Standout Sri Lankans Q&A:

Lalitha Epaarachchi ~ Health & Fitness Coach and Youtuber

1. Tell us about yourself and your Business?

I’m a father, Health and Fitness Youtuber (Alpha lee fitness) & Online coach ( weight loss,  Muscle building and health & fitness lifestyle coaching)

Over the last 3 years I’ve built the largest online health and fitness community in Sri Lanka with 26,000 followers on instagram @lalitha_epaarachchi and 62,000 subscribers on Youtube, my Youtube channel alone has had over 3 million views in  just over an year. I’m proud to say that I have successfully hoisted myself to the top of the space with zero paper qualifications.

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The way my business works:

What I found out through the initial stages of my work was that there were plenty of influencers who are willing to share their lifestyle, expose their bodies, promote products without considering its impact and provide subjective information convincingly enough to make a sale or push a brand. This is a very lucrative method to earn on the short term but on the long term, in a space where you are dealing with people’s health and fitness it’s a naive, shortsighted method.

Based on this understanding, over time, I fine tuned my approach to:

  1. Delivering accurate information that has scientific evidence. I do this both in Sinhalese (youtube) and english (instagram)

  2. Promote a balanced lifestyle which the majority in Sri lankan’s can afford, emulate, still be healthy and fit and importantly keep building on.

  3. Work long term with brands. This is mainly because I noticed that most influencers worked with brands for a few weeks and moved onto another brand. Brand hoping is lucrative but damages your credibility as a product influencer which means in the longterm brands will not be paying you as much due to a lack of conversions. Engagement is meaningless without conversions – Your audience to Their customers. The 2 best examples from my brand portfolio are zimantra leisure center battaramulla and protein.lk. Both have become top brands in their space.

  4. Build my own paid service (online coaching). This is a service where I build training & nutrition plans for my clients. This was important because I wanted to make sure that brands could not pressure me into promoting anything I don’t like or agree with. If my income is covered through my own sweat equity, I would not have any reason whatsoever to con my audience by promoting products that i don’t believe in.

  1. Why did you decide to start your own business and What keeps you motivated.

I started making content on youtube and facebook while I was working as a software engineer. 3 weeks after I had my son I was very unfairly treated by my employer at that time. In brief, my employer accused me of not working well enough. That experience made me understand that as long as I work for someone else I will never truly be happy or appreciated regardless of how well I worked for them.

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I’m not a believer in motivation. If you need to be motivated to follow your passion i don’t think it is your passion to begin with.

  1. As a Sri Lankan influencer, how would you like to influence other Sri Lankan’s, as well as all others around the world?

I can’t fix the world with the work I’m doing but I firmly believe that I can change the health and fitness space for the better. With my work and approach to my work I hope I can influence more people to bring our space back out from vanity & drugs. In other words, I want to show people you can be honest, ordinary, average looking, earn and live a happy, peaceful life.

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VLOG: Adelaide Fashion Festival Events

Current ‘Miracle’ Products

For those of you who know me in real life or have been following my blog for a little while you will know about the joys of my skin and the ups and downs it goes through, I’m sure I’m not alone with this, we all have our struggles with skincare. Recently there have been a few products that have been my skins new best friends, so I really wanted to share them with you!

First up, we have good old tea tree oil, this one as shown below, is by Thursday Plantation and is readily available, I got mine from a local supermarket for under AU$10. I apply it to pimples both risen and under the skin and I’ve noticed over night results. I recently spent some spare time picking at my face (don’t judge…I thought there was something under there that needed to come out, but I was wrong) and I was left with a unpleasant open wound, I swear to myself everytime that I’m not going to pick at my face ever again but for some reason I haven’t been able to stick to this. Anyway, I applied a tiny bit of tea tree oil on it before going to bed and when I woke up it hadn’t taken away the wound completely but it definitely closed the wound a little, and made it less visible. Highly recommend keeping a bottle like this in the house at all times.

