How do you turn a TINY side hustle into a full-on income stream? Even more, how do you make your side hustle a multimillion-dollar business that employs dozens of people and gives you the financial freedom to do what YOU’RE passionate about? Today, we chat with Mari Llewelyn, founder of Bloom Nutrition, about her incredible journey of weight loss, financial literacy, starting a side hustle, and growing a HUGE business.

Mari’s entrepreneurial journey started long before she decided to make supplements. One day, she woke up and realized she had hit rock bottom. She was the heaviest she had ever been, had no money to her name, zero autonomy, and close-to-no willpower to pick herself back up. After growing tired of relying on her parents for money in college, she decided to get a job at the front desk of a gym.

She was making money, and things were starting to improve, but there was one big hurdle left: the weight. In this episode, Mari talks about her incredible journey to losing ninety pounds, how she started selling five-dollar workout programs for extra cash, and her explosive social media growth that allowed her to build a multimillion-dollar business before age thirty!

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Mindy:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast, my dear listeners, where we, today, are interviewing Mari Llewellyn, who went from weighing 240 pounds and not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, to losing 90 pounds and building a multimillion-dollar business. Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and joining me today is my senior producer, Kailyn Hope Bennett.

Kailyn:
Hi, Mindy. It’s so good to be here again with you.

Mindy:
I’m so excited to have you stepping into Scott’s shoes today. Today, we are talking to Mari Llewellyn and she is such a great storyteller. We’re going to hear the journey of her weight-loss story and how she parlayed that into this giant business that she stumbled onto with really no plan.

Kailyn:
I think to say Mari is a tour de force is underplaying her. She’s 29 years old, killing the game, owns a multimillion-dollar business in the supplement and fitness industry. I think that this is a great episode for any entrepreneur, anyone interested in starting a business. You’re going to hear so many good tips, tricks, nuggets from Mari about creating a successful business, utilizing the social media economy.

Mindy:
She has so much information to share. I don’t want to wait. Without further ado, let’s bring in Mari Llewellyn. Mari Llewellyn was recently named to Forbes 30 under 30 list for the business she and her husband, Greg, founded called Bloom Nutrition. Mari is also the founder of the app Strength by Mari and the host of the hit podcast, Pursuit of Wellness. Mari, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you today.

Mari:
Thank you, guys, for having me. I really appreciate it.

Mindy:
Mari, let’s start the show with a bit of your background. Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to start a nutrition company.

Mari:
How far back do we want to go? I’ll give you a brief overview. I was born in the UK and I moved around a lot as a child. My dad works for the United Nations, so I lived in the UK, Switzerland, back in the UK, New York. I went to school in Philly. I’ve lived in Colorado. Now, I live in California. I’ve been all over the map. Business was never something that I thought was for me. Particularly, I’m not strong with numbers, let’s say. I never thought that it was going to be my thing, but I am someone who’s really creative. I love sharing, I love communicating, I love branding. It’s funny how things ended up working out. I underwent a pretty dramatic fitness journey of my own, and I can go into details of that later. I ended up losing 90 pounds and completely fell in love with health and fitness and also, just optimizing my mind, my body, my life in general.
During the fitness journey, I struggled finding supplements that were for me, for a female who was new to fitness. I wanted something approachable, friendly, fun, easy to incorporate in my routine with great ingredients. I was dating my now husband, Greg, who is incredibly entrepreneurial, very numbers driven, thank goodness, and loves marketing. Together, we were the perfect pair and we put our heads together and started sampling for Bloom in 2018. We did everything ourselves. Not the formulation. We worked with a manufacturer for the formulation. The labels, the customer service, the social media, everything top to bottom was us. We really learned a ton about the business itself. Launched in January of 2019 with three pre-workout flavors. Then shortly after, released our Greens, which was our home run, and now we are known as a greens company. It’s been a pretty wild journey.

Kailyn:
Just so our audience is well aware, the Greens went completely viral. This is actually how I first as a producer learned about Mari. This is a Kailyn endorsement, this isn’t a show endorsement. I actually use the product and it’s a really great micronutrient dense powder you put in your drink every day. Mari, before we really step into the Greens and Bloom nutrition empire, I’d like to take another step back and talk about your time growing up. What was your relationship like with money in your household?

