebody to help me, or hey, maybe you want to join me?” And he quit his job and joined the photography business, and we were able to travel the world and do shoots and work with art directors, and it was a great experience.

Jasmine Star (21:20): We really catapulted and we started teaching other photographers, not necessarily how to become better photographers, but how to run businesses, and our names quickly traveled within the creative community, and around 2012, people started asking me, “Can I hire you for consulting? What would you do? How do you build a brand? How do you market this thing on crazy social media?” And what happened was I started creating content for business owners, period, like, “Hey, everybody does one thing: We sell. We sell different things, but we all sell, and this is how you can make selling effective on social media.” I started sharing that. By 2015, 2016, I decided to create courses, dedicated courses to the thing that I learned from people who wanted to go deep, and that was a major pivot because Taylor Swift…

Jasmine Star (22:07): I know. We’re quoting Taylor Swift and Brené Brown in the same conversation, who are we? But Taylor Swift says, “When you chase two rabbits, you lose them both,” and I started realizing that when I was taking my attention away from photography, it was doing a disservice to clients and editors, and I couldn’t fully commit to moving into this direction of building a digital business proper because you have a website, doesn’t mean you have a digital business. It means you have a business online, and I had to make the clear distinction, “I’m ready to go. I am ready to move,” and that really happened for me in 2015. It was a major pivot.

Jasmine Star (22:46): We stopped all things photography. Now when I say this, not a humble brag, but just to set the landscape. We were the 1% of the 1% in the creative community. It seemed foolish to everybody, specifically our families, who were like, “Look at her. She think she crazy.” They thought I was crazy, full on bat trash loca, and I said, “I believe in this. I believe there’s something here, and I need just to focus on this.” My husband and I put all of our attention in that, and that was truly where we understood scale in an entirely different way. It was a result as double downing on that. By 2017, we saw very clear pressure points, and that’s when we decided again to pivot. Now at this point in time, we had done in two years multiple, multiple, seven figures on digital courses, and when we decide to stop selling the digital courses, the familias came out again. [Spanish 00:23:51] all over again. I was like, “No. Trust us here.” Keep trusting.

Katie Hankinson (23:58): Well, especially because you’ve proven yourself two times already.

Jasmine Star (24:00): Oh, my God. The pivots all happened, but I do believe that… I actually had this conversation this morning, that it’s the moments that I feel truly, truly stuck, those were precedents to something that was coming and I couldn’t allow myself to believe. At the point of this recording, and I’m so happy we can get it documented, I’m going to come out and claim my truth: I feel stuck. I feel stuck. And up until this morning, I was looking at feeling stuck as a boulder that was tied across my neck instead of a kite. Feeling stuck is the thing that’s going to pull you and the reason I feel stuck is because I have to learn the language of tech.

Jasmine Star (24:46): And everything is learnable. I mustn’t cower in the face of not knowing. I must decide, “Do you choose to do tech because if you do, you better come correct. You better learn what you need to learn.” You need to understand how to navigate what it means to double down in this, because if you don’t have a vision that is bigger than your doubts, you’re going to be moored down by your worst fears.

Katie Hankinson (25:10): Talk to me a bit about what a lot of your clients right now are coming to you with? What are the challenges that you’re dealing with? Are they different this year? Are they more extreme this year when it comes to the stuckness that you’re being confronted with some of them?

Jasmine Star (25:28): Yeah. The nature of Social Curator is we are in closed enrollment. We open twice a year. At the time of this recording, we have 9600 members. The membership is $49 a month, so it’s just enough to get the education and the resources that you need, and just enough skin in the game. We have this truly scalable model. I’m not doing one-on-one at this point in time in my career because again, another pivot away from that, cutting off revenue streams that people think are what and why, and I’ve come to understand that I need to give 100% of my attention on the thing that will ultimately serve my highest self, and so what we have noticed in 2020 was that specifically people in the creative community, people like photographers, videographers, graphic designers, people who are accustomed to doing and being more out and about have taken a hit. However, what they’re doing as using this as a time of reset is that they…

Jasmine Star (26:30): Just we’ll call it for what it is. It’s easy to just pump out social content without really a strategy, without really the mechanisms, photographers, even life coaches. You can put out things and just show up on lives and say this is what it is, but what’s the strategy behind it. They’ve been using a lot of this year to lay a foundation and have a strategy. All the time that there’s like, “I’m going to keep on. I’m going to…” Now it’s like they have the time to do it, and we’ve noticed that the buy-in and participation and the metrics of people logging in and downloading and using the content has really escalated, so I think it’s really shaping people who are truly entrepreneurs making the decision to show up in a different way.