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Next up, we have this essence lotion by Clinique. I have a few different products on rotation that I put on my skin before bed, but I’ve noticed that when I use this one, I wake up with my skin feeling so smooth and it also helps those self inflicted open wounds I mentioned earlier. I purchased this particular one while on holiday in Singapore and I noticed that on the back it says that it’s formulated for Asian skin, so I’m interested to know how it works for those who don’t have Asian skin. Comment below if you’ve tried the non-Asian version!

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And last but not least we have; Scytera. So this product was actually sent to me to review, and when they contacted me they mentioned that they have a product for me to try that helps with the treatment of psoriasis, they didn’t know this but coincidentally enough I actually unfortunately do suffer from this condition on my scalp. So I jumped at the offer to try it, I’ve tried so many shampoos, oils etc and nothing has helped.

Firstly, I loved the message behind the product, on the information sheet, they mentioned the connection between such skin conditions and mental health issuse such as depression. Having psoriasis myself, I know the struggle, for me because it’s on my scalp I find that I can hide it by wearing my hair down. But for those people who have it on open areas, I can only imagine how frustrating and damaging it can be. So, Scytera consists of 2% coal tar which is known to be a dermatological treatment in small doses. The product is easy to use with its pump design and the foam that comes out is a pale yellow colour and really easy to apply. I spray a small amount onto my fingers and then massage it into my scalp, it has a slight medicinal scent but nothing major that I would be embarrassed to go out of the house. Just knowing how annoying it is to live with, it’s so nice to have a product that actually works! Thank you Scytera! For those of you interested in trying it out, it looks like it’s available at National Pharmacies.

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Thanks for reading, comment below with your current miracle products!

Throw That ‘Too Hard Basket’ Out and Start Achieving Your Goals

So that famous too hard basket, have you heard the saying? Well i reckon I hadn’t heard of it till I joined the workforce. And it’s made me think, why have we made it so easy to just throw something in the too hard basket, why should this be allowed, because really throwing something in the too hard basket actually means giving up or not doing something about something that needs doing.
I know for me I don’t really think about the too hard basket very often and I think there are 3 reasons for this:
1. I’m usually passionate about the things I think about doing so I’ll do whatever I can to not make it so hard to do.
2. I work on it slowly, do abit here and abit there so it doesn’t feel like I’m taking on a massive task all at once.
3. I don’t think of it as too hard. Our brains have so much power that the more we think something the more real it feels and the more we believe it.
So my lessons here are firstly if you really are passionate about doing something then take it on as a challenge, it’s not going to be easy but it doesn’t mean the idea needs to go in the too hard basket, it just needs a little TLC. Secondly, break your idea down into doable steps (Rome wasn’t built in a day..hey hey hey). And thirdly, I think this point is so important; don’t think of something as too hard, if you really want to do something, and it’s physically possible, then just put a little bit of time and work into it. Once you start working on it, it will become easier and easier!

Jewellery Launch: Of Dreamers and Dancers

Of Dreamers and Dancers is Adelaide’s newest luxury jewellery label and to celebrate the launch invited guests for treated to a preview of their first collection; Night Reign. Featuring both fine intricate and bold statement pieces, most have the option of gold, silver and rose gold, so there’s something to suit all jewellery lovers. Not only are the pieces beautiful but they are also of the very best quality,with some pieces dripping in Swarovski crystals.

 It’s so exciting that Of Dreamers and Dancers is Adelaide based, you may remember a recent Q&A I did with designer, Rebecca Minervini, she’s so lovely and it’s really cool to see local people doing great things…so inspiring!

Upon leaving the launch event we were gifted a candle, which was a beautiful collaboration piece between Of Dreamers and Dancers and Chloe Jane Candle Co. the scent of this candle is truly like no other, I highly recommend that you get your hands on one of these candles!

The ‘Night Reign’ collection is now online…happy shopping!

 Of Dreamers and Dancers

Lush Liquid Lipstick: Marsala

‘Marsala’ is the 2015 Pantone colour of the year.

This beautiful rich, wine colour with a purple tinge is the perfect colour in my opinion and Lush have made it even better by creating a marsala coloured liquid lipstick.