Mari:
Money wasn’t something that was spoken about particularly in my household. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the UK or if it was just my family’s values. I personally find even when I go back to the UK or Europe now, I want to talk about my career. I want to talk about my job, I want to talk about my brand. I talk about money more openly, I would say, than my family does. I knew nothing about money. I actually would say I had a little bit of a negative relationship with money overall, because I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know how to save. I didn’t know the value of money. I didn’t know what my parents’ salaries were. The only memory I have of thinking about money was when I kept running out of it in college and my dad yelling at me over and over again.
The first time I really developed my own relationship with money was when I hit rock bottom at college. That was part of my fitness journey, just having this awful, awful experience. I was unhealthy mentally and physically, and I was just sick of relying on other people for money and feeling, I don’t know. I had this very negative relationship with money, and for the first time I wanted to be able to earn it on my own and feel good about it. That’s when I got a front desk job at Orangetheory Fitness, and I wasn’t making a lot. I mean, it was a commission-based job, and I was really bad at selling the program, so I didn’t do very well. It was the first time that I got a proper paycheck and felt fully responsible and I wasn’t getting yelled at for going over my balance or whatever it may be.
Overall, I feel like I had very little education and knowledge around money. Then I had a very negative relationship with money because I kept overspending and not understanding how I was doing so. Also, not understanding how much I needed to live on a daily basis and where budgeting should come in. Now, it’s funny, because I went from there to where I am now quite quickly. My husband’s parents are very money literate. It’s something that they talk about a lot in the household. They talk about business, they talk about money. Anything that I’ve learned as an adult has been through them and through my business, but it’s still something that I’m learning. It doesn’t come to me very naturally. I hope that answered the question.

Kailyn:
I think that’s a really common thing a lot of people go through, myself included as young adults. Because financial literacy wasn’t taught in the household and it wasn’t a major theme running through our education system or even our friend circles, I think money is a really taboo thing to talk about. Sometimes it feels like you have it or you don’t and there’s a secret code in between that we’re all trying to debunk.

Mindy:
You’re starting from the same place that everybody else is.

Mari:
That’s good to hear, honestly. Because it is something that you internalize. For years, I felt a little ashamed of the lack of knowledge that I have. I had a meeting with our account managers yesterday, and a lot of the lingo and verbiage does go over my head, but I’ve gotten so much more comfortable as an adult asking questions. I’m okay with looking stupid now. I don’t care. I want to understand what’s happening. I don’t want to feel like I’m drowning in information that I don’t know. Because at the end of the day, I’m the one earning my money. I want to know where it’s going and what’s happening.

Kailyn:
Mari, really the key to your entrepreneurship journey and the success of your business was that weight loss journey. I’d really like to go in and dig into that story. What did that process look like and when did you start posting about it on social media?

Mari:
As I mentioned before in college, I was actually a semester away from graduating. I really hit the lowest point in my life. I had always struggled with mental health. My depression got way worse at college. I feel like a lot of times we go to college and we end up partying and drinking, and those things can really exasperate underlying problems. It really allowed me to see some of the demons I’d never really dealt with. Around this time, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I was put on a number of medications, antianxiety, antidepressant, antipsychotics. Just a heavy dose of medication. It had a massive impact on my body, my mind.
I felt completely checked out of reality. I was essentially in a dissociated state for a year. It led to me failing every class at school, barely being able to get out of bed, having a bad relationship with food, mistreating myself. I lost a lot of the relationships I had. It was a really detrimental time for me. I ended up moving back home with my dad, which for me was like, I was ashamed. I felt I don’t really have a job or a goal here. I don’t even have my degree right now. It was a huge reality check and this moment where I was like, the only person I have to blame here is really me and I have to take full responsibility for what’s going on. I’m not recommending anyone do this. I’m not a doctor. I came fully off all of my medication just so I could feel again.
I lost all the high, highs, I lost all the low, lows. I wanted to gain back my personality. In doing so, I got a lot more clarity on where my life was at and I wanted to get some control. My boyfriend, now husband, Greg, has been bodybuilding his whole life. He’s obsessed. It’s his passion. I decided I wanted to take my first step in being healthier. Really, for me, it was more about the mental of it all than the physical, although I was heavier than I’d ever been. I was about 245 pounds at this point. I reached out to Greg and I was like, I’m going to do this. I remember the first day of my journey, I essentially recreated his breakfast, which was all these eggs and oatmeal and blue. It was like this bodybuilder breakfast.

