“Control the Controllables” With Kimia Kalbasi
Control the controllables. You can’t get upset over something you can’t control so focus on the things that you can control and give it your all. Can’t control the outcome of exterior variables whether that be people or circumstances, so all you can truly control is how you respond (notice how I didn’t say react) to your surroundings and situations. Once you ingrain this into your head, your perception will change for the better. You will stress less about the little nuances and focus on what really matters.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimia Kalbasi, the widely acclaimed Founder of Kimia’s Kravings. Kimia has been featured in the Huffington Post, Socialfly Live, ABC News, Good Morning America Digital, and PA Live. She is a notable lifestyle content creator who not only monetized her hobby and has worked with a plethora of reputable brands including but not limited to Uber, American Express, and Bombay Sapphire, but has also marketed herself as a social media strategist who consults clients succeed in the social space. She’s a busy busy bee to say the very least indeed! Between back-to-back meetings, major campaigns, endless emails, and daily events, she still manages she gets through her days with a boxing sesh or yoga to keep the momentum going with a smile on her face no matter how tough the hustle and bustle gets. Above all, her main focus is to spread and share positivity through her influence beyond what meets the eye.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
At 15, I created my own e-commerce website called K. Gift Baskets and then started a nutrition blog called NutriNerd back in ’08 (#TBT OG blogger days) and started a little greeting card biz with my sister where she wrote heartwarming poems inside and I drew the artwork on the outside. I’ve always had that go-getter, entrepreneurial spirit instilled within me for as long as I can remember. Above all, in a quinnessential nutshell, I loved creating and I especially loved playing by my own rules. I knew what my interests were (I also was well aware of my weaknesses), and I had a vision of what I wanted my life to look like but I didn’t know how to get there. That was the exciting part of it all. I had always loved storytelling, documenting, and sharing experiences, and opening my world to the rest of the world. When social media emerged, I was hooked. Funny enough, ever since I was a little kid, my dream job was to be a journalist. I loved being in the know and keeping up with current events. Instead of watching Nick Jr, I’d watch the news with my parents. I found it so fascinating how the journalists would tell the stories and I loved knowing what was going on locally or around the world. As I got older, I felt the pressure of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life career wise. I had embarked on a variety of internships and jobs before entering college and during college as well and I was constantly networking everywhere I went. It didn’t matter where I was, I would leverage my story and share it with whoever I met. Longest story short, after college, I took a corporate job and halfway through it, I began to freelance for an online food and travel site (which funnily happened through my networking where everything surfaced full circle but that’s a whole other story in itself). Since I was always documenting what I was up to and my adventures whether it was hanging out with friends or checking out new restaurants in the city, I was consistently uploading my experiences and this was way before “influencers” were even a thing. My interests organically aligned with today’s social media space. One day a friend reached out to me and said, “Kimia, I’m so surprised you never started a food blog! You go to the best places to eat.” That’s when the light bulb moment happened — I rebranded my social media from my first name and last name and specialized it to be more specialized niche and I still actually have the notes in my phone where I was brainstorming quirky names to rebrand myself 0 “Hungry Heart,” “Feels for Feels,” the list goes on and on. It was actually my cousin Parisa who came up with “Kimia’s Kravings” and she told me that when I grow, the term “Kravings” will still align beyond food, and boy oh boy, was she right. My rebranding occurred 2 years ago from this time around and I can’t begin to explain the endless opportunities this journey has brought for me and as much as it has brought on, I’m extremely humbled grateful for all of the incredible, mind-blowing, indescribably experiences, endeavors, lessons, and people this has brought into my life, and so excited for what’s yet to come. It’s funny because it all started as a hobby initially and now it’s a part of my livelihood. I still pinch myself to this day and quite frankly, it never gets old. This journey has blown my mind — this started as a fun hobby and the fact that this is my livelihood, I’m still wrapping my head around it and I couldn’t feel more grateful the opportunities that have come with this entire experience. I had built content for the fun of it because I’ve always genuinely enjoyed it but now it’s a mix of pitching myself, getting reached out, and also working with my agent to lock in deals, sponsorships, and meaningful partnerships. Above all, I’ve learned that putting yourself out there and networking nonstop and sharing your story with others is the catalyst and comes in handy in my next story as well.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