Lush sent me this little bottle of perfection to try out, as you will see below, it has a small applicator which allows you to fill in the lips without getting it all over the place. Also even though it is called a liquid lipstick, it’s not ‘annoyingly liquidy’ (my made up words!) so it doesn’t get everywhere. The texture feels really nice on the lips and it is so easy to apply. It is amazingly moisturising and I am not one to love the feeling of lipstick on my lips but I had no problem keeping this on my lips for quite a while. I found it long lasting, I think I had it on for about 6 hours and it would have lasted even longer but I had to take it off before having a shower. It also lasted through me eating waffles which really surprised me, no re-applying necessary!

As for the actual colour I can’t tell you how much I love it and trying this liquid lipstick from Lush has inspired me to try out some other colours in this range, let me know if you have tried any other colours, I would love to hear your opinions!

 

Shop : Lush

Adelaide Fashion Festival: Behind the Seams

 This year, as apart of the Adelaide Fashion Festival, I attended an event called Behind the Seams, which saw 8 industry professionals speak about their success in the fashion industry. I was so excited to attend this event, as it is something different compared to the many fashion shows that happen during the fashion festival. Not only is this kind of event inspiring and gets me motivated about starting something on my own, but it is also an amazing networking opportunity.

The speakers included Paul Vasileff (Paolo Sebastian Couture), Melanie Flintoft (Director, Australian Fashion Labels), Kelly Noble (Glam Digital Media Services), Anna Vlach (Fashion Editor, The Advertiser), Bec Cochrane (Media Makeup), Helen Jansson (Principal Lecturer, Tafe SA), Tania Debono (The Writing and The Cakeface) and Lacy Lasenzaniro (Belissimo Hair)

They were all so lovely and generous, sharing with us some of their tips to growing a business/brand. I noticed a few trends amongst the conversation, these included committing to social media and only posting images that fit with the image you want to create, engage with your followers, talk to people at events/meetings/on a plane as you never know who you’ll be speaking with, know whats happening in the world, watch the news, read the paper, and always try and turn negatives into positives.

 The speakers were asked questions about their beginnings in the fashion industry and starting businesses. The conversation seemed to center around the importance of social media and creating contacts. It was so interesting to hear about the humble beginnings of Australian Fashion Labels, it made me realise how a small idea can turn into something huge with the addition of hard work, commitment and passion.

I won’t go into detail about what was said by each speaker as I don’t think that would really help anyone, because we don’t want to go out an do exactly what someone else has done. But rather I would like to share my thoughts about how we can be inspired and get motivated by the world around us. What gets you excited? I get excited by hearing the success of others, and that just one simple idea can turn into a successful business, hence why I was so excited to attend this event. I also get excited by visually appealing things because they give me inspiration and surrounding myself with these things makes me want to create something….it’s interesting how different things inspire different people. Try and surround yourself with things that inspire you because if they are always around you’re bound to get motivated. I find scrolling down my instagram feed to be very inspiring as again, these are photos being taken by ‘normal’ people in their ‘normal’ environment, yet they look really cool. One of my guilty pleasures, but also another inspiring activity I like to do is watch reality tv shows, such as The Real Housewives, Keeping up with the Kardashians and Made in Chelsea. I don’t watch these shows only because of the drama but also because the women in these shows are usually successful entrepreneurs, who for the most part present themselves well, and work hard to create a successful brand. Yes they have the advantage of being on TV, but they still have to commit to creating an image for themselves, which is ultimately their business and source of income.

I hope my thoughts have gotten you thinking about getting inspired and motivated. Let me know what inspires you in your life??

Gracious Thoughts: Creating Your Reality

Creating your reality is all about living a life which is completely controlled by yourself, others (family/friends/acquaintances/colleagues) may be involved in this life, but the choices you make lead to positive outcomes for yourself. I want to share with you the story of how I have created my reality so far….