Kailyn:
What, like 120 grams of protein for your bodybuilder breakfast?

Mari:
Yes. Looking back, maybe I didn’t need to be eating that much. I was on the path to figuring out what worked well for me. Before that, I was eating two giant muffins, a giant iced coffee with sugar. All of these things were really triggering my pre-existing mood disorder. The sugar was elevating my blood sugar levels, the caffeine. None of those things are helpful when you already are struggling with mood. Just by swapping out my food for whole nutrient dense foods, getting in more healthy fats, that really set me up for a better base point. Then in terms of exercise, I started going on walks every day. That was really just the simple baby step that I took. Because when you go from having little to no exercise routine, I think a lot of people jump to, I need to be in the gym every single day. I need a workout plan, and they do too much. Then they end up feeling overwhelmed and backing out of it completely.
I’m a huge fan of a baby step approach, because I think it really builds your confidence. I always say you build confidence by keeping your promises every day. If you can just get out the door and go on a walk and that’s keeping your own promise, then you can get to the next level. From there, I started going to the gym just 30 minutes here and there. Even if it wasn’t the best workout, I would just make sure I got myself in there. I ended up completely falling in love with lifting weights and eating well and feeling good, and it really healed me. I think I was able to become the strong person I wanted to be and really develop a work ethic. Because I think the discipline you have in the gym really can be translated to real life as well. That had a massive impact on me, and I don’t think I’d be here right now if I didn’t go through that.

Kailyn:
I completely agree. I’ve seen that in my own fitness journey, lifting journey. I think that the discipline and the mindset you get in the gym is so translatable to every other part of your life. If you’re keeping your promises to yourself, if you’re pushing yourself, if you’re getting in there every day, you’re flexing to that last rep, you’re going up in weight or up in reps every single time. It’s just so easy to have that compound and move to other parts of your life just to keep on pushing.

Mari:
I would say 100%. I feel like it sounds cheesy, but doing that extra last rep and pushing until you can’t anymore, really going till failure. Once you go through that, you realize you can do that with absolutely everything. It’s just about that consistency and being willing to get through the pain. Fitness completely changed my life. I feel like it was during that time I got the job at Orangetheory Fitness and I ended up going back to school and getting my degree. It really showed me that I’m capable of much more than I thought. I really feel like that was the onset to my entrepreneurship journey.

Kailyn:
I’ve actually been reading this book called The Power of Discipline. Through that, they talk about why Navy SEALs are so successful. It’s because when you hit that point of failure in your body, when you’re running really hard or when you’re lifting really hard or physically or mentally fatigued, you’re actually only at 40% of your body’s full capability. What they’ve learned is when you push past that 40% is when you’re most successful and why you can keep going. What I’m hearing is that’s actually what the gym taught you. It taught you to push past that mental barrier of your body only being capable of that 40% or in my own finished journey, probably less until I started pushing past that. Mari, I’d like to go ahead and shift gears a little bit and really dive into social media since that’s such a big part of your story and your success. When did you start posting on social media about your fitness journey?

Mari:
I wasn’t an avid social media user during my journey. Also, I think because I was so just insecure with who I was, I wasn’t sharing. I didn’t post my first photo until November of 2017. I was definitely following other fitness influences, I remember, and definitely using their programs and watching what they were doing. I didn’t post my before and after until November, and I was really nervous. I had like 900 followers and they were all from college or people of my personal life, and I was so nervous about what they would think. I remember putting this post up and it exploding way more than I could have anticipated. This was the time on social media where things were organically growing and people were getting followers quite quickly. This post got a lot more attention than I expected, and it was being re-posted on much larger fitness pages, fitness pages with a ton of followers. People were re-posting it. I remember my phone just exploding, exploding, exploding.
I was like, “Oh, my gosh. What is happening?” I still remember being in my car seeing this happen. Quite quickly I had tons of DMs asking me, “What workout program did you use? What nutrition plan did you use? Tell us what you did, et cetera, et cetera.” Of course, I’d just been pretty much doing what Greg taught me or whatever plan I’d put together for myself. That was the start of our business. It happened pretty organically because people were asking me for products. I was so passionate about this thing. I felt like I had this secret sauce for happiness because I was like, “Wow, I just completely changed my life myself just through this thing.” It was hard, but I wanted to share it because I felt like so many people must be in the position I was in. That’s when we made our first ever workout plan for $5. It was a PDF workout guide. We would manually email it to people and they would PayPal us $5. It was not a sustainable business plan. I’d be on my phone all day sending the plan. That was the start of everything.

