Australian couple Pia Muehlenbeck and Kane Vato run a global social media empire and are the brains behind activewear and yoga mat business, SLINKII.
And while a glimpse at their social feeds gives off the impression that the pair live a carefree life of travel and luxury, there is much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye.
The pair, who recently got married, took to their YouTube channel recently to answer the questions they are most commonly asked and revealed how they grew their business into the global brand it is today.
‘I was at uni and whilst I loved studying law, I found it to be a little bit dry at times and I needed a creative outlet, so Kane helped me set up a blog,’ Pia said.
‘In my spare time I was writing a blog which was called SLINKII. I had healthy recipes and fitness routines and anything that interested me. This was not successful at all – I don’t think anyone read it – but I liked doing it.
‘Basically one day I was researching an article on the best yoga mat and I was looking into it and realised all the mats were made with PVC which is a really harmful chemical to the environment.
‘I thought that was strange as yogis are inherently eco-friendly beings and I thought it was weird that the tool they were using was harmful.’
Pia decided to have some mats manufactured from natural fibres and the pair spent all of their savings to have them made and imported.
‘We were in a one bedroom apartment and we had 300 yoga mats and we had nowhere to put them other than our front room so it was just covered,’ she said.
‘We spent all our savings and ran out of money and had no marketing budget so on the weekends we went out and we took photos.
‘So we would just take photos and put them on Instagram and I didn’t have a following at all. I had 300 or 400 followers at that point.’
Luckily, a friend who owned a yoga studio purchased 100 of the mats which gave them enough money to re-order and begin to grow the business.
During that time, Pia’s own channel began to grow and became crucial to their brand.
‘We realised Instagram could be a really good tool to market with. My personal Instagram grew really quickly and I got my first million in a year,’ she said.
‘Basically this all happened by accident because we tried to start a yoga mat company,’ Kane said, adding that they stay motivated by surrounding themselves with the right people.
‘What we do is an unusual and relatively new career so there are a lot of haters out there that are going to want to bring you down and if you listen to that it is going to get you a bit sad,’ he said.
‘Hanging out with the right people keeps you motivated!’
Both Pia and Kane quit their jobs to make it in their own venture – something they believe helped them succeed.
‘I was working as a creative director. I said to Pia “If you can make this SLINKII thing work over the next six months I will support that” so when you have that time goal you are going to hustle and make it work,’ Kane said.
‘She worked hard every day for 18 hours a day for six months straight. At that point I quit my job.’
Pia added: ‘The fact that we both had to quit our jobs – that was a big risk. Quitting that and relying on yourself means you have to hustle.
‘You have no choice other than to succeed. So to a certain extent there is a lot to be said about taking that big risk.’
Pia and Kane said that while it looks as though their lives are all about vlogging and travel, this is not the case.
Some days are vlog days where we just gallivant around and have fun but a lot of the time is spent behind the scenes and working out deals and creating content,’ Pia said.
‘Sometimes we wish we were just vlogging. But realistically how we have built our business we have to make sure we are juggling.’
Kane added: Everyone, even my mates, think we do nothing and we just spend the afternoon drinking wine. That means we are doing social media well.
‘We work 12 – 14 hours a day most days. 80 per cent of that is on SLINKII because we are building a brand. The fact we do social media too is really great and its an added bonus that drives extra traffic.’
That said, the pair are always sure to switch off by 8pm and enjoy time as a couple.
‘We are in a relationship and also business partners,’ Pia said.
‘We have a rule that we just stop at 8pm and hang out and don’t respond to emails.
We work for the whole day and we switch off and hang out and veg out watch Netflix and YouTube like everyone else.’
By Daily Mail