I have countless stories on stories on stories but the most profound one that comes to mind is definitely the story of how this all came to be. Longest story short — before college, I interned at a boutique PR agency in LA and one day my boss Kelley took me out to lunch with her friend Kat who at the time was writing for a major magazine and had interviewed all of the A-listers and I was simply in awe and asked her for guidance and advice (At the time I told her I wanted to be the next Giuliana Rancic). Funny enough, I recall she had mentioned wanting to get out of that scene. Fast forward to post college, I was working my first corporate job but knew I was capable of so much more and wanted to something for fun where I could express my creativity. Funny enough, I remember stumbling upon Kat’s profile only to see that she left the magazine and was writing for a food and travel outlet and was also living in SF. I decided to send her a warm reachout and outright asked her if I could also write and contribute to this food and travel site. I’ve always loved writing for as long as I could remember and who doesn’t enjoy food and traveling and all that comes with it?I had always documented wherever I was going, the places I would go to explore and eat, etc. It provided me the opportunities to connect with publicists in the food and hospitality space to visit restaurants, hotels, travel destinations, etc. By going to all of these places, that allowed me to get creative and create content! It was perfect timing with how big influencer marketing has grown within the past year. Anyway, from there, Kat connected me to the editor-in-chief at the time who’s now one of my good friends Chelsea and from there I started writing away and taking on assignments. One day, Chelsea forwarded me a press release for an assignment to work on and I noticed that the press release came from “Kelley” and I thought to myself, “Hmm I wonder if this is my boss from my very first internship..there aren’t very many Kelley’s who spell it like that,” I scrolled down and surely enough it read Founder of Melrose PR and chills came down my spine. I immediately called her and we were cracking up. I couldn’t believe how the networking came into full circle and to this day it still blows my mind.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve made sure to implement positivity in all that I do and I’m honestly here to remind the world that anyone and everyone is capable of success. Even something as simple as sharing my segment of weekly “#MotivateMeMondays” and receiving responses about how it has made someone’s day, great start to the week or the fact that it’s something they look forward to has already reassured that I’m doing my job correctly, even if it helps one individual out there, I couldn’t feel better about it and helps me keep it all going. When someone shares that a dose of positivity and motivation made their day, it makes my life and here to help inspire. I’m no different from anyone else and we are all capable, it’s a matter of applying and doing, and the rest will take its course.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
- Never underpower the power of consistency: No matter how tough the going gets, don’t stop. I can’t emphasize this enough. There have been countless times I wanted to drop everything I was doing and would question it. Stick to a sequence and roll it with it as long as you can. There is no such thing as overnight success. My favorite quote goes a little something like this — “It takes 10 years to create an overnight success” and it couldn’t be more accurate. Funny enough, everything that I am currently experiencing is precisely what I had wished upon 10 years ago and so much more and it’s still only the beginning.
- Control the controllables. Can’t get upset over something you can’t control so focus on the things that you can control and give it your all. Can’t control the outcome of exterior variables whether that be people or circumstances, so all you can truly control is how you respond (notice how I didn’t say react) to your surroundings and situations. Once you engrain this into your head, your perception will change for the better. You will stress less about the little nuances and focus on what really matters.
- Attitude is everything. Your attitude is your catalyst for how you handle situations no matter how good or bad — whatever perspective you may hold will invariably have an effect in your performance and the way you handle rejection. Of course, life happens and even when you wake up with the biggest smile on your face and by the end of the day, everything goes wrong, then how you decide to go about that circumstance is what’s the most telling Even before any difficulty happens, a person’s mindset must be able to possess a certain level of positivity and realism. Although nobody can ever have absolute control in what occurs throughout their life, the attitude and approach they choose in handling life’s obstacles is fully within control.
- Stay resilient — You’re going to get knocked down and defeated countless times but you’re truly so much stronger than you think. It’s up to you perceive those moments of defeat in a positive light. Keep your eyes on the gold and keep going. You will keep having second thoughts or want to give up because that’s always the easier route but if you want it, you will do whatever it takes to get it.