Mindy:
First of all, I love that you were on your phone emailing this to everybody. Because when you start a business and it just happens and you don’t really know what you don’t know, so you’re just doing what you know. You got the information to these people that they paid you for, and that’s ultimately the bottom line. You got what they needed, so that’s great. I’m assuming that you found another way to do this eventually because you have time to talk to us instead of just sitting there emailing 500 people.

Mari:
We took it really seriously. We were on top of our game, Greg and I. Luckily, I had Greg with me, so he was very helpful. Ultimately, we figured out how to make a website because I was like, this is not really working. Got a website, made more guides. This business was called Mari Fitness at the time. We sold a lot of these guides, way more than we anticipated. The PDF guide business back in 2017 was booming. That was the big thing to do. I still think it’s a great way to start a business because there’s no overhead. We made the PDF ourselves. We literally just went to Barnes and Noble and wrote everything out, and it’s automated. Well, it should be automated. It was perfect. We really built the capital we needed to then make a physical product.
Our first physical product was a resistance band. It was a fabric booty band, which there weren’t many of those back then. The first 900 we made, which it was difficult to find a manufacturer who would work with us because not a lot of people took us seriously. We were so young. Clearly, had no idea what we were doing. We found a manufacturer in Pakistan and made 900. We ended up hand-packing and shipping them ourselves out of my dad’s attic. I remember I wrote a note in each one. That was the start of physical products. That band did really well. We obviously ended up getting a warehouse to ship them out. All of this work was us building up capital to then start Bloom, but also just getting a lot of experience and understanding of how this was going to work.

Mindy:
Was the goal to start a nutrition company and you did that by selling these physical products just to generate the income for it, or did you always wanted to have the nutrition company and the physical products company?

Mari:
To be honest with you, there was no plan. We were making things that I wanted and that the audience wanted. I wish I could say, oh yeah, we had this big grand plan for Bloom. No, not really. We just were like, I don’t really feel like there’s any supplements that I like. I’d come home with all these supplements that were definitely marketed to men. There was a lot of caffeine in them, a lot of weird stuff going on. I just didn’t feel like anything was for me. I was like, I want to make pre-workout that I want to take. That was really how Bloom started.
It was helpful that we’d had this prior business experience and that we’d gotten, neither of us had any money, we’d just graduated college. We were generating money through the PDFs, through the bands. That is now the Strength app. Mari Fitness ultimately became the Strength app. Everything is much more evolved now. The platform is easier to use, there’s videos. Bloom sampling began in 2018. To start a supplement company, it does take a lot of money. I definitely don’t think we would’ve been able to had we not done Mari Fitness.

Mindy:
Going back to this picture that you posted on social media. I’ve seen some variation of this picture where you had your before I lost weight and my after I lost weight picture right next to each other. Why do you think people identified so much with your specific story and why do you think they were so hungry for the information that you were sharing versus somebody else’s share?

Mari:
Great question. Part of me is like, I don’t know. I’m not sure why people respond so well to that. People love before and afters, like a skin before and after or a weight loss before and after always gets a lot of attention. I’m not sure what about the photo it was. In terms of what I was sharing, I always had this very transparent approach to fitness. I feel like back then, a lot of it was very airbrushed. A lot of the people sharing had been fit for a long time. They didn’t have the same story I had. I feel like people liked the fact that I’d been in the same place that they were in.
I think when you’ve been there and things have been really dark for you and you’ve had to push through really hard times, you want to feel understood and seen. I feel like me sharing every piece of my journey, the ups, the downs. When I started sharing, I wasn’t necessarily ripped or lean. I’d lost weight, but I wasn’t anywhere near where I am now or where I have been. I was coming from this imperfect place, still on my journey, still struggling, still giving advice. I think people really resonated with the relatability of it, if that’s my guess.

