founder of SASS Brands
Umama Kibria (@smallandstrong.fit) is a gym hopper, social media growth hacker, techie and community leader. She currently runs SASS Brands, a marketing agency for health and fitness brands.
We caught up with Umama to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey and how she’s changing what influencer marketing looks like.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
“So I definitely had the entrepreneurial spirit in me since I was in kindergarten. I’ve always kind of been like the Slumber Party queen. I started my own kind of snack business in elementary school but also kind of always served as an entertainment leader – I just wasn’t sure what my niche was going to be. It wasn’t until my life post-college when I finally connected the dots of understanding: I’m passionate about creating women on social media. Digital marketing of that marketing. And so I tied all these pieces together and decided that I’m going to launch my own digital marketing and experiential marketing agency for health and fitness brands. I launched this January 2017 and went full time with it. It’s been a really great experience and we’re continuing to grow and adding in technology is just another layer to everything that we’re doing.”
How did you get into the fitness industry?
“Wow. Post college. I kind of just got really bored. I’ve always been a very passionate leader. I was very involved in my sorority and the first time I got active was really playing intramural sports and then committing that passion to my sorority. So post college I kind of lost the sense of community and that sense of serving a purpose. So really I was just using fitness as a vehicle to help get discipline and structure back into my life. And this was what February 2015 when I got started with fitness and it simply just started as a tool for just helping me figure out my life and what it evolved into was something that completely transformed my mindset my body but really my life. I found my passion for community and being able to translate my background in marketing and advertising into space that I really knew I could help evolve. And so really the fitness industry is just one that I know that anyone can have fitness in their life they can do anything but it’s just about applying those principles of discipline and structure. And I’m just really grateful for that experience. My own journey and now I’m helping other brands be able to educate their products and services to other people to give them that same experience.”
What are you doing in the market that no one else is doing?
“I’m truly bringing a sense of community to it. But community with influencer marketing and experiential events.
So with fitness, right now it’s a pretty data system. You know there is some innovation and technology coming about but really about 10 percent of the market is only utilizing technology. And so my goal is to really bring these three components of digital marketing experience marketing and technology together to transform that fitness experience because I know if people had the right community and I create that for these brands then we can transform lives together and out with. When I was gym hopping across the US over three hundred ninety six gyms I realized it lacked this structure. And so now we’re helping these brands bring that to life.”
What’s important to you personally and for the company authenticity?
“Definitely one of the biggest drivers for my personal brand is being completely transparent. Opening and redefining what how social media works in general because it is becoming a saturated market. But I believe with the right level of influence with people that have positive impact. I think we could really transform not only fitness but every industry. And so we’re starting here with the fitness industry and then being able to kind of go into different verticals.”
So what do you hope for the future of your company?
“We’re gonna transform lives through fitness technology. I know if this message gets out to every person out there even if I just start out with every empowered women then I know that these women can go on and take big positions start new companies make global impact and all it starts with is just having that community sets. But I believe technology is going to be that shift in this industry that’s going to help connect people to the right resources and people.”
What are the biggest challenges in starting and growing your business?
“I think it comes with talent. Being able to grow as a team because. Being able to actually. Create systems and operations to be able to educate other people and hire that high level talent is what’s going to actually help us be able to reach the largest audience. And so right now it’s just a matter of five wading through all these different resources right now finding talent and being able to hire that train them and then implement the strategy so we can move fast and break things.”
What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs who want to do what you’re doing or just enter the startup space?
“Always be learning. That’s why belief fitness is what every single entrepreneur needs to have in their life. Because it is all about going back to our purpose and being selfish at first. Right. I think we need to be selfish every single day and never sacrificing that and our purpose and our why. So that’s why I believe it has been most important thing for every entrepreneur to have their schedules. Because that’s what empowers the vision and the why and knowing that the body that we’re fueling ourselves is what’s going to help deliver that message. So definitely that self care the self love and making sure we invest in that. But. As far as advice definitely taking those training principles of discipline and structure because when you train your body your mind and your soul that discipline translates over into our work ethic and then reminds us. OK. I feel today but tomorrow to get back up and do it again.”
So what’s next for you?
“I’m going to take over the world. What’s next is really just pushing through with this technology. We’ve been working on and releasing our MBP but really it’s just continuing to expand our community outside of that Atlanta and hiring really great talent and changing the face of what influencer marketing looks like. “
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