I am a thinker and a dreamer. I’m always thinking about the future and what I want to do with my life, the things/places I want to see, the people I want to meet, the person I want to become. I tend to ‘dream big’, not to sound cheesy, but I actually think about achieving great things in my life and I try to figure out ways of achieving these things. I also have a tendency to decide to do something (such as wanting to start a magazine), I get all excited and start telling my family and friends about the ideas I have, and then I don’t turn my words into actions or I do, but only go halfway. This is the disappointing moment for me, because I put so much thought into it, I come up with all these ideas and I’m so excited about seeing it come to life, and when it doesn’t happen I feel like what’s the point in doing all of these things and trying to make something of myself, I should just get a job and work for someone else. But being the stubborn dreamer that I am, I will never let myself believe that I will spend the rest of my life working for someone and not pursuing my dreams, and I keep thinking of new ideas of things I can do in my life.

 

During the latter years of high school I decided that I wanted to become a Psychologist. I wanted to be a Psychologist, because I would watch talk shows such as Oprah and The Tyra Show, and you know how they always tend to have a Psychologist in the audience who would share their ‘expert opinion’, well I wanted to be that person. So from then on I decided that I would go to Uni, study Psychology and become a Psychologist. While studying psychology at Uni, I realised that what I was learning was not what I was interested in and I really didn’t like it. Also to become a practicing Psychologist you have to complete the 3 year Bachelor degree, 1 year of Honours and a Master or Phd, this process put me off, because not only was it very competitive, I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it. So during my final year of the Bachelor Degree, I found out about another course being offered, which was a Masters degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy. After graduating from Psychology I ended up getting into this Masters degree, and was on my way to becoming a Counsellor and Psychotherapist. I really enjoyed this course because it was so much more practical and I felt like I could actually use what I was learning, in real life.

So while I was at Uni, I had an idea of starting a magazine. I researched it and I even went as far as to having a first issue put together by two graphic designer friends. But due to funding and timing issues I wasn’t able to get it printed. In the mean time a friend of mine said why not start it as a blog, gain an audience and then look into creating a print magazine. But I was stubborn and said no I don’t want it online, i want something in print. Since it wasn’t working out I gave in and started Gracious Magazine as an online blog.

After completing my Masters degree and running my blog, I realised that I can combine my interests and create a business which is based around Lifestyle consulting (helping people realise what they want to do with their lives) and Lifestyle coaching (helping people make positive changes in their lives). This is how The Gracious Life was born.

For me, I have found that even though I have all of these ideas it doesn’t mean I have to make them a reality, it just means I know I want to create something and coming up with ideas is just apart of that journey. As I go about creating my reality I stumble across many speed bumps, road-blocks, and dead ends. But it’s all about following the road and seeing where it leads, there’s not much point in stopping because that is when you know you have stopped dreaming and given up in creating your own reality. Remember that ‘creating’ is the key word, there’s no end to creating, set goals, and do whatever you need to do to create the life that you want to live.

 

Chloe Reschke-Maguire: The Lovely Yelp Lady

What is your current position/job description? 

Community Manager and Adelaide representative for  Yelp.com.au – I am also known as the “Yelp Lady”

How did you get to the position you are in now?

It really came down to Luck and chance! So the story goes; A friend of mine in Brisbane met the National rep for Yelp, she had asked my friend if she knew anyone in Adelaide that would be able to be the Adelaide rep, my friend told her to get in contact with me because “I know a lot of people”.

So she got in contact with me, we met, she asked me who I would suggest for the position, I mentioned a few names, but by the end of our conversation she said that I should apply, she sent me the job description, I applied and got the job!

What are the opportunities that have opened up for you within this position?

 Meeting amazing people – Adelaidians don’t talk themselves up, there are so many amzing people doing great things here and we should talk about it….through Yelp I get to do that! I get to connect with business owners, hear their inspirational stories and share them.

Networking – Because of my marketing background, I was going to lots of marketing networking events, but now through Yelp I have been able to mix with and get to know people from so many different industries

Where do you see yourself or what do you want to be doing in 5 years?

 I want to be telling peoples stories, connecting business owners with the community and connecting various industries…..so much greatness can happen when people come together!

I would also like to be doing a business which involves event management/marketing and working with small business.