Kailyn:
I think that’s 100% why it went viral. I felt like when your before and after photo came out, it was just shared everywhere. It was just such wildfire that caught. I remember looking at my search page and I kept going, there’s that blonde girl again who did a really great job on a fitness journey. Then that blonde girl turned into, there’s Mari, and she’s posting really great content. What I liked about it is that it really felt like anyone could do it. I think that, that was the catalyst of to why you had such exponential growth after posting that photo. Mari, I’d like to shift a little bit and really dig into the business side of Bloom. How did you and Greg go about delegating roles early on in the business?

Mari:
Such a good question. I feel like that has taken years to figure out. At the beginning, we were just doing it all. We definitely fell into roles based on skillset. I definitely was always more front facing. I liked sharing the story. I loved connecting with the community. I felt like I could speak well and understand what people wanted to hear or what I wanted to share. Then I also loved the label creation, the marketing design. I would always work with graphic designers and give them my vision or the way I wanted the website to look. Greg always fell more into, how much inventory do we need? How much is this going to cost? All the stuff he does, managing people, that was more his skillset as well. At the beginning, it was very much like, customer service was the biggest undertaking. We would be on the computer all day responding to people. We ended up splitting that half-and-half because it was so insane.
It is interesting looking back, trying to wrap my head around how we did it all. I don’t think we left the house for two years, to be honest. Then starting to hire as soon as we could. The first person we got was a head of customer service who’s still with us today, like four years later. She’s amazing. As the business has evolved, it’s gotten very clear who does what. Greg is the CEO of Bloom, he manages the whole team. He’s also really strong with marketing, so he’s basically our CMO as well. I was essentially our chief of brand up until recently. We’ve now hired a head of brand who’s amazing. I’m still in every creative meeting. I talk about retail displays, influencer collabs. Things have definitely changed a lot over the years, but I still remain in a pretty creative branding role, whereas Greg is still doing what he loves. For a while at the beginning, you just need to do everything.

Kailyn:
Absolutely. I think that, that is the key to being an entrepreneur and a founder. I think I read somewhere Mari that you and Greg didn’t really take a salary and you just put every penny back into the business when you were getting it going.

Mari:
We were not taking a salary at the beginning. Ever since we did the PDF guides, our mindset was we’re going to put everything back in. That was really Greg. I have to give Greg credit for that because I didn’t really understand how much money was needed. One thing Greg was really good at, at the beginning of Bloom was, okay, we’re not going to take a salary. We’re going to put this all back in and generate as much marketing as we can because we just need to get this in front of as many people as we can. We have actually been more profitable. We’ve been profitable from the beginning, I’m pretty sure, which is interesting because not many people can say that as a startup.
I think we had a unique start because we already had a very strong base of customers who had been buying from us already. When the products came out, there was this initial surge of interest and the product sold out right away upon the first launch, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger. There was a period of time where we were really figuring out, what do they want next? That’s where the Greens came in right before COVID, we did pre-workout, we did protein, we did EAAs. We’re a bit more like of a gym-focused brand, and the Greens were what really took off. We are 100% self-owned. Greg and I are the only owners of Bloom. We’re self-funded from the beginning.

Kailyn:
You’ve never taken on an investor like venture capital or anything?

Mari:
No.

Kailyn:
That’s amazing. I just want to make a note for our audience, that’s pretty rare, a company this big to have two owners that own 100% of their business.

Mari:
Thank you. I really appreciate that. It has been great because we’ve been able to move and pivot as quickly as we need to and keep the brand what we want to keep it. I mean, it has such a strong story behind it and such a strong community. It has been a wonderful journey. Definitely, a lot of pressure. That is the con of being 100% self-funded because all of our money was in Bloom. Anytime something went wrong, it was like panic mode at the beginning.

Mindy:
A moment ago, you said that you weren’t taking any salary, you were just plowing everything back into the business. Where were you generating income to live off of? Did you have outside jobs or what were you doing?

