Sabina embodies the true meaning of finding freedom through entrepreneurship and the embrace of change. She alongside her family are a digital nomad family in the true sense of the term. She is a self-taught entrepreneur who runs ecommerce businesses, Veppo Cigs and Taza Designs alongside her Co-founder husband.
I invited Sabina to the show to share her unique and memorable story about the need to embrace change in order to grow both your mindset and business. Change can be difficult, hard and lonely. Change can tear you apart but only for a brief period of time until experience, hindsight and resilience re-build you. So long as you always have the end goal in mind, you will see the benefits of change and embrace your true purpose.
Sabina had limited choices over the course of the 2008 financial crisis. Her business directly serviced the real estate market; which ultimately led to shutting it down. Although she was faced with losing her business, she kept her ears glued to the ground and learnt from a business mentor about the then up and coming technology of electronic cigarettes and its potentially disruptive impact on the tobacco industry.
She doubled down on it and moved her family to Costa Rica in order to significantly reduce their living expenses and work on building their business. She has since lived in Belize, Central America and then decided to settle in Bali for a few years. She is currently with her family in North America and visits her family’s Bali residence regularly.
This episode and interview is one of my all time favourites as it really got me thinking about change. I definitely recommend it.
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In 2008, Sabina was in the real estate business. During the global economic crisis, they lost everything they had. Her husband grew up in a family of smokers and she found that there was a need to find a way of helping people reduce the toxins they ingest through traditional cigarettes. That is where the idea of getting into the vaping industry originated from.
Since they had no capital, Sabina and her husband decided to start their vaping business by buying products from other companies and selling them on their website. They did not do this for long since there were quality issues that came up which motivated them to make their own brand hence the birth of Veppo. They started Veppo with the aim of producing quality vaping materials.
They started with an initial capital of about $5000 to $8000 to get the initial supply going. They initially worked with Volusion but had to switch to Big Commerce after a while since Volution did not have the marketing tools they needed to boost their brand. They contracted out their shipping and inventory but were still in charge of customer service.
One major challenge they had was their living expenses. While the couple was vacationing in Costa Rica, they decided that it would be great if they moved there. The business had not caught on yet and the cost of living in Costa Rica was low. They figured that they would live a comfortable life there without spending too much money. What was supposed to be a one-week vacation ended up being a one and a half year stay in Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica, their Veppo Cig business was at six figures.
After staying in Costa Rica for one and a half years, they decided to go back to the states for a visit and afterwards moved to Belize. They have also been to Bali, Central America, Asia among other places.
While at Belize, they found out that balancing business and family life was a challenging task and often found themselves unable to work. Eventually, they decided that they need to hire a team to take over customer service. They decided that it would be best to hire one of their customers since they already know about the brand and products they sell.
Sabina also hired a cook and nanny to help with the children which gave them more time to work on the business. Her husband took over handling the procedural things like accounting while Sabina was in charge of marketing, designs and other creative aspects of the business.
While in Bali is where they found the balance between family life and business life. She attended several conferences where she learned about how to do several things. Sabina says that even though you might find that you already know what is being talked about, the difference is whether you are implementing it in your business.
While in Ubud is where she decided to venture into e-commerce. Taza.co is a business where almost everything is run online. The business was started with an aim of being an Amazon –based business. Sabina gained a lot of knowledge about how to be a digital nomad. She says that at the time, the digital nomad community was just starting and there wasn’t a lot of information around.
When in Bali, the business grew from six figures to seven figures.
This is a product page on Veppocig.com.
If you head over to the Veppo Cig website, you will notice that it is highly visual. There are a lot of visual cues that make it easy for users to navigate around and ultimately convert. They maximize user experience (UX) and have very tabs that condense otherwise intimidatingly long information. Their product description page has a lot of product images with a lot of attention to detail.
One look at the website and you can tell that they spent a lot of time in the design and studying user behaviour. The website has a professional appearance and is user-friendly at the same time.
To continue developing and growing Veppo Cig. Also, Sabina has other business ideas she would like to try out.
Through engaging the potential employees in several tests that will display their commitment, skills and ability to follow instructions.
Asana, Gmail and Big Commerce
The recent move back to Big Commerce.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
08.21 The Birth of Veppo
16.43 How and why they moved to Costa Rica
20.58 Balancing Business and Family life
37.20 Life in Bali
47.00 The Veppo Cig Website
1.04.5 Lightning Round