Further down the track, I would like to work more around Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which involves connecting small businesses with the community and not for profit sector strategically.

What advice do you have or can you give to young people who want to get into a position similar to yours?

Networking, Getting Experience, Volunteering.

Say yes to any opportunity that presents itself even if its unpaid.

Work/volunteer during your time at uni…build your resume early!!!!

Get experience doing different things,  these days we need to be ‘slashies’ (having skills in various areas) it gives you a competitive edge when appoaching potential employers and/or adds to your skill set which will be beneficial for you in any venture.

Your best tip or trick to keep a job like yours?

Knowing people – building relationships, Your benefical to them and vice versa, Always remember you do business with people not with product!

Lizzie Liros: Celebrity Hair Stylist

Lizzie Liros, Multi-Award Winning Bridal Hairstylist and International Educator, lets us in on what a typical week in her super busy schedule looks like.

Saturday: 3am to 2pm

Saturday mornings are usually very early starts and this one is no exception, up at 3am to prepare for the first of three weddings for the day. My first stop for the day is a high-end wedding in ritzy Double Bay to prepare six bridesmaids and the bride for an early morning church ceremony. The style is highly polished and sophisticated which suites this group of women perfectly as the bride is an ex-mode, as are her four of her bridesmaids, a very glamorous and beautiful wedding.

Once my first wedding is complete, I race off to the other side of town for a smaller, more intimate vintage style wedding. This 1pm ceremony has three bridesmaids and the bride is a lot more relaxed with a garden setting. Nothing like finishing the day with a beach sunset and that is exactly where my next wedding takes me, up to the iconic Palm Beach for a gorgeous simple boho styled beach wedding with three bridesmaids, the bride and two darling flower girls. This relaxed barefoot bride wanted a sun kissed complexion and natural tussled curls so befitting for the surrounds.

Sunday: 4am

Today I am flying to Melbourne for one of my regular client’s very special days. A traditional Indian wedding is one of the most exciting occasions you could be involved with. I just adore the theatre and colour and tradition. Today I will stay with my bride all day and night as she changes between 2 different looks for the ceremony and reception.  Really fun day.

Monday: 6am

I high tail it back to Sydney for three days of education at my Sydney studio. Over three full days I will guide 30 hairdressers in varied levels of education; hairstyling basics on day one, a master class on day two and my favourite, vintage styles on day three.  I absolutely adore the change of pace my career affords me, education is my way of giving back and nurturing the next generation of stylists.

Tuesday: 6pm

After a full day of education I am helping my daughter with her study for HSC.  Is school getting harder or is it just me?

Wednesday: 6pm
Education is wrapped for the day and I squeeze in a quick meeting with my management team to discuss my upcoming USA tour. I’m beyond excited as this is my first educational tour to America and I can’t wait to meet all my students. The tour takes me to LA, Miami and NYC, oh and a little stopover in Vegas for some well-earned me time.

Thursday: 7am to 6pm

Today I am in my salon with back to back appointments, but today I am with a film crew who will be following my every move for a documentary on my career and life. I feel a bit like a reality star to be honest and wouldn’t mind some of that Kim Kardashian cashola or her shoe collection if it was on offer. Today is the last day of a seven week shoot, I will miss the crew when they go.


Work over for the day and it is off to soccer practice with my son.

Friday: 5am

Today I am shooting my new book and DVD, “Celebrity Hair by Lizzie Liros”. I absolutely love shoot days as we all have so much fun and it is such a creative energy that I need to thrive.

I am so fortunate to have surrounded myself with a brilliant team of models, photographers and makeup artists and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My sponsors also make my job so much easier as the professional hair styling product range I work with from Whitesands Australia makes styling hair an absolute breeze. Likewise I am blessed to be working with the most beautiful hair extensions from Amazing Hair Australia that allow me the opportunity to be really creative. They are all my support system in so many ways and I love them to bits.

Tomorrow is Saturday and I do it all again and wouldn’t change a thing. People often ask how I maintain such a busy schedule day in and day out, and I tell them if you love what you do then it isn’t work, it is a blessing.