Mari:
We were still using the capital from the fitness guides. I still had a very profitable workout app business at that point. Anything we were making from the workout guides we were using for our personal needs, because that had pretty much no overhead. The guides just exited online and people were buying them and it was still a very profitable business. Then eventually, that became the app, which is also very helpful to have another business or a side business, which is why I love PDF guides, I love apps. It was still something I was really passionate about, showing my workouts every day, building more guides. That’s what we use for our personal life, but also, in a way to fund the creation of Bloom.

Mindy:
Do you still keep those two companies separate?

Mari:
Yes, we do.

Kailyn:
Mari, now that we’ve gotten into the nitty-gritty of the business side of how you funded it, I want to get into the development side, which I think is something when we talk to founders that we don’t get to really dive into enough. What was it like working with food sciences to develop your Greens powder, which is that micronutrient dense powder that has gone pretty viral, hitting Target and Walmart and so on?

Mari:
I don’t want to say easy, but to come up with products back then was easy because it was exactly what I wanted. I struggled getting in enough veggies every day. I’m like a meat gal. I’m definitely a carnivore in that way. I wanted to be getting in all my nutrients and I wanted an all-in-one supplement, one scoop that had everything I needed in there. All the nutrients, all the goodies, helped with gut health. I’ve always been obsessed with gut health. I think it affects absolutely everything. I feel like I’ve always struggled with my skin. I’ve always had various things, and it all has to do with the gut. I wanted it to be very gut-friendly, but also taste really good. Any other greens products I’d ever tried tasted like grass, garbage, whatever you want to call it. When we started sampling, we had a great manufacturer in New York.
Greg and I lived in New York, and we wanted a local manufacturer that we could go and visit. We would go, we’d have our white coats on, our white hats on and try different things. I’ve always been really obsessed with nutrition and ingredients. I had a really good idea of what I wanted in there and what I didn’t want in there. The scientists at the manufacturer were able to help me create a formula that I loved. It was the taste that was really challenging. I wanted it to taste really good, but I didn’t want to have any sugar or any weird ingredients in there. That’s what took a lot of sampling. I remember we landed on the one that I felt like tasted amazing. I took it to a vacation, Greg and I went on and I was kind of trying it out, posting my experience, and it ended up being the trip I got engaged to Greg.
We were eating a lot, drinking a lot, and I was having these greens, and I really felt so much better than I normally would because I don’t normally drink that much. I felt like my hangover was better. I felt like my bloat was better. I remember being like, this product is awesome. I feel like everyone can relate to this. As I was posting, that’s what’s so cool about social media, you really get that live feedback constantly. People were freaking out over the greens and they wanted to try it. That’s how we knew we hit a home run once we launched it. This is where the self-funded part comes in, but we had a hard time keeping enough in stock because we obviously, it’s very expensive to buy all of this product. Let’s say we had 5,000 units sold out. Now we need 10,000 units. We basically couldn’t afford to keep it in stock long enough. People got really upset with us that it was constantly sold out.

Kailyn:
I know that there were growing pains for being self-funded of selling out, but I think this was actually a masterclass in marketing because you guys framed it as, this is so viral, it keeps selling out. I think that actually helped generate the buzz around the greens and made it continue to sell out in the future.

Mari:
In hindsight, it created a lot of hype around the product because everyone was like, why does this thing keep selling out? What’s so great about it? That did help.

Mindy:
Bloom was originally tied to your personal brand. Was there a point when you realized that you couldn’t always be the face of the brand? I think this is an issue that a lot of creators start off with and then maybe have to realize it’s not sustainable for Mari to do everything.

Mari:
Such a good question. I was very much the face of the brand. It was almost like Bloom was just Mari’s supplement company, which is so crazy because now, a majority of people buying Bloom have no idea who I am, which is great. That was always the goal. We realized, I think a couple of years in where it was like, we don’t want it to be reliant on me posting in order to make a sale. That was how it was at the beginning. It was like, if we wanted to boost sales, I had to post. I had to get on Instagram and talk about it. It was very effective. I mean, we used to have crazy days of revenue back then. Now, we have much more consistent daily revenue. Back then, it was these massive spikes when we would do sales or restocks or whatever it may be, and I was the one filming the Shopify, showing the dots popping up everywhere.
It was very much coming from me. I never want Bloom, obviously, it started with my story, but I want Bloom to be for everyone. Our whole thing is being accessible, friendly, fun, approachable. There’s so many women now who represent Bloom, whether it’s a mom with a bunch of kids and wants to stay healthy, or a nurse who’s working through the night. I love this idea that we can lift up other female creators with their own version of my story, basically. Everyone has their own story. I feel like the relatability factor of Bloom only shines when it’s represented by a lot of different people and not just me. It definitely was an intentional shift. We didn’t call it Mari’s Supplement company for a reason. I pop up every now and again in the marketing, and I still love to go tell the story of Bloom and represent Bloom. I wouldn’t say anymore that I’m the only face, which is kind of crazy.