Katie Hankinson (27:06): We have seen the exact same thing, no matter the size of business. It’s that there’s an opportunity, sometimes born out of the stress of having to literally scale back business, but it is an opportunity to pause, reflect and look within to think about what the brand stands for. What process are you sitting down with, with clients? What three things would you say to a client who’s having that moment of introspection, having to think more about what’s at the core of their brand? How do you sit down with them and talk them through that?

Jasmine Star (27:41): What we do at Social Curator isn’t agency work. We’re not looking and finding out objectives. We’re looking at a 30,000 foot view of what is the common struggles and stresses that entrepreneurs are going through at this point in time, and how do we create resources on his scalable way because then it becomes a self-study. This is we truly attract people who are going to do the work and not depend on somebody else to do it for them. We hold personal accountability as our highest user value. What we’ve done, so for example, what we’ve seen a lot of rumblings are, “Oh, TikTok, TikTok, TikTok,” and when then when Reels came, we then saw people say, “Okay, I can’t push it off any longer.” What did we see? We saw the desire, “I want to do something more in my business,” and we saw the pressure point, “I don’t know how to show up,” but then we have to ask ourselves the why. What does it mean for them to show up?

Jasmine Star (28:36): Nobody wants to do more work. Nobody wants to show up on camera. Nobody wants to point at words. Nobody wants to dance. Nobody wants to do funny… They don’t want to, but they’re willing to do it, and our objective at Social Curator’s to understand the why, and the why behind why somebody would go out of their comfort zone to do something is to number one, be confident, an industry leader and find a way to move the needle in their business. If we know the pressure point, and then we know that that desire is going to be moored by the thing that they ultimately want, our job is to create content and resources that facilitates the how to get the results.

Jasmine Star (29:17): We work in three month content creation periods, what do we anticipate? And then obviously social media is changing so much, it’s like Reels came out… The point of this recording, Reels is less than two months old. So, immediately we pivoted. We’re putting out content specifically for this, and everything we do focuses on number one, personal accountability, and then community accountability, where we have threads in our group to say, “Okay, what’s your wheel? Post a link in it, let’s see what you’re doing,” and a little bit of peer pressure in a positive way always works.

Katie Hankinson (29:47): I love that idea of the kind of the cohort accountability. You’ve got a kind of crowd of people who you want to prove yourself to. Yeah, I think that works extremely well. Are there any other things that you would say just kind of really have helped to drive your business, or that sum you up as an entrepreneur and do you think those are good ones to have pulled?

Jasmine Star (30:08): Absolutely. When you said them, it was like truth with a capital T, specifically in the order in which you listed them. I think it’s important that when somebody hears me on a podcast, or if somebody sees me on a stage, I think it’s easy for somebody to assume that I must be extraordinarily competent, gregarious and extroverted, and I am actually the antithesis of all of those things. I am expert level introvert. I sweat profusely before stepping on a stage and I often talk myself out of the most basic decision making. However, one of the things that I would add to that would be I have the ability… Even though I am a Chatty Cathy on podcast, I do have the unique ability to keep my mouth shut the majority of the time. It’s the listening that I think really dials in on my ability to pattern recognize to pivot. I think that comes as a byproduct.

Jasmine Star (31:04): I grew up obese as a child. I didn’t learn how to read until I was 11. I was homeschooled. I was distinctly behind the curve. As a daughter of immigrants, we didn’t have money, so I found myself very strongly staying on the periphery of most situations, and at the time, I felt like it was a liability, and as an adult, it was the greatest gift that was given because very similar to the way that somebody might watch History Channel or the Animal Channel, the network would have a narrator, “And then the cheetah goes over to the gazelle.” It’s just like I spent years being like, “And then the man approaches a woman and casually touches her shoulder, and what does that mean? What does her face say? What is the group of people doing?” It’s truly a narrative in my mind that I’ve watching human behavior, and still to this day, watch… If people-watching was an Olympic sport, I would be the Michael Phelps truly.

