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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Jodi Nash: South Australian Style Magazine

I recently did a Q&A with South Australian Style Magazine Editor; Jodi Nash, her story is one worth hearing and she is a testament to hard work equals success
 
What made you decide to start a magazine?
Coming from a freelance makeup, styling and photography background a opportunity came up to rebrand a magazine that I was freelancing for.I decided to give it a go and see what happened, it took off from there. There was also a huge gap in the market for a women’s publication in Adelaide. 
I was frustrated that I couldn’t visit the fashion stores that were promoted in the nationals so I made my own just for the local girls.
 
How did you get to where you are  now in your career? 
A lot of hard work starting with a great education. Working in Canada and America helped with experience on an international stage.
I studied visual art, photography, makeup and hair artistry straight from high school. I went to Uni during the day and did makeup classes at night. I worked for free for photographers for years assisting on set. I also taught modelling, catwalk and deportment. I got into fashion styling after Uni and coordinated and art directed a lot of catwalk shows over the years, even helping to launch the first Adelaide Fashion Festival in 2001.
I helped create a professional makeup school for budding makeup artists called Paint in 2004. 
I have always worked for myself as a freelancer or a consultant and found having a good skill set helped to gain lots of employment opportunities in all fashion fields.
 
What are the opportunities that have opened up for you as the editor of SA Style?
Meeting great people, working with celebrities and having fun putting fashion shoots together. 
 
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced within your career?
The publishing industry is full of deadlines and time constraints. I find that the hardest thing.
 
Any exciting plans ahead for you and/or SA Style?
It’s our 20th birthday next issue (December release) little did I know 5 years ago when I was planning the first issue on my kitchen table that we would be doing our 20th edition! 
 
What advice do you have or can you give to anyone wanting to get into a position similar to yours?
1) Up skill all the time and get jobs in the fashion industry wherever you can, even starting in a fashion retail store is great experience.
2) Build a solid skill set. The more strings to your bow the more employable you will be.
3) Work for people you are inspired by, and be loyal to those who gave you a start in the industry.
4) Professionalism, being polite and friendly, showing up, standing out from the crowd, dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s, will get you more places than an emailed resume ever will. 
5) The people you stomp on, on your way up will be the same people you meet on your way down, so don’t burn bridges.
6) Use your gut and do things you believe in. Be original and go your own way.
7) Success won’t happen overnight, but if you never take no for an answer, it will happen eventually. 
8) I have never given up an any project I started, see everything through to the end, it is an invaluable lesson.

Maree Stoubos: Girl About Town PR

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What made you decide that public relations (PR) was what you wanted to do as a career? 

I graduated from Uni SA with a degree in marketing, and as I was looking at employment opportunities in the communications field I was encouraged to undertake work experience and internships first. I wanted to stand out from the rest of the graduates so I thought, why not go to New York and do an internship there! I was lucky enough to know someone who knew someone who secured an interview for me with a high end fashion label – Brian Reyes – in the PR, sales and marketing department, and I was lucky enough to land the job. After spending three months in New York during New York Fashion Week doing the internship, I learnt the key principals of fashion PR, sales and marketing, and it was then that I knew I was destined for a career in PR.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

Career wise, I look up to people like Kelly Cutrone and Roxy Jacenko – both of whom went out on their own and started their own PR agencies. They are now known for being the most successful women in PR in America and Australia, and represent a number of amazing clients. They are the go to women for PR.

What has been the biggest opportunity that has come your way because of your work?

The fact that I get to work with a range of different clients from different industries allows me to develop my networks, skills, contacts, relationships and experience. I have been able to travel interstate as well as internationally because of the clients I represent and this has opened a number of doors for me. But the biggest opportunity is that after five years of working successfully in PR in Adelaide, I was able to go out on my own and launch Girl About Town.

Where do you (want to) see your career in 5 years?

I would love to see Girl About Town being the go to lifestyle PR Agency in Adelaide.