Kailyn:
Mari, I think the question on everybody’s mind now is how big is Bloom today? How many people are you managing? How are you expanding? What’s going on with you guys today?

Mari:
We have about, I want to say we have like 55 employees in office and potentially 15 more out there in the world remote. A lot of team members. We work with a lot of different people. It’s getting big. We’re in Target now. We’re in Walmart. We’re exploring other retailers at the moment. The brand has grown into its own ecosystem, I guess you could say, which is wild and really, really exciting.

Kailyn:
How does that feel emotionally for you as an entrepreneur seeing this business continue to expand?

Mari:
That’s an interesting question. I’ve been through different stages with it for a while. I’d say about two years ago, I had a little bit of a grieving period when I had to let go control. I was like, this business is my child. That’s genuinely how I felt. I had a hard time handing it off to other people, and it was really tough. I was really, really sad for a while. Now, I’m at the point where I get so much joy seeing young women. Most of our employees are under the age of 30. I mean, so many of them have stepped into their careers. They’re managing teams. One example, we had an influencer management intern come in. She was 23 years old when she arrived, and now she’s the head of the entire program. She’s 15 people under her.
We are known for our influencer program, thanks to her. It’s been incredible to watch other people step into themselves and also, just see how amazing Bloom can be. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. The podcast, I have a podcast now called Pursuit of Wellness. It has been an extension of me and my brand, but also, Bloom. Getting to sit down with experts, expand my knowledge, have great conversations, get the story out there, and also, be there to support the Bloom team when they need. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s pretty amazing.

Mindy:
What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs who are trying to utilize social media to grow their own businesses?

Mari:
My number one piece of advice is to just start. I know that sounds simple, but so many people come to me and say they have this idea and they’ve been thinking about starting a YouTube channel, and maybe they’ll post this, maybe they’ll post that. There’s never a perfect moment. You don’t have to wait for permission, just put the post up, even if it’s not perfect. I look back now on our first labels and I’m like, oh, wow. I’m shocked anyone bought that, frankly, because they were not good. I’m so happy that we took that leap and did it anyway, because it’s never going to be exactly what you want it to be right off the bat. It’s better to just get it done, start posting, start sharing, and give yourself permission. You are just as qualified as anyone else. You don’t need to have a business degree to start a business, in my opinion. You just need to be passionate and believe in your mission, so just start.

Mindy:
Perfection is the enemy of progress.

Mari:
I agree with that 100%. I feel like too many people spend time just waiting for something, for someone to tell them that they can do it.

Kailyn:
All right, Marie, before we get out of here, you actually do something really fun on your podcast where you do a rapid-fire question segment with your guests. We know we’re a business and finance podcast for the most part, but we thought it’d be really fun for our audience to have some rapid-fire health questions that you could answer for us for those who are interested in that side of things and want to get going on a health journey.

Mari:
Let’s go.

Kailyn:
Okay, Marie, the first question I have for you is, what is the best exercise to start a fitness journey with?

Mari:
I mean, there isn’t one exercise. I’d say pick up some weights.

Kailyn:
What is your favorite healthy food?

Mari:
Steak.

Mindy:
Your favorite supplement besides the ones you make at Bloom?

Mari:
That’s hard. Obviously, it’s going to be greens. Other than that, magnesium.

Kailyn:
Cold plunge, yay, or nay?

Mari:
Big yay for me. Life-changing.

Mindy:
I will let you do all the cold plunges for me. Come visit, I’ve got a pool in my backyard.

Kailyn:
The last one we have for you is what is the best advice you’ve received that’s helped you on your fitness journey?

Mari:
I think consistency is key. It’s less about having a perfect day and more about just showing up.

Mindy:
I love that.

Kailyn:
All right, Marie, well, thank you so much for your time today. We’re so grateful to have had you on the show. If our audience wants to learn a little bit more about you or your app or Bloom Nutrition, what’s the best place to do that?

Mari:
Thank you, guys, so much for having me. Great conversation. They can find me on Instagram at Marie Llewellyn, M-A-R-I, L-L-E-W-E-L-L-Y-N. They can listen to the podcast at the Pursuit of Wellness on Spotify, Apple, wherever they listen to podcasts. They can check out Bloom at www.bloomnu.com. We also sell on Amazon, and the Strength app is just the strengthapp.com, strengthappbymari.com. I think that’s it.

Mindy:
Bloomnu is bloom N-U dot com?

Mari:
Yes. Thanks for pointing that out.

Mindy:
Awesome. Marie, this was a delightful conversation. Thank you so much for your time today, and we will talk to you soon.

Mari:
Thank you, guys. Have a great day.

Mindy:
Thanks. You too. Bye-Bye. Holy cats. Kailyn, that was Mari Llewellyn and that was really flipping amazing. I love her story. I love how she is so honest. We didn’t have a plan. We were emailing these PDFs to everybody because that’s all we knew what to do. I love her honesty because really, when you start a business and you don’t really have a plan to start that business, it just happens. You do what you need to do to get it done. I love the way that she has figured it out as she goes along.

Kailyn:
I love that too. I think it just shows you that there’s no excuse. Nobody has a master plan. Nobody has a roadmap. You just have to put on your shoes and carve your own path and just try your darndest. I think the other big thing that really struck me about Mari is the fact that she owns 100% of Bloom Nutrition. What young founders can say that? That’s amazing.

Mindy:
That’s so great because she is in charge of everything. The direction, the success, the failures. Everything she’s doing. She can test it. This is working. Great, we can keep going. Or test it, oh, that didn’t work so well. Let’s pivot. She doesn’t have to answer to anybody except her partner.

Kailyn:
I think that one thing that really came across with Mari is how nimble she is within her business. That’s the power of the social media economy. You could instantly ask your consumers what they’re interested in. You can post something and instantly get a reaction and see if it’s good or bad or if you get interaction. I think that, that’s really the power of the digital age and what a lot of business owners are trying to capitalize on at this point in time. I’m so grateful we had her on the show. I think that it’s a really inspiring story for anyone and everyone and not just from a health and fitness side. Losing 90 pounds takes so much perseverance. Starting a multimillion-dollar business and having it launch in the middle of COVID and then become a US phenomenon, that’s incredible. I think that this was a great story for us to share.

Mindy:
I do too. I really appreciate her time today. Kailyn, should we get out of here?

Kailyn:
Let’s do it, Mindy.

Mindy:
That wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money podcast. She is Kailyn Hope Bennett, and I am Mindy Jensen saying, see you son, we’ve got to run.

Speaker 4:
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five-star review on Spotify or Apple. If you’re looking for even more money content, feel free to visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/biggerpocketsmoney.

Mindy:
BiggerPockets Money Was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench. Produced by Kailyn Bennett. Editing by Exodus Media. Copywriting by Nate Weintraub. Lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.

Watch the Episode Here

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In This Episode We Cover

  • Building money skills after being raised in a household where finances are “taboo” 
  • How to pick yourself up when you’ve hit “rock bottom” financially and emotionally
  • Turning your social media followers into loyal customers when you start a business
  • Starting tiny side hustles and the EASY way Mari made her first self-employed dollars
  • Paid ads, marketing your product, and the one thing that helped Mari’s business explode
  • Developing products and how to know you’ve made something that customers will love 
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in This Episode

Connect with Mari

Bloom Nutrition: https://bloomnu.com/
Instagram: @marillewellyn or https://www.instagram.com/marillewellyn/
The Pursuit of Wellness Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/pursuit-of-wellness/id1655979078
Strength by Mari: https://www.strengthbymari.com/
~~~~
Connect with Kailyn on Instagram:
@kailynhopebennett or https://www.instagram.com/kailynhopebennett/

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

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