- Focus on your own journey — It’s so easy to get consumed by other people’s lives, especially in this day and age with social media. It’s inevitable to compare ourselves and our lives to others but people need to remember that social media is merely a facade. For me personally, it’s strictly business and what I make my livelihood from. We are all on our own path and timeline. Whether it’s with careers, relationships, finances, etc we’re all on our own course and as for everyone else, praise others as your endure on your own journey :)
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
My parents, no questions asked. They have been rooting me on since day 1 and I truly can’t emphasize the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Their endless support and encouragement has kept me going for the long run and up until this point. Beyond the fact that they have each taught me so many valuable lessons, they are the first people I call when I have great news, and also when I need to vent about something when I’m seeking guidance. And even if I fail, they’re always there to cheer me on, no matter what by instilling positivity and reminding me about what matters most when I feel blind-sighted by the situation at the time. Being older, I have learned to appreciate and see all the sacrifices that have been made and my goal is to repay them with success after all these years. They are the ones who have taught me what it is to live with a life of gratitude.
Can you share a story?
Growing up, I emulated my parents and their entrepreneurial tendencies — my dad had always taught me the technicalities and people skills and my mom taught me the operational aspect of life. I’m definitely a mix between the two of them — my bubbliness and charisma and ability to connect with people rooted from my dad and my initiative, sense of urgency, discipline, and expressing gratitude came from my mom. With these different dynamics, I’ve learned to create my own habits and workflow. They’re the ones who introduced The Secret to me. I’ll never forget the night I watched the documentary with them and immediately made a vision board upon finishing it. It shaped my perspective and the fact that I watched that incredible documentary with them made it a special experience. Everything on my vision board was not only created for the life I want for myself but the life I want to share with my parents. I was motivated by them because I want to make them proud as can be — it’s the least I can do for all that they’ve done and taught me these past 26 years.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m currently working on a consulting proposal to work with a restaurant group in the city that I’m thrilled to work with as I’ve been in touch with them for awhile now. It’s always super exciting to start on new projects and close upcoming client deals and watch it all come into fruition but I always make sure to cater to my current clients. You have to always keep up with building the pipeline but more importantly, you have to always maintain those key relationships while you’re closing new business so your clients want to keep working with you — time management is a major player in this game.
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) Attending events/making appearances at events, launches, campaigns, etc. — Worked on a major campaign for Coffee Meets Bagel where Kimia attended a weekend long camping trip to help stir buzz around the the new CMB initiative bringing the online experience to real life
2) Consulting clients on social strategy whether it’s for restaurants, brands, or other influencers — Sets up cadence calls with clients to help with social media revamping pertaining to content strategy, performance tracking, audience development to help her clients succeed and hit goals and metrics
3) Creating customized media kits for other influencers — Created media kits for major social media personalities such as model & actress Jessica Markowski
4) Managing social media for clients — Creating content, scheduling posts, and
5) Organizing influencer events for clients: Hosted “Sally the Robot Meets NYC” event with the CEO of Chowbotics where food and lifestyle NYC influencers had a chance to meet Sally, enjoy quick and healthy salads and mingled over wine and help spread awareness in regards to where the food industry is going with a focus on health and convenience
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
One word, Oprah. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a private breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, coffee, or midnight snack with Oprah? I remember rushing home from school to watch her show when it was on back in the day. Her energy was simply magnetic. Oprah exudes charisma, authenticity, strength, and overall badassness. The way she carries herself so confidently in a poised manner is exactly I emulate about her. She has impacted countless lives beyond her charitable efforts but through her ease of connecting with others and I’ve always admired that about her. The term inspiration doesn’t even cut it when it comes to Oprah.
Amazon millionaire, author and business coach, Akemi Sue Fisher, has helped thousands of Amazon sellers scale and grow their businesses to six, seven and eight figures. She has quickly become one of the most trusted and sought after E-commerce consultants in the world. In only three years, her agency, Love & Launch, has helped her clients achieve over one billion dollars in sales through Amazon, Ebay and other e-commerce platforms. Her entrepreneurial spirit and direct approach continues to help elevate not only her success, but the success of her clients which range from startups to fortune 500 companies.