Katie Hankinson (31:55): Well, and also I mean, if anything that not only does it mean that you understand your immediate audience, but it just gives you so much insight in terms of just how people operate in order to advise clients as well. So cool. One of the questions we ask all of our guests is to continue the theme of the building while flying metaphor, a pilot always has her checklist before she takes off, so the pre-flight checklist to make sure that if anything was to happen in flight, you’re kind of ready and able to adjust. What’s your pre-flight checklist?

Jasmine Star (32:35): Because I like to speak confidently about what I know, to say I had a life checklist would be wildly misleading. I could speak confidently about my daily checklist. If nothing else, I casually joke that I’m a stalker’s dream. I love doing this same thing again and again and again. Systems have become so important to me and ingrained in who I am. My body, naturally, I wake up around 4:30 in the morning. I sleep anywhere from six to seven hours. That’s my body. I don’t wake up with an alarm, this is what I do, and I start my day by meditating and by praying, and by reading. Very quiet the mind. I realized that when I’m kind to my brain, my brain is kind to me, and so by 5:00 am, that’s when things are going for me. From 5:00 to 6:00 am, I’m going in, catching up on Slack and important emails, making sure nothing’s burning because I mean, just real talk, you always feel like something’s going to burn while I’m sleeping.

Jasmine Star (33:35): And then from 6:00 to 7:00, I work out. From 7:00 to 7:30, I’m with my daughter, feeding her, hanging out with her until 7:45. That’s when I’m hopping in the shower, getting ready for the day. I’m back on my computer at 8:15, and I plow until 6:00. This is my day, minute by minute. And the way I am as religious about starting my day with kindness is I have to respect that my husband is my business partner, and we need time to not be business partners, and we need time to be life partners and now, parents, who have the amazing blessing of adopting a baby girl in February of this year.

Jasmine Star (34:16): That’s been a big thing in our life is learning how to not just be business partners and life partners, but to be parents together, and closing the computer has been a very big part of that, and making sure that like, “That’s the work day. You’ve given a great work day. Yes, I would like to work more, but it’s been a good work day, so it’s time for us to be a family.” That level of balance has been something that really tethers us as we grow.

Katie Hankinson (34:41): Oh, that’s a wonderful combination. I think so important what you said about starting the day with quietness and kindness, and then the boundaries at the end so that you can give your energy to family. Wonderful, and huge congratulations on your daughter. That’s wonderful.

Jasmine Star (34:55): Thank you. Thank you.

Katie Hankinson (34:59): Well, thank you so much for letting me speak with you today. I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. I so appreciate chatting to you. It’s been marvelous.

Jasmine Star (35:08): It has been amazing. You’re fantastic, and your accent, we could people watch and talk all day, and I just feel smarter having this conversation. Just all day, just feel free to send me voice memos anytime you want. Thank you 1000 times over. Please send my regards to James and the entire team. I’m very thankful.

Katie Hankinson (35:31): Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do, Mickey and I spent some time unpacking some of the key takeaways that really stuck out to us.

Mickey Cloud (35:42): We liken this to the post-game show, where we break down the really extraordinary nuggets that we can all benefit from, including us here at The Sasha Group, so get ready for the Sasha Sidebar.

Mickey Cloud (35:59): Katie, I love that conversation with Jasmine. I think it was such an honest and real talk kind of conversation, and I think that’s something that we’re really striving for with this podcast is how do we share the highs and the lows of kind of people’s entrepreneurial and business building journeys, and and I think the number one thing that I kind of… When she said it, it just really kind of opened my mind or really kind of got me thinking was this idea that you don’t need to be the most talented to have a successful business, you just need to be personal, vulnerable and serve your customer. And it got me thinking like, “Is that true for digital-first businesses that are built around personalities or personal brand, or is that true across all businesses?”

Mickey Cloud (36:46): And it got me kind of thinking like, “If you make the best chocolate chip cookie, you could probably win without being personal or vulnerable or serving your customer because you’ve just got a really great chocolate chip cookie,” but if I know the company behind that chocolate chip cookie, or if I know the person who made it and I’m connected to them, and I come in through them, actually I might not care how good that chocolate chip cookie is because I’m so invested in them as a person and as a human, and I want them to win.

Mickey Cloud (37:21): Yeah, I’ll like it more because I’ve bought into to who they are, and maybe we just know so many more people now because of the internet, because the internet’s democratized content creation and the ability to connect with audiences, and all these things that we are looking for kind of the person behind the company, the person behind the brand, or we’re maybe just drawn to certain people, and if they launch a product, well then I’m drawn to them, so I’m going to at least give them the benefit of the doubt on that product. And so I wonder if is this just a byproduct of kind of a digital-first business that you need to be personal, vulnerable and serve your customer?

Katie Hankinson (38:00): I think it’s fundamental to absolutely every type of business, partly because now all businesses are digital, but I think the digital space has 100% made it possible. it’s bananas to think that you now actually truly feel that you know this person who makes chocolate chip cookies, or whatever the thing is. Previously, it was a brand and you attached to a whole load of things, values, meaning to a brand, and now you have a literal person, and in situations where it is a brand led by a personal brand.

Mickey Cloud (38:33): And she kind of talked about the difference between an actual digital business and then just a company that has a website that offers some things online, and even there’s a difference there, and do you have a truly digital kind of at your core of how you operate and what you do? The other thing that really stood out to me was she was vulnerable with you, right? She talked about how she was feeling stuck right now, and it was because she was having to learn the language of tech, and she knew she was going to be building a tech platform and a tech company, but she doesn’t quite know that world quite yet.

Mickey Cloud (39:07): And I loved her talking about, “When I’m feeling stuck, I can either choose for it to be a boulder or it can be a kite, and it’s something that’s going to pull me,” and so I think, A, I love that you got her to open up and kind of share that feeling stuck moment because that’s what we’re trying to do with these conversations is share those times where it did not go your way and how did you manage through it versus also just the hyper-growth exponential curve times.

Katie Hankinson (39:36): Yeah, I think a huge part of Jasmine’s strength is the vulnerability and the fact that she’s so candid, and I really admired how much she was happy to share that part of her journey. Yeah, and I think really it does earn trust. That’s at the core of what how she’s building her brand, and I think sharing that much of herself is something that really draws others in, they see themselves in her.

Mickey Cloud (40:05): Yeah, so I guess that’ll be our question out to the audience is just you’re feeling stuck right now, what’s going on and how you make sure it’s a kite and not a boulder. We’d love to hear because I think that’s going to help a lot of people as well.

Mickey Cloud (40:20): Thanks for joining us, gang, and for Building While Flying with The Sasha Group today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (40:32): If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune into the next episode, and if you’re so kind, please rate and review us. Plus, we love feedback, so let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on Building While Flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more.

Katie Hankinson (40:47): This podcast is produced by the team at Original Music by Fulton Street Music Group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together. 

Jasmine Star told her story authentically on social media, and people paid attention.

More than a decade ago, Jasmine Star decided to quit law school and pursue a career as a photographer. She had no idea what she was doing, but she shared the entire process on her blog and eventually her social media. People paid attention. She wasn’t sure of her abilities as a photographer, but she grew more confident with her ability to effectively market herself online. Today, Jasmine empowers entrepreneurs and businesses to do the same.

Social Curator, founded by Jasmine, is a monthly subscription service that gives businesses photos and templates to use on their social media platforms. This innovative service specializes in amplifying business creativity, sparkling conversations through social media and captivating ideal clients.

In this episode, Jasmine tells Katie all about the unique career journey that led to Social Curator. Jasmine passionately explains that it’s not necessarily about being the best at what you do, but instead, it’s about being honest about what you do. That vulnerability and openness can connect with potential clients and customers in a way that no corporate ad could ever touch. Jasmine has learned so much through her own social media. She loves sharing her knowledge with entrepreneurs who may be a bit timid about the social marketing landscape. If Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok feel like another planet to you, time to tune in!

Other in-flight topics:

  • Jasmine’s origin story
  • Her journey with photography
  • Why it doesn’t matter if you’re good at what you do or not
  • The 3 main pressure points of social media marketing
  • Managing business and marriage
  • The Taylor Swift quote you need to hear
  • Jasmine’s pre-